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Transportation Ministry And Need To Sanitise Commercial Buses

Hon. Rex Anunobi- Imo Transport Commissioner.
Hon. Rex Anunobi- Imo Transport Commissioner.

November 21, (THEWILL) – Among the Southeastern states of Nigeria, Owerri, the commercial capital of Imo State, is developing rapidly in all ramifications.

Infrastructures, in education, Agriculture, human capacity development, population, housing – the numbers are rising. Kudos to the present administration for recording this considerable feat!

Businesses thrive in the state including the transportation sector. About 30 percent of Owerri residents are making their living from the operation of commercial buses. They are excelling in that system because of the decent income they make on daily basis through the activities.

In 2019, during the administration of former Governor, Rochas Okorocha, the number of commercial buses operating within Owerri were more than ten thousand (10,000). That revelation was made by Hon. Lasbrey Okoafor-anyanyu, who was heading the Transportation Ministry. Although, Okoafor-anyanyu had challenges the period he held sway, but transformed the sector to the admiration of Owerri residents.

Commercial bus operation can be said to have been completely bastardised in the state; and it appears the two-time Transportation Commissioner, Barr. Rex Anunobi, has not taken the bull by the horn, towards addressing the rascality being exhibited by the operators of these buses.

There are indications that commercial mini-buses operating in Aba, Umuahia, Ihiala, Elele, Ebonyi, Onitsha, and other neighbouring states, had clandestinely emigrated to Owerri, to carryout their businesses. Sadly, these alien drivers have been successfully manoeuvring even when their cabs are neither registered nor painted with the colour (White and sky blue) officially approved by the Ministry of Transportation.

Before I go ahead, let me ask these pertinent questions — Does the Ministry of Transport monitor the disturbing activities of these drivers? When last did the Ministry organise a training or workshop for the Operators? Is the Ministry aware of the rising incidents of atrocious operations, being perpetrated with the mini buses? Anyways, this, will make the Commissioner for transportation, Honourable Barrister Rex Anunobi, call them to order.

Sen. Hope Uzodimma has continued to be a friendly leader to all and sundry in the state. This humane disposition should not be taken for granted. It is on record that the Imo Governor has made outstanding impacts in the sector.

The coasters he provided for the conveyance of Imo workers attached to Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals, is a show of love. This means he is a Transportation-friendly leader! The roads constructed by his administration and installation of traffic lights in the major areas of the metropolis, all indicate his love for the sector, which is a catalyst for socio-economic development of the state.

The heights of nuisance being constituted by these drivers is really portraying the city in a bad light. The level of misbehaviour on the road is no longer bearable that if nothing is done, in no distant time, It could be hard to curb.

Some of them have been boldly taking the laws into their own hands on a supposed grounds that “nothing is happening”, “government does not care”, “Imo State na our own”, as well as other unwarranted boastful comments that could throw anyone into wondering what could be giving them the moral justification to behave in such manner.

Transportation system in Owerri is now nothing to write home about because the bus-Imo operators violate traffic laws at ease. The worst part of it is that when other motorists reprimand them for parking wrongly, fireworks ensue, which sometimes snowballs into physical fights.

Illegal picking and dropping of passengers at strategic areas that are not approved by the government, is alarming. These drivers abuse traffic wardens and other road users including pedestrians. They descend on other motorists even when they are glaringly at fault.

One of the causes of these problems is lack of motor-parks in Owerri. The Arugo park located along Onitsha Road, is the only functioning park in Owerri. There is need to sanitise the system by building more loading bays at the Wetheral junction (perhaps, the Ogbo-osisi area could be expanded, in order to accommodate the wood sellers and commercial buses that ply within and outside Owerri.

The Okigwe motor park situated closer to Ama-JK, should be expanded, so as to encompass those buses that cluster within Douglas- Ama- Jk axis. The Road workers union and other related associations should not leave everything in the hands of the government. The re-organisation of the system is a collective responsibility. They should call themselves to order; and start obeying traffic rules in order to eschew being descended upon by security Agencies.

Now the Yuletide season is fast approaching, the general public should be careful when boarding buses, so not to fall prey to these hoodlums. It is unfortunate that the commercial bus service in Owerri has been hacked by criminals, who hide under the guise of being “bus-Imo operators”, while dispossessing unsuspecting passengers and pedestrians of their hard-earned money this time people are finding it difficult to eke a living.

I must use this medium to doff my cap to the security agencies in the state for their show of resilience even in the face of the myriads of challenges bedevilling Imo. But lo and behold, more effort is needed in the area of crime fighting. If possible, let insecurity be completely nosedived in the state. (Although, I learnt that it is impossible to outrightly steer clear of security challenges).

The security men that conduct stop-and-search operations along Akwakuma-Nworieubi, Port-harcourt-Obinze, Orji-Okigwe and Aba roads should be thorough enough in their duty for the purpose of fishing out the evil men among the law-abiding ones.