BY KENNETH JUDE-
Miffed by his meddlesomeness, stakeholders in the transport sector have called for the sack of Commissioner for Transport and Petroleum Resources, Mr. Orman Esin, over what they described as his incompetence to run the ministry. They made their position known to newsmen in Uyo at the weekend.
The stakeholders decried the fact that Orman Esin has sidelined them in the affairs of the ministry of transportation in the state especially as regards the management of motor parks.
They faulted the recent news making the rounds to the effect that a new tax regime will be in place beginning Monday, 29th January. According to them, they argued that in as much as they agreed to some changes to be effected in the tariff rate, they never consented to whatever the Commissioner published in the media.
Reeling out the figures, the stakeholders said that for the purposes of registration, they agreed that the sum of N24, 000 should be paid by commercial bus owners, N17, 000 for taxi operators and N3,500 for tricyclists (keke operators). They noted that there was no provision for renewal in the agreement hence condemned in its entirety, the recent publications in the media credited to the Commissioner.
They described the publication as a misrepresentation and distortion of facts that contradicts the agreement reached between the Ministry of Transport and Stakeholders in the transport sector.
On the way forward, the stakeholders agreed unanimously that the tariff for registration of buses be reduced to N5000, 000, N3, 000 for taxis and N1000 for tricycle (keke) respectively. They stressed that at no time did they agree to any renewal, noting that there’s no provision for such policy. “Any attempt to enforce the tariff for renewal shall be resisted by the stakeholders in the transport sector. Which subhead are those money paid under in the state budget?”
On the issue of managing the parks, the stakeholders explained that the state government had entered an agreement with private park owners, including long distance parks, to the effect that they should all move to the government established regional parks, located at Ikot Akpe, Nung Oku, Itam and Mbiaobong to do their business. “It was agreed that stakeholders in the transportation industry of Akwa Ibom State manage the affairs of the Unified Motor Park Workers’ Association in each of the parks.”
Continuing, they said: “The Government (through the Technical Committee on the Relocation of Parks in Uyo) agreed to supply buses for use in the parks for the stakeholders, but failed to do so, even up till now.
For that reason, the government encouraged the stakeholders to form a cooperative society named ‘Akwa Ibom Transport Stakeholders Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Limited’, which was launched and commissioned by the out gone commissioner for Transport, Prince Godwin Ntukudeh at an event chaired by Hon. Idongesit Ituen, Chairman House Committee on Works and Transport, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. But following the delay by government to provide the vehicles, the stakeholders provided the vehicles themselves to show sincerity and solidarity with the State Government in the relocation project of government.”
The stakeholders said they were shocked that the Commissioner confronted them at the long distance section of the park recently, and told them that some people will take over the management of the park from them. “Surprisingly to the stakeholders, on the 22nd January, 2018, Mr. Orman Esin, the Honourable Commissioner for Transport, confronted the stakeholders at the long distance section of the park and threatened/directed that his “Boys” shall be working at the park from Monday 29th January, 2018 and shall collect from every motorist the sum of N1,000.00 per passenger at the gate before the vehicle is allowed to leave the park for its destination, without telling the stakeholders the law which provides for the collection of such money from motorists.”
Speaking further, they accused Orman Esin of personalising the ministry and turning it into his private business. “Also, the Revenue hitherto generated from the motor park were usually shared amongst the unions/Associations, (Stakeholders), Local Government (Uyo, Ibesikpo Asutan, Itu, Uruan and Ibiono Ibom under the Uyo Capital City Development Authority) and Akwa Ibom State Government. From 2007, the revenue was paid till when Mr. Orman Esin became the Commissioner for Transport and stopped all such disbursements as the government earlier agreed with the stakeholders.”
They said the Commissioner has employed his brothers and kinsmen who have taken over the collection of the monies, adding that the monies are gathered and taken to the Commissioner in his house.
The stakeholders pledged their unalloyed support for the re-election of Governor Udom Emmanuel while calling for the outright sack of Orman Esin for “peace to reign in the transport sector.”
Stakeholders present at the meeting include: Sir Godwin E. Ukwak, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW); Hon. Godwin Otu Angwanga, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN); Usen James Usanga, Drivers Welfare and Development Association (DWDA); Obong Emem Austine Edet, Long Distance Commercial Transport Association; Amanisong Ernest, Food Stuff Dealers and Transporters Association; Ita Asuquo Offiong, Earthmoving Equipment, Double Axle, Truck Owners/Operators Association and Deacon Benjamin Ekpo, Akwa Ibom Commercial Transport Stakeholders Association (AKICTSA).
Efforts to reach Orman Esin on phone for his reaction proved abortive as his known phone number was not connecting as at press time.