As part of plans to ease the sundry effects of the recent fuel subsidy removal by the federal government and subsequent hike in petrol pump price, Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has officially commissioned and released 100 18-seater Toyota Hiace commuter buses to boost transportation in the state.
It has however been revealed that the state transport out, Delta Transport Service (Delta Line), will be shut out of the post subsidy bargain.
Governor Uduaghan stated that his administration would soon take another delivery of 50-seater Marco polo buses and 130 boats for the riverine communities.
The commissioning which took place in Asaba, the state capital while the national strike called by the NLC and TUC is still on-going, drew the attention of many Deltans who came to witness the event, despite claims that the crowd was allegedly hired from nearby towns by officials of the state government.
The governor had also set up a three man palliatives committee on the removal of fuel subsidy with Mr Gamaliel Onosode as chairman, with Chief Philip Asiodu and Mrs. Elizabeth Adegite as members with the mandate to monitor the implementation of the proceeds from subsidy removal in the state.
Uduaghan, while enjoining transporters to revert to the old fares as the state government would be responsible for the difference in the transport fares before and after the subsidy removal, explained that the state government would take care of the increase that has occurred after the removal of fuel subsidy for the benefit of Deltans.
His words “l appeal to transport operators in the state mass transit scheme to revert back to the old fares charged before the removal of fuel subsidy as my administration will subsidies the fares for the next six months.”
“In support of the operations of these vehicles and to further reduce the pressure of the recent transport fare adjustment on commuters. The state government has decided to subsidize passengers fares on the vehicles”.
“So far we have a total of 100 salon cars for taxis and over 500 buses in the scheme deployed to various areas of the state to improve on the transport sector and reduce the stress associated with daily movement of Deltans.”
Governor Uduaghan who urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to take advantage of the current dialogue and call off the strike action as it was causing damage to the national economy, observed that the subsidy removal would secure the future for the youths.
The setting up of a three-member committee, according to the governor, was to monitor the implementation of the projects to be funded with the proceeds from oil subsidy removal as earnings from the subsidy removal would be utilized on critical infrastructures such as education, power, agriculture, transport and health.
Governor Uduaghan further highlighted the sectors that will benefit from the proceeds of the fuel subsidy, as he announced the mandate of Onosode palliatives committee adding: “With the withdrawal of subsidy, resources can now be deployed to address critical areas of our economy. In Delta, we will utilise our earnings to address such critical infrastructure as:
i. education; by renovating, building and equipping most public schools;
iv. Transport; by constructing durable roads, mass transit vehicles and boats.
v. Health; by providing mobile Clinic vehicles and Boats.
Asserting that he was aware of the serious impact of the subsidy removal on the transport sector, Dr. Uduaghan said he would utilize Delta Transport Service, Agofure Motors, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Nigeria Labour Congress and Student Union bodies in the management of the buses to ensure efficient service delivery and moderate fares.
While promising to continue to provide people oriented services to Deltans the governor appealed to benefiting operators of the buses to use them properly.
Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of the keys to the buses to Delta Transport Service, Agofure Motors, NURTW, the NLC and the student union body.
Government, according to insider sources will engage the services of proven consultants in the management of the vehicles to achieve optimal result.
However, management of the state owned transport outfit, Delta Transport Service (Delta Line), may have lost out in the post subsidy bargain by the state government, as Blank NEWS Online findings reveal that the state governor is angered by the management style of the company, even as their operations have remained independent of government.
A stakeholder had queried, “The fact is that their operation is not impressive. They wholly lack maintenance ability. How is government sure that they will not thwart the plan of government as a result of subsidy removal? They could not manage the buses earlier handed to them and that was why government gave them to a private transporter, Agofure.”
General Manager of Delta Line, Mr. Isaiah Eyione, is said to have been engaged in intensive lobby to reverse the thinking of government.