Is it really true that the palliative buses lunched publicly by the governor of Rivers State, Sim Fubara amidst fanfare, were actually procured by the former government of Rotimi Amaechi but abandoned to rot away, but hurriedly cleaned up by the government and pushed into the roads for free use by the people?
Is it also possible that the state government did not undertake a thorough work on the buses to ensure efficiency while on the roads? Less than two weeks after the flag-off of the free transport intervention scheme at the Rivers State Transport Company Complex in Port Harcourt, some of the buses are already developing faults.
A few days ago, one of the buses was seen parked along Lagos bus stop, in need of repair. Some residents have expressed concern over this development. Some alleged that the buses were the same vehicles used during the All-African Games during the Amaechi administration.
This is coming even as the Bayelsa State government is to inform the public about the modus operandi of the vehicles it launched for the purpose of alleviating the suffering of the masses as a result of the hike in fuel price.
Mr Daniel Alabrah, Chief Press Secretary to the governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri told TNN over the telephone that the state transport company will soon decide how the mass transit vehicles launched by the governor will run.
The situation in Rivers State is becoming a serious cause for concern. Residents believe it would have been avoided if the government had taken its time to access the true working condition of the buses and maintain them before rushing to put them on the road.
There are those who alleged that monies spent on what they described as ‘ridiculous commissioning’ should have been spent to service and repair the buses, insisting that they as they were not brand-new buses.
Some said the intention of the government was genuine, but hoped they were not in so much hurry to put it on the road.
In a release made available to TNN, the Erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze insisted that Amaechi bought the buses in 2011.
Eze said: “The flag-off which was held last Tuesday at the premises of the defunct Rivers Transport Company (RTC), a public investment which continued to boom until around 2017 when it was frustrated out of business by the immediate past administration of Nyesom Wike which ran the state without any clear-cut policy framework and economic blueprint, saw Prof. Ngozi Ordu, the Deputy Governor cut the ribbon on behalf of the placeholder of the office of Governor of Rivers State, Sim Fubara, who prefer not to be dragged over the cosmetic scheme.
“The coaster buses displayed during the flag-off and which are now deployed for the scheme were purchased by former Gov. Chibuike Amaechi around 2011 when the state hosted the National Sports Festival of that year and were thereafter used to transport civil servants from their homes to the state secretariat and back to their bases at the close of work on daily basis.
“The buses however laid idle all through the administration of Nyesom Wike who only revived them in 2022 to further his selfish presidential interest which was aborted prematurely.
“The fanfare and flag-off were unnecessary given that since the fuel subsidy removal, other states where government are conscious of their obligation to citizens have been rolling out better palliative schemes such as cutting work days, increasing monthly salary, establishing food banks and reducing school fees in public institutions to help students from less privileged homes remain in school.
“In less than 24 hours after the lunch of the buses, some of them broke down on the road due to mechanical fault, signalling that no proper servicing was carried out on the old buses before they were deployed on the roads whereas millions have been swindled from the state coffers for same purpose.”
The APC chieftain added that “the state may be at the brink of economic collapse given the level of looting spree that has been planned against public treasury chief among which is the N200 billion Port Harcourt Ring Road Project which was hurriedly thought-out to siphon funds and transform private pockets while the majority continue to wallow in abject poverty and want.
“What the state needs at the moment is to prioritize investment; attract local and foreign investors to leverage the market and expand job openings for the people; this will provide food for families and grow the economy. And one sure way to achieve this is to market the Greater Port Harcourt City, a mega project with economic potentials ready to be harnessed.
“It is shameful that Rivers State, the ‘treasure base of the nation’ could not attract any foreign inflow all through the administration of Nyesom Wike. Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Oyo etc have all overtaken the state, whereas Lagos and Abuja have maintained their firm grips in the index.”
Eze commended Amaechi for supposedly building strong legacies he said has continued to resonate and provide platforms for exemplary leadership despite leaving office some nine years ago.
He cautioned that, “the Rivers State Government not to hide under the sterling performance of Amaechi to loot the treasury, adding that Rivers people are very much aware that no dime was spent on the so-called palliative transport scheme.
“Fubara, Rivers State temporary governor wants to improve in the arts of mis-governance in Rivers State from where Wike his master stopped”
Recently, the governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri unveiled a new transport scheme in a bid to alleviate the suffering of commuters in the state occasioned by the federal government’s removal of fuel subsidy.
While TNN has learnt that the vehicles will not be conveying people for free, it was also learnt that fares will be lower than that of private commercial vehicles but won’t be fixed by government. The state transport company will handle that.
Diri who inaugurated 100 cabs and six luxury buses at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall premises on Wednesday, said the initiative was his administration’s palliative to boost the transportation sector.
He also reaffirmed that the restriction on commercial tricycles at night was still in force and that the taxis and buses were an effective replacement.
His words: “This is another historic day as we launch this fleet of transport vehicles to alleviate the suffering of our people.
“For those who have been crying over the ban on commercial tricycles at night, this is an effective replacement. The ban is however still in force.
“Now, we have taxis that will run within the city of Yenagoa and environs to the Niger Delta University at Amassoma, to the airport and the Federal University, Otuoke and other towns.
While handing over the keys of the vehicles to General Manager of the Bayelsa State Transport Company, (BSTC) Chief Timi Fanama, the governor stressed that the new arrangement will be different from previous government’s transport initiatives in the state and urged the management to make good use of the vehicles to enhance the transport system.