BY: Businessam Staff
REX ANUNOBI, Commissioner for Transport, Imo State, is not only a lawyer and a technocrat, but a grassroots politician. His Special Assistant Media & Special Projects, Ebere Uzoukwa, in this interview, shares with Business A.M.’s Dikachi Elemba, how his principal has keyed into the 3R mantra of Governor Hope Uzodinma to bring a revolution into the transport sector.
Could you share with us the specific things the commissioner for transport is doing or has done in this sector?
Let me first and foremost, say that his return and reappointment to the ministry is strategic. He is to continue with the reforms he has put in place under a framework of 21-point agenda, which include restoring total sanity and discipline in the transportation sector.
Of course, you may be aware that the government under Senator Hope Uzodinma has what is called Urban Renewal Programme (URP) of the government, which is aimed at bequeathing serenity and sanity in the Owerri capital city.
So, this will now lead to decongesting traffic; as well as ensure free flow of traffic in the capital city. It will now also lead to closing down of all illegal motor parks that are littered across Owerri capital city (OCC).
As we speak now the government through the commissioner for transport, which is Rex Anunobi, a lawyer and a chieftaincy title holder, has inaugurated the Ministry of Transport/ISTMA ( Imo State Transport Management Authority), the enforcement team that will be deployed to strategic roundabouts to ensure a safe compliance to traffic rules and regulations.
As I speak to you, they have been adequately trained by FRSC and other experts to bring them in tune with their responsibility for the effective management of traffic and control.
Now, what happened to the task forces that were created and are working?
To that effect the government, through the Ministry of Transport, has dissolved all other task forces which the Ministry of Transport is not aware of, probably set up by people who are non-state actors and the commissioner is so concerned that multiple task forces should not operate. So, this implementation of the transport enforcement team will be one central task force team that will enforce traffic compliance and drive the shutdown of illegal parks in Owerri Municipal Council and other towns in Imo State.
Is there any mechanism on ground to check and minimise theft, especially those who issue revenue tickets to commercial vehicle operators in the state?
It is also worthy to note that the Ministry of Transport is taking necessary steps to automate the Ministry of Transport daily ticket. That is to automate daily tickets for privately owned public vehicles, otherwise known as commercial vehicles; you know that they do pay daily tickets. So, because of the leakages witnessed and diversion of these funds, the ministry has taken a step forward, in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance and Imo Internal Revenue Service(IIRS), to ensure automation of the collection of these daily tickets.
There is also a subsisting order that banned movement of heavy duty vehicles from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. within and outside the city of Owerri capital. But what government, as a policy has done, domiciled in the Ministry of Transport, is to give a waiver to whoever that is on essential duty or those that are carrying perishable products, to apply for waiver and the ministry will cross check it, they will pay a certain revenue to the government, through the TSA.
How effective is this going to work?
Now, it depends on the business you are doing. If you have trucks that convey these goods, or you are on essential duty, or your trucks will always move to convey these perishable goods, what you will do is to apply and say please we have this proscription or regulation, please allow me to be moving anytime I want to move. Now it will attract a payment, and you will declare the number of trucks you have or the name of your company and then you pay to the government and the government will give you that waiver.
Can you confirm the information that the ministry is creating new bus stops and some intra/inter state buses may not be discharging passengers in the Municipal?
Now, there is what is going on now. The Ministry of Transport is putting 56 bus stops and posts. Those bus stops have been identified, the essence is to ensure that all these small buses, we call them ‘Busimo’, ‘Taximo’, do not park in some strategic roundabouts loading and constituting a nuisance. They are supposed to be moving, picking passengers and dropping at designated parks. As I speak with you now, the sample has been produced and 56 of them will be in designated places within the Owerri capital city.
To decongest the traffic within Owerri, there will be what the ministry has called ‘Intra/Exit Parks’.The essence of these parks is to create a terminal point for vehicles coming into Owerri. You don’t need to go into Owerri to discharge your passengers .
For instance if you are coming into Owerri from Okigwe, the park for you to discharge your passengers is somewhere around the flyover, then from Orlu it will be at Egbeada. If you are coming from Aba, that park will be at Naze; and if you are coming from Port Harcourt, that park should be at Hospital Junction, along Port Harcourt Road; and from Onitsha, somewhere at Arugo Park and from Mbaise, you will end up at Mbaise Park.
These are the parks, the essence is to make sure that these intra or inter city vehicles will not come to town, except those that are transiting, for example those from Abia State to Onitsha.
To show that the government is committed to achieving this programme, ITC Park is even relocating, moving from MCC Road to Onitsha Road.
The essence of all these things is to ensure efficient delivery of service and then revenue generation to the government. You serve the people, and at same time, you generate revenue to the government, and of course, you know that the Ministry of Transport is a revenue generating ministry to the government. These, among others, are what the commissioner is doing.