The seriousness of correct statistics, data or databank in development activities, appraisals and projections has remained a strong point the world over. It is a matter that is totally beyond compromise in every part of the globe, where men and women of integrity and transparent purpose in leadership positions have vowed to move their people forward. The truth is that there is really nothing a government that truly means well for its people could do in the area of democratic planning and development, without the availability of accurate records and data on the different economic activities of its people. For a government to realise any worthwhile revenue in taxation, the importance of correct census figures of its men, women and children as well as private and corporate business operators and activities must be given the attention it deserves. This is applicable to election matters, and the number of primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions to be built in different parts of a state. These issues cannot be dealt with in the absence of development statistics. The same scenario also applies to the unemployment status of a state or nation vis – a – vis available employment opportunities and the usually critical need to create more job chances.
Indeed, a situation where those in positions of authority work without any form of statistics or data on the development needs of their people in the areas of election, taxation and general infrastructural development is a fundamental explanation why development efforts have remained in a state of total disarray, over the years in parts of Nigeria and indeed the underdeveloped world. Hence, correct data provision and its uncompromised application to development policies and programmes of government is as critical as it is indispensable, if Nigerians must not continue to live in conditions of underdevelopment. The Rivers State Ministry of Transport (MOT) Commercial Vehicle Enumeration or Registration exercise is one of the development-prone efforts of the present administration expected to achieve a correct data of all categories of commercial vehicles in the state. The importance of such data cannot be over-emphasised in transport related-development initiatives of government. The pressure of vehicles on available infrastructure such as roads and parks in the state even makes the exercise more imperative. It would also assist government in embarking on appropriate expansion of transport infrastructures in the states for the good of the people.
At the end of the day, the data so collected from the exercise could be used to know how many vehicles operate in different parts of Port Harcourt and the entire state as well as the true identity of their owners and operators up to where they live as well as their villages, communities and states. Such data would definitely make it difficult for criminals to take to commercial vehicle business in Rivers State.
It would also enhance transport related tax computations and reduce the problems of tax evation because transportation is one single business activity that appears to have the largest operators, who for many years have remained elusive when the state is in need of their correct statistics for development plans and projections. Moreover, such data could also enable govermnent to eventually make touting become extinct in the state. This is because, if the state has correct data on transport operators in the different zones of the state capital and other parts of the state, there would be no need for any agency of government to employ the task force element in its tax activities in the sector. In an overall sense, the data collection process would make every other dealings with transporters in the state a lot easier in the years to come. Transport operators should therefore be strongly reminded that the era of task- forcing and touting is gradually being phased out in Rivers State, because the task -force system in our tax programmes has done more harm than good to the image of state governments across the country.
And it should be pointed out that when the idea of Commercial Vehicle Enumeration was mooted by the state Transport Ministry, no time was wasted in taking into cognizance the fact that stakeholders such as the National Union of Road Transport Workers must key into the advantages of the exercise for the right impact to be made. With time, the stakeholders talks with the Ministry on the enumeration programme also positively progressed to the need of installing world class taxi roof lights on all taxis, not only in Port Harcourt but the entire state. Beyond the obvious improvement of the aesthetics of the state capital arising from the presence of many taxis with bright roof lights, particularly at night, it would also enable commuters to easily identify a taxi from a distance to flag it down if they need to board one. In the spirit of participatory democracy, the issue of pricing for the registration exercise and the taxi roof light was also openly and actively debated with the unions taking the usual firm stand in the interest of their members”. At the end of the talkshop, an amicable agreement was reached on when both programmes of the state Transport Ministry in conjunction with the National Union of Road Transport Workers and other stakeholders should commence, as well as what should reasonably be paid by each category of commercial vehicle operators for the registration and taxi roof light.
Additionally, the stakeholders at the instance of the ministry also further agreed that all payments be paid into a government designated bank account, contrary to any form of raw cash transactions, which it was noted breeds corruption. Drawing from this people-oriented scenario of public policy implementation as being canvassed. by the present administration, there is no reason whatsoever why any responsible commercial transport operator in Port Harcourt, and indeed the entire state, should not willingly key into the programme of repositioning the fortunes of the transport industry in the state. The state Transport Ministry as the regulator of the industry in the state has also begun.” an intensive media campaign to further enlighten commercial vehicle operators in the state on the importance of the MOT Vehicle Enumeration Exercise and Taxi Roof Light initiative. Coming from such atmosphere of mutual understanding, oneness and trust between the Ministry of Transport and the unions, among other stakeholders, on how to achieve for the state one of the best transport situations in the country, the onus is now squarely on the operators not to drag the state behind and become a cog in the wheel of progress in the transport sector.
It is also well deserving, that the leadership of the National Union of Road Workers and other stakeholders in the industry particularly in Rivers State be commended for their total support and commitment to the laudable efforts of the present administration to provide an efficient, effective and affordable as well as beautiful transport reform programmes for the state. We commend all commercial vehicle operators who have willingly gone to the state Ministry of Transport Office, at Moscow Road, to pay for the registration and the taxi roof light as law abiding citizens, while those who are yet to comply should follow their good example. So far, the ministry, in alliance with the National Union of Road Transport Workers, has established a total of ten commercial vehicle registration centres in Port Harcourt and its environs to make the process easy for commercial vehicle operators in the state. The appeal, therefore, is that they should do well to live up to their promise of sustaining the tempo of co-operation with the state Ministry of Transport to move the transport industry in Rivers State to the next level, for the good of the operators and best corporate image for the government and people of the state.
Onyije is Press Secretary to Rivers State Commissioner for Transport
More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining
As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth.
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.
Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project -Akawor
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them.
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.
PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations
Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations.
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.
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