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Dawn Of Competitive Transport In Rivers

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A new era of what could be described as “Competitive Transport System” has unfolded in the history of transport operation in Rivers State, and in Port Harcourt environs in particular. This is the desire of average commuter in the state.

In the past, the transport system in the state could be said to be very undeveloped, having the features of hooliganism, gangstarism with the “winner takes all” syndrome in the system.

It was a period of near monopoly due largely to the operational style of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), where no other group outside the NURTW could survive in the system, and if they must survive, it must be by violence, clash and flex of muscles physically among themselves and with the law enforcement agents.

Transport fare was relatively unstable especially within the town service operation ( intra-city bus service)  Mini buses dominated the entire transport and every attempt to checkmate obnoxious increase in fare was met with stiff opposition by members of the transport union.

It is not surprising that any attempt made by any group to appear as an independent group will face serious attacks from the transport cabals that held the system to ransom.

The scenario then gave birth to other emerging groups who had links with either the government (the federal or state) or the Labour Organisation to make their existence strong in order to enable them withstand the threat of transport mafias in the state.

The coming on board of the Labour Mass Transit (LMT), the Rivers Mass Transit Scheme, and the Port Harcourt City Transport Scheme were fallouts of the efforts to launch themselves into the mainstream transport scheme in Rivers State.

Other transport bodies that followed suit were the Rivers Transport and Investment Cooperative Union Limited (RTICUL) and the Nigerain Legion Mass Transit Scheme. Their coming on board brought hope to the general commuter public and other self commissioned drivers who were seeking for other alternative organisation in the transport system to guarantee freedom from the near-monopoly known in the system.

The new entrants into the transport system operated as franchise schemes, with lots of promises and hope of freedom for its members, where a lot of self-commissioned drivers were registered for protection, as it were.

Hopes were dashed, when these operators could not accomplish promises made to members, as the system turned out to be a source of environment for the operators.

This scenario nevertheless plugged back the system into confusion again, as any emerging group could be taken very serious because of the antecedents.

But since the inception of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi government in Rivers brought, hope and relevance have been rekindled in the transport system, as real investment for the development of the transport system evolved in the state.

Governor Amaechi on January 29, 2008 organised a transport summit where egg heads in the transport sector both within and outside Rivers State gathered to brainstorm on the way forward and for the development of the transport system in the state.

At the summit, transport and related issues were discussed, and resolutions reached, which informed the basis for government transport policy in the state with the Skye Bank playing active role at the summit.

Decisions reached at the summit began to pay-off when the Skye Bank as a private financial institution in partnership with the state government rolled out the Port Harcourt City Bus Service Scheme (PHCBS); a scheme where multiple luxurious buses were used to service the Port Harcourt metropolis and its environs transport wise.

This effort of The Skye Bank’ efforts in partnership with the state government impacted positively on the system, particularly in the area of control  of transport fare along the Aba Road axis which was its first point of call in operations.

This also gave rise to relatively organised transport system in the state as tickets were issued and the same fare charged both at the peak and off-peak in commuters rush hours.

At least there was no reported case of cut in distance of operations, and the most impressive aspect is that large number of commuters and passengers were moved from one point to another and buses were readily available, with designated bus stops remarkably built.

Another remarkable appearance was that of the Monier Haulage, that partnered with the Skye Bank to provide readily available and affordable transportation.

With the appearance of the Monier Haualge, PHCBS launched its operations within the Mile III- Rumuokoro and Choba axis, with multiple luxurious buses in its fleet.

Before the advents of the transport firm operators along UNIPORT-Rumuokoro axis, as well as that of Mile III, the fare charged by other private transporters were out rageous. But competition set in when Monier haulage started charging moderate fare against what others in Union have garged up to charge.

A fare charge of N100 from Choba to Rumoukoro has now been forced down to N50 by private mini buses drivers, while PHCBS takes only N40 both do Mile III and Choba.

Ideally, the major transport corridors in Port Harcourt metropolis are the Aba Road, and the Ikwerre Road axis, and this is where much passenger traffic is experienced. Next is the Rumuokoro-Choba and the Igwuruta axis, and on record, the PHCBS has taken over operations along the routes giving rise to competitive transportation.

Already, many commuters that ply the routes have made the PHCBS as their number one choice because their operations are well organised, easily available, no report of hike in fare at any time of the day, and of course with low transport fare.

This scenario has forced other mini bus operators to compete for passengers with lower fare charged in most cases.

Interestingly, many drivers no longer position their vehicles for loading at the park but are always seen outside the motor park to compete with the PHCBS operators at a reduced fare.

The reason is that the number of passengers that enter the motor park has drastically been reduced, since PHCBS positioned themselves outside the park to scout for passengers. This has affected the revenue base of most transport operators.

The Secretary of NURTW, Rumuokoro branch, Mr. Ikechukwu Orlu, agreed that the operations of PHCBS has brought competition to the system, and that the daily revenue to the union has reduced drastically. This prompted the reason for members to load outside according to him.

It is clear that this competitive scenario has reduced the burden  on commuters on the road, and this of course will chart the course of advancement of transport system in the state, and the credit will be given to the initiators of the present administration.

 

Corlins Walter

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Customs Intercepts N6, 974m Worth PMS

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Barely two weeks after seizing a tank-full equivalent of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), known locally as petrol, the  Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted 1005 jerry cans of the same product.
The product, amounting to 3000 litres, is with Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth  of N6,974,750.00.
A statement signed by the Command’s Spokesman, DSC Hussaini Abdullahi, and made available to our correspondent in Lagos at the weekend, said the seizure was made during a routine check of the adjoining creeks, beaches, and flash points.
The statement quoted the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Bello Mohammed Jibo, as saying that “as long as unrepentant and undesirable elements engage in acts of economic sabotage and smuggling, so shall officers and men remain a step ahead to counter their illicit trades”.
The statement further reads: “In continuation of our efforts to suppress smuggling of petroleum products within the nooks and crannies of the command, officers and men of the Seme Area Command on a routine patrol along the creeks within Seme and Badagry intercepted another large quantity of petroleum products in sacks.
“After successful evacuation of the said item to the command’s premises where examination was conducted, one thousand and five (1005)x 30 litres of jerry cans of petroleum products each, equivalent to thirty thousand, one hundred and fifty (30,150) litres  were discovered. The Duty Paid Value (DPV) is Six million, nine hundred and seventy four thousand, seven hundred and fifty naira (N6,974,750.00), only”.
While showcasing the seized products, Jibo commended the doggedness, patriotism, dedication and high level of professionalism exhibited by his men, noting that the new Land Cruiser patrol vehicles (Buffalo) recently donated to commands by the Management of the NCS has aided the operation of the command, as the vehicles enhance access to a wider circle.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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NASS, MDAs’ Non-Remittance Of Taxes Cost FIRS N5.8bn …NCAA Tops Defaulters With N2,984bn

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Non-remittance of tax deductions by the National Assembly, comprising the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies has resulted in a loss of tax revenue amounting to N5.8 billion by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in 2019.
Disclosing this in its 2019 Annual Report on non-compliance, internal control, and weakness issues in MDAs of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation said it is for the year ended December 31, 2019.
The MDAs, according to the Report, are the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology, New Bussa; Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria; Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited; Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Jigawa State; Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, Nasarawa State; Department of Petroleum Resources; National Assembly Service Commission; and Nigerian Correctional Services.
It stated that between 2018 and 2019, the MDAs failed to either remit one per cent stamp duty, value added tax, withholding tax or Pay As You Earn tax deducted from awarded contracts, thereby contravening sections of the Financial Regulations and Treasury Circular issued on December 29, 2015.
The Report further stated that Paragraph 234(I) of the Financial Regulations states that “it is mandatory for accounting officers to ensure full compliance with the dual roles of making provision for the Value Added Tax and withholding tax due on supply and services contract and actual remittance of same”.
Specifically, it quoted Paragraph 235, saying, “Deduction of VAT, WHT, and PAYE shall be remitted to Federal Inland Revenue Service at the same time the payee who is the subject of deduction is paid”.
It continued that the Treasury circular Ref No. TRY/A12&B12/2015 and OAGF/CAD/VOL.II/390, dated December 29, 2015, states that “1% Stamp Duty chargeable on contract awards and the remittance be made to the relevant tax authority (Federal Inland Revenue Service)”.
The Report also stated: “The audit observed that the sum of N5,828,621,715.06 was the amount of taxes not remitted by 12 Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has the highest amount of N2,984,887,250.00, while Federal College of Freshwater Fisheries Technology, New Bussa has the least amount of N1,021,011.13”.

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NCS, Apapa Records N870,39bn Revenue Boost

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The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) recorded an impressive performance in its revenue generation and anti-smuggling campaign in 2021.
Disclosing this recently during a review of its activities in 2021, the Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta, said the sum of N870.38 billion of the N2.24 trillion announced recently by the Service was collected in Apapa Command in 2021.
Giving an insight into the command’s revenue profile, Malanta told newsmen that the  N870.38 billion collected by the command was 68 percent more than what was collected in 2020 which was N518.4 billion.
He stayed that the Command recorded 103 seizures worth N31 billion in 2021.
Malanta identified the seizures as 46.55kg of cocaine, which was concealed on board MV Karteria and MV Chayanee Naree laden with raw sugar; containers of foreign parboiled rice, tomato paste, secondhand clothes, unregistered pharmaceuticals such as captagon pills, tramadol, codeine syrup, etc.
“These were seizures made in accordance with the provisions of sections 46, 47, and 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN 2004. These seizures are condemned by a competent court of law and the suspects are still undergoing investigation and interrogation”, the Customs boss said.
He continued that 5.38 metric tons of non-oil commodities were exported through the command as against 1.3 million metric tons in 2020.
According to him, the Free on Board (FOB) value for the exported items rose from $340 million (N140 billion) in 2020 to $641 million (N264 billion) last year.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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