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
DAPPMAN Raises Concern Over FG’s New Tax Regime
The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) has expressed concern over the new 0.5 per cent tax on gross turnover of the petroleum marketing firms proposed by the Federal Government.
Executive Secretary, DAPPMAN, Mr Olufemi Adewole, said at the maiden edition of the Platforms Africa Continental Forum in Lagos, that the tax would put many firms out of business.
Adewole said there were indications that fuel distribution crisis may soon hit the country, if the government implemented the new tax regime.
He was emphatic that more than half of the fuel marketing firms in Nigeria would close down, if the tax burden was slammed on them.
According to him, the imminent closure of businesses poses threat to the smooth distribution of petroleum products across the country.
“The petroleum marketing firms’ trading margin is too small that they cannot pay such amount sustainably.
“Petroleum marketers operate a very low margin but the turnover is very huge. Unfortunately the margin does not correspond with the turnover,” said Adewole.
He added that the margins they made when fuel sold at N40 per litre was the same when the price rose to N160 per litre and N200 per litre respectively.
According to him, “The Finance Act 2020 says the marketers have to pay 0.5 per cent from their gross turnover by the end of this year.
“It is unimaginable that probably half of the petroleum marketing firms existing now may go under, if the new tax regime is implemented.
“Except the regulator which is Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) approves a new margin for the marketers.”
He said the association had called on government to give petroleum marketers access to foreign exchange at the official Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rate to enhance the supply and distribution of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) across the nation this yuletide season.
According to DAPPMAN, shortage of foreign exchange (forex) coupled with several unauthorised levies, bad roads are among the factors making fuel importation and distribution burdensome for members.
The Tide source reports that the fuel marketers recently bemoaned the acute scarcity of forex in the official market, which is currently threatening the importation, distribution and impacting deeply on prices of petroleum products across the country.
Niger Wants NNPCL To Establish Truck Transit Parks
Niger State Government has urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPCL) to establish truck transit parks in some strategic parts of the state to reduce traffic on highways.
The government identified towns such as Tafa, Suleja, Mokwa, Bida, Tegina, Lambata and Minna as major areas to be given attention in that regard.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources in Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Idris, made the call during the meeting of National Council on Hydrocarbons organised by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in collaboration with the State Government.
According to him, the establishment of the parks in the identified areas will reduce traffic on highways and generate revenue for the state and country at large.
In the meeting entitled: “Roadmap and Strategic Option towards achieving energy transition in Nigeria”, Idris presented a memorandum from the State Government to the council on the need for the establishment of the transit parks.
He explained that it would also create a partnership between the state and federal government to reduce the negative effects of heavy road traffic on highways.
He explained further that the trucking industry was indispensable to the Nigerian economy as “truckers are responsible for delivering fuel from depots to filling stations where they are dispensed.
“For these reasons, funds need to be released to build truck parks for ease of operations”, he said.
He also called for the establishment of a frontier basin development commission with its headquarters in Niger State.
According to him, the establishment of the commission will expedite the effective implementation of Petroleum Host Community Trust Fund and frontier basin exploration fund as captured in the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 with headquarters in Niger.
He said Nigeria’s frontier basins consist of Anambra basin, the lower, middle and upper Benue trough, the South eastern sector of the Chad basin, the Mid-Niger (Bida) basin and Sokoto basin.
According to him, the basins would be better positioned for the opportunities in the hydrocarbons natural gas, oil and other minerals.
He noted that the establishment of frontier basin development commission would offer greater opportunities to actualise the state dream of oil and gas economic value-chain and industrialisation in Nigerian frontier basins.
Motorists Groan Over Fuel Scarcity
Long queues resurfaced in Lagos as motorists spent hours at filling stations to buy Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.
The situation was worse on Ikorodu Road, Maryland, Ikeja, Anthony, Bariga, Ilupeju and Gbagada areas as motorists were agitated for spending hours on queues.
The Tide source reports that the development left commuters stranded with gridlocks in major areas of Lagos as motorists queued to buy the product.
The source also reports that only filling stations owned by Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) had petrol and sell at the regulated price of N170 per litre.
Some stations owned by Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) sell between N200 and N210 respectively.
A motorist, who identified himself as Mr Foluso Saliu, told the source that he had been on the queue since 6.30 a.m. hoping to get fuel and return to work.
He said government should find a lasting solution to petrol supply in Lagos to avoid panic-buying.
“Scarcity has been frequent during the ember months and l hope it will be addressed,” he said.
Another motorist, Mr Julius Albert, urged filling stations to avoid selling petrol in jerry cans to allow vehicles to buy on time.
Albert appealed to the government to fully deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry if that was the solution to availability of petrol without stress.
According to him, the product seems to be available in some filling stations but they choose to hoard it and sell at higher prices.
Queues were seen at Mobil, NNPC, Conoil, Oando and Nipco filling stations on Ikorodu Road.
Also, queues were cited at TotalEnergies, TMAAC on Bank Anthony Road and Conoil, opposite LASUTH.
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