Commercial drivers in the state have lamented that the new unified taxation system introduced by the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue (RIRS) to harmonise all taxes and eliminate multiple taxation, has failed. The drivers say they are forced to pay for other tickets and fees by union, agencies, association and community, in addition to the RIRS unified tax.
The drivers said that they earlier welcomed the introduction of the new unified taxation system with open hands, believing that it would solve the problem of multiple taxation bedeviling the road transport sector, adding that it has rather added more financial burden on their daily return.
They urged the government to review the new tax regime to affordable rate that would enable them meet up their daily return, stressing that the old system of paying tickets were better off.
The Tide correspondent who visited Nkpolu Oroworukwo (Mile 3) Motor Park, Rumuokoro and Eliozu Park, reported that drivers are still made to pay tickets for the maintenance of park and fees for loading of passengers.
Some of the drivers who spoke to The Tide, expressed anger over the multiple payments.
A commercial bus driver who plies Mile 3-Choba route, John Ibekwe, said: “we to buy government ticket at N400, buy the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) ticket at N200 for what they called park maintenance, then you arrived at Choba park you pay another N300. This is worrisome and you complain, government will say it is one ticket, while the union will insist on collecting their money and government is not doing anything to protect the interest of the commercial bus drivers on this route, rather they are after their own N400 taxi ticket”.
A taxi driver, Peter Udoka, said “I am very angry, we embraced the government unified tax regime thinking we are safe, not knowing that we are putting ourselves in financial trouble. I drive taxi and I buy tickets worth N900 every day, couple with the government ticket”.
Also speaking, Chinedu Ogumka, noted “government said we should buy one ticket which is N300, but on top of that we buy additional National Union of Road Transport Workers N100 ticket. That suppose not to be so, let us know the one we are following, it is unfortunate that government cannot control what it has started, rather they are after their N300, leaving us in the dark to keep on clashing with the other agencies and unions”
A driver who plies Eliozu to Eleme junction, Batam Bari said “as we pay for ticket here at Eliozu, we will also pay at Eleme junction, which is not fair and in a day the amount I pay is up to N1000 to government, touts, union, community and others, you can see what we are passing through”.
Effort to speak with the NURTW officials proved abortive.
Immigration Steps Up Anti-Touting Vigilance
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Passports Command, Ikoyi, has increased its surveillance on touting in a bid to check extortion within its jurisdiction.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with The Tide in Lagos, last Friday, the Immigration Comptroller, Passports Office, Ikoyi, Lagos, Deputy Comptroller Liman A.I , said the negative impact of touting on the nation’s economy would not be allowed to continue under his watch.
He said ,”we are applying persuasion, dialogue and seeking the support of all well meaning stakeholders in this area to spread the anti-touting message and dissuade people from unlawful acts. However, we could apply coercive power as the need arises.
“With the selfless leadership shown by the Comptroller General, Alhaji Mohammed Babandede, we at the PCO, Ikoyi, Lagos, have decided to re-dedicate ourselves to duty and complement the efforts of the CGIS.
“We are prepared more than ever to wage the anti-miscreants war relentlessly.
Liman assured the general public of friendly environment for legitimate transaction in an effort to strengthen the national economy, warning deviants to shun touting and other related vices.
According to him, “the command has keyed into the various strategies including the use of ICT in gathering of intelligence, among others.
“The service believes that the fight against miscreants within its corridor cannot be undertaken by the service alone, hence our call on Nigerians to partner with us in ensuring that the passport seekers do not patronise touts to defraud them. Our resolve is unshaken and our commitment is total”.
On her part, the Public Relations Officer of the command, a Deputy Superintendent of Immigration (DSI), Mrs Adetoun Shiyindemi, commended the Deputy Comptroller Liman, for his selfless service, pointing out that he has really given the officers and men of the command a sense of belonging.
“Since the Comptroller came in, it has been a servant-leader relationship here at Ikoyi PCO and we are all motivated to put in our best with what the CGIS has given us, you will see a new immigration service”, she assured.
By: NkpemenyieMcdominic, Lagos
Union Urges NIMASA, RSG To Dredge PH/Bonny Jetty
The Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA) has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Rivers State Government to dredge the Port Harcourt/Bonny Jetty to enhance marine operations.
The union said the low shore of the river hampers its operations and grounds boats.
The Marine Safety Officer, BMTA, Comrade Kings Don, who made the call, said the low shore of the jetty was not helpful to marine operations.
According to him, drivers and passengers find it difficult to ply the route whenever the tide is low, thus wasting man hours.
“Sometimes, we push the boat to a level it would afloat due to low tide suffered in the jetty. We are appealing to NIMASA and the state government to assist and dredge the jetty for more efficiency”, he pleaded.
Don described the Port Harcourt/Bonny Jetty as the gateway to Bonny Island and other riverine communities, and called on NIMASA and the state government to intervene and make the marine sector viable in the area.
He said that the prompt dredging of the jetty would enhance water transportation in the state and improve its revenue generation.
He, however, commended the security agents, especially the Nigerian Navy and the marine police, for rescuing the waterways and creeks from all forms of criminality.
Comrade Don appealed to the security agents to engage in 24-hour patrol of the routes and other channels to save lives and property.
By: Chinedu Wosu
Boat Mishaps: Ship Owner Blames Absence Of Safety Regulations
A renowned ship owner in the country, Alhaji Aminu Umar, has decried lack of standardisation and enforcement of safety measures on the nation’s inland waterways by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
He also blamed lack of will to enforce regulations, safety, standard and regulations on overloading, night voyage, rickety and old craft as causes of mishap on the inland waterways.
Alhaji Umar, who is a former president, Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), said in Minna, Niger State, recently that enforcement of safety and standard on the nation’s inland waterways was weak.
Reacting to incessant boat mishaps in the country, Umar said, “there is no standard applied on movement of people, as all kinds of boat are being used. It is important that we standardise, because lack of safety and standard will increase accident.
“I think, the task of NIWA is to standardise conditions and procedures on the nation’s waterways”.
He also called for the regulation of movement of badges and passenger boats across the port environment.
“It’s a huge risk allowing badges moving containers around the port area side by side with boats carrying passengers.
“Moving people and containers at the same time is a huge risk, and a safety concern.
“NIWA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should see to this and tackle the menace”, he said.