The imposition of the Passengers Welfare Scheme by the Delta State government has generated anger and anxiety on Delta State residents as passengers traveling within or outside the state were asked to pay additional N100 fare for insurance.
The State Government has asked all motor park operators in the state to ensure that all passengers traveling with their vehicles are insured on their trips in case of accident to enable the injured or dead passengers to be compensated by the scheme accordingly.
But an incident that occurred after the imposition was gathered by SouthernVoiceNews on Friday, July 23, as it reported that hell was let loose when suspected hired touts alleged to have been detailed by the Delta State Directorate of Transport, came out in their numbers to intimidate, harass, and forcefully impound vehicles belonging to a popular transport company in the state demanding a sum of one hundred nairas per passenger from the drivers.
SouthernVoiceNews, also reported that one of the drivers who was molested and beaten for not providing the said amount per passenger narrated that, “I was on my way to Ughelli with Seven passengers from the park, but when I got to Immigration junction, I saw a crowd on youths with sticks and clubs flagging me down. I have to stop. They requested my manifest which I gave to them, but they said the company manifest is useless that it must be the state government manifest, then I told them that I won’t be the one to come to your office to collect the manifest and there should be anything of such, it must be your officials that will serve it to my company, but not me. This he said; infuriated them and before he knew it they started dragging my passengers down and gave me several random slaps before forcefully taking my vehicle away to the Oshimili South LGA Secretariat”.
A passenger who also narrated her ordeal questioned why she should pay an extra fare to the government. Continuing she said; the way and manners they stopped the vehicle is even enough to call them thieves but alleged that they were doing this with the backing of some policemen who came with them.
Another commercial driver whose vehicle was also impounded, told this reporter that it is not the duty of the driver to task their passengers, adding that if the state government want to be collecting 100 from each passenger, it should come from them but not from the drivers or the motor parks.
When this reporter visited one of the parks in Asaba, the manager who does not want his name in print, showed a flyer alleged to have been sent from the Directorate of Transport and it reads;
“Delta State Government, Passenger Welfare Scheme. All motor park operators in the state must ensure that all passengers traveling with their vehicles are insured on their trips. Failure to comply will attract fines for both passengers and park owners. In case of an accident, the inured or dead passengers would be compensated by the scheme accordingly”.
The manager noted that implementation of such demands will be difficult for them as park owners, on the ground that they cannot convince passengers to pay extra one hundred nairas when traveling after their normal fare.
In his words, “Those proposing such laws or making such demands should come to the park, talk to the passengers themselves and possibly live their officials on ground for such collection, he suggested. Again he said, the state government ought to have also created much awareness and sensitization before coming out to enforce the law.
Some passengers who spoke with these reporters lamented such imposition, noting that the state government cannot force such obnoxious and exploitative law on them.
A lawyer who was on transit via the harassed vehicle upheld that on no account should the state governor approve such a thing considering the harsh economy faced by citizens. He questions the honesty and proper management of such a scheme and states that it is dead on arrival as Deltans will revolt against it.
All efforts made to speak with one of the task force proved abortive as he threatened to give this reporter a mob attack.
Meanwhile, the impounded vehicle and passengers were said to have paid the sum of Twenty Thousand Naira before allowing the vehicle.
As at the time of filing this report, efforts to reach the director ministry of transport has proved abortive as his phone numbers were switched off, but from what is stated in the flyer, it is the motive of whoever is creating this to insure the lives of passengers, but the question remains why now and how sincere will the scheme run.
Thank you for taking your time in reading through our Journal Today. We wish to always provide you with qualitative Stories as far as GOOD-JOURNALISM is CONCERN. But good journalism costs a lot of money and only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, accountability democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism, we ask you to consider subscribing to our daily news updates.