Following the disruption of services and assault of commuters at the Ikot Oku Ikono junction Motor Park, a couple of weeks ago, by a combined team of members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, men of NSCDC, and armed policemen, our investigations have thrown up a lot of illegalities involved in the management of motor parks in Akwa Ibom State.
Reminiscent of the usual gestapo style of operation by many Task Forces in Nigeria, the NURTW Task Force had invaded the motor park at about 11.04 am in a hired mini-Bus with police men firing indiscriminately into the air. Passers-by and commuters waiting to board commercial vehicles were confused for a moment.
In their attempt to force the closure of the motor park which serves as the central connecting point for commuters heading for Etinan, Afaha Nsit, Eket, and other nearby areas, passengers were assaulted, while many phones, cash and other valuables were stolen.
Our correspondent who witnessed the incident explained that there was a long running conflict between the NURTW, and those contracted to manage the various motor parks, and generate revenue for government. The Ikot Oku Ikono Junction motor park is is one that generates revenue for Uyo LGA.
It was gathered that the conflict snowballed into confrontation during the tenure of Hon Oman Esin as the Commissioner for Transport and Petroleum Resources.
In a reported attempt to resolve the conflict, a stakeholders meeting was convened on Friday November 2, 2018 at the residence of Sen Ibok Essien in Ikot Ekpene. An Ad-hoc committee was set up during the said meeting. It was reliably learnt from an insider that the meeting was design by the National Union and RTEAN to explore ways to acquire credibility to take over the management of motor parks, and also close down the ones which management is deemed as not cooperating with the Union in its takeover bid.
On Monday November 5, 2018 the Ad-hoc committee members selected at the Ikot Ekpene meeting met at the Palace of the Paramount Ruler of Uyo, His Royal Majesty Edidem Sylvanus Okon. Curiously, the Uyo Local Government Area constitutionally vested with the power to create, manage (directly or indirectly) and generate revenue from motor parks within its sphere of authority was not made a part of the series of meeting, the Ad-hoc committee, and Task Force to enforce the decisions of the committee.
In that meeting, the Commissioner Oman Esin was represented by his SA – Mr Joseph Umoren. In addition to His Royal Majesty, the Paramount Ruler of Uyo who was present, others were Comrade Emmanuel George – the Ad-hoc committee Chairman and state Chairman of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) representing his Association; Obonguwem Imoh Inyang – the state chairman of NURTW representing his union.
Obongemem Austin Edet JP who acted as the Secretary also represented the Long Distance Commercial Transport Association, while Hon Maurice Edet represented the ministry of transport & Petroleum Resources.
An nonymous source who obliged the duly signed reports of the meetings pointed out that what was done at the Palace of the Paramount Ruler of Uyo, was already agreed on, before and after the Ikot Ekpene meeting, and that it was one of the strategies to take over the management of the motor parks, unknown to the Paramount Ruler, His Royal Majesty Edidem Sylvanus Okon.
In the minutes of the meeting, resolution (a) states: “that an agreement be made between the State Government and the Transport Unions and Associations (NURTW, RTEAN and Long Distance Commercial Transport Association) for the Union to manage and run the motor parks since the unions have agreed to come together”.
Fearing possible resistance and backlash, the Union decided that they needed protection. To this end, resolution (b) states: “that government should direct the Police to provide security to the said unions and associations to effectively manage the motor parks”. And (c) “that government should allow the unions to put in place an independent and formidable MONITORING TEAM to check ILLEGAL LOADING/OFF LOADING outside the government built and approved parks”.
The Ad-hoc committee in its carefully choreographed resolution listed “5 government approved motor parks” to the exclusion of the motor park at Ikot Oku Ikono junction. Surprisingly, they also stated that the unions have unanimously agreed on their part to pay #250,000.00 monthly for the five (5) parks, excluding maintenance”.
Also eying the lucrative mini-Bus sector, the Union proposed that the state government cede the daily ticketing regime to them at the sharing formula of NURTW – #100, RTEAN – #100, Government – #100 making a total of #300.