I joined a tricycle recently from IBB junction to Ibom plaza at about 10.00am. Immediately I boarded the tricycle, three hungry but fiercely looking guys surrounded the tricycle, their bloodshot eyes suggested they have had enough toxic substances that have virtually replaced the blood flowing in their veins. Pulling the keys off the tricycle they rolled the machine to a good packing space by the roadside before attempting to ask the rider for his tickets. Embarrassed, the rider tried to question their action since it was not yet 12.00pm and he still had 2 good hours to go before answering any queries as regards the tickets.
After some minutes of scruples, the rider presented a ticket and the tax force operatives released his keys to him. We proceeded. “That was really uncivilized of the tax force” I commented. “That’s how they behave”, another passenger responded and a conversation ensued. The tricycle rider now took the center stage in the discussion and expressed his disappointment in the entire system. “The official time for checking the tickets is 12.00pm”, he said. “But imagine these boys coming out now, what happens to those who are just coming out of the house now” he concluded, dismayed.
I alighted from the tricycle and my mind ran through a thousand solutions the government can proffer using Information Technology to avoid these embarrassments. It was during my interaction in the tricycle that I understood that a tricycle operator had held a tax force member, smashing his head on the pavement along Idoro Road. Other members of the tax force operation had descended on the tricycle operator but before they could inflict serious injuries on the tricycle operator, the feud became “keke riders versus tax force” aborting the latter’s illegal operation for that morning.
ICT offers solutions to most problems faced by our society today. The youths can conveniently tap into the opportunities the sector offers and the government can equally engage practitioners for the benefit of proffering solutions on pressing issues. It is very embarrassing that people will jump into a tricycle at a roundabout struggling the control with the rider all because the invader wants to proof if he had gotten a ticket for the day. Let me share one way the Ministry of Science and Technology can partner with that of transport to save commuters from these embarrassments and accidents.
Having a central server, a simple application can be developed to manage the ticketing of tricycle in Akwa Ibom State. With the internet present in Uyo, a software can be developed and all the tricycle operators need do is buy the ticket for the day with the Quick Response (QR) Code. The tax force operators can then approach a tricycle with the ticket pasted on the tricycle and scan the QR Code. Immediately, this will indicate on their smart phone “Paid” or “Not Found” depending on the status of scanned ticket.
In Uyo alone we have well over 20,000 tricycle operators. This rough estimate is obtained from the MOT numbers given to operators by the ministry of transports in the State. Now if every tricycle is charged a token of five naira daily as being the cost for the maintaining the application and the payment of the developers to maintain the app, the government will be making not less than three million naira (N3,000,000) a month from running this simple application and this will reduce to greater extent the embarrassment commuters are facing daily in Uyo.
This is what ICT offers. Several opportunities litter the industry landscape untapped and unused. It behooves therefore for the current commissioner for Science and Technology to bring IT Practitioners in the Akwa Ibom ecosystem together to brainstorm on how to tap into the many opportunities the ICT Sector has to offer. Above is just one out of a million ideas that could be converted to physical cash without much capital.
Another asset I have been hammering on in the state is the Ibom e-library. With the infrastructure lying almost wasted at the centre of the city, the commissioner for science and technology can convert this asset into money making machine for the state and IT practitioners immediately and secure an investment for the library that will turn out some good money for the state in the nearest future.
As stated earlier in one of my articles, converting the library to a hub could be an investment the state had been waiting for while we continue the construction of the Ibom Science Park. Setting up a hub at the elibrary can transform the e-commerce landscape of the state. This could be incubation centre for hundreds of ideas and once an idea matures and the applications gets across then one can be sure of sustainably empowering some interested youths who will take advantage of this opportunity.
Dr. Nse Udo Essien the present Commissioner for Science and Technology in the state has promised “that his mission in the State Executive Council as the Honourable Commissioner for Science and Technology is to make the Ministry a reference point for all ICT innovations in the state.” With the 2017 budget yet to be implemented, IT professionals in Akwa Ibom State expects more results in the investments towards IT innovations in the state counting on the Commissioner’s experience.