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Anambra coasting on robust transportation scheme



THE essence of governance is its good deliveries to people. It does not matter the system if it can present followers with expected improved living standard. Therefore, be it feudal, communism, democracy or any other system, citizens expect some measure of policies that impact positively on their lives from their government. In Anambra State, transportation is one sector that the citizenry cannot remember the last time they had it so rosy until the coming of APGA government and Obiano’s administration in particular.

  From the old Anambra State, the state government, through the Ministry of Transportation, had floated enviable land transportation schemes that penetrated the various towns across the many local government areas that make up the state as far back as the mid 1980s. That was known then as Transport Company of Anambra State (TRACAS) and the sight of its fleet within the towns always evoked the people’s sense of pride in their government.

  With its moderate fare package, it was able to break-even the monopoly of private operators under National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who then dictated transportation operations across the state according to their whims and caprices.   The ministry in her wisdom saw the need to intervene in the sector and brought on board TRACAS system. The robust offer TRACAS came with was enough to make her the preferred choice of majority of the middle and low income earners, making it not too difficult to build customer-traffic at their various terminals.

  However, the pace with which TRACAS took off waned very shortly such that at the turn of the early 1990s, it was almost a shadow of itself with rickety vehicles left on its already depleted fleet numbers. The resuscitation came upon the creation of new Anambra in 1991 but only a fringe of what TRACAS was known could be seen ever. Its inability to address the growing transportation needs of the burgeoning population became apparent. APGA government which came on board in 2006 rose to the occasion, drawing a master plan that gave birth to the emergence of modern cabs under former Governor Peter Obi’s administration and eventual arrival of long comfortable busses for intercity transport operations under the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano.

  As a matter of fact, Chief Willie Obiano deserves encomium for making this a reality at the very infant stage of his administration, signposting his government’s readiness to hit the ground running with mass interests policies. The metro- buses, a.k.a Willie Bus, which came on board in 2015 was obviously a novelty and delight to witness.

  Drawing from the inadequacies of TRACAS, the Willie busses began operations, conveying citizens of all walks of life from Awka to and fro Onitsha, Otuocha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Agulu and other adjoining towns across the zones of the state. Civil and public servants got additional deal with public servants’ modern coaster buses added to the fleet.

  The payable fare had been described as big relief to the populace who had suffered untold hardship from private transportation owners. According to a small scale business operator resident in the state, Mrs Chukwuma Grace,”close to five years, transportation fare from Awka to Onitsha, Otuocha, Nnewi, had remained stable and affordable. This is one huge benefit low and average income earners are enjoying from Obiano’s administration. Private operators have been known for hiking fares arbitrarily, especially during festive times but Anambra State Government has shown that such periods demand special incentives to citizenry. With such magnanimous spirit, the state government has for the past two years, offered free transportation to people in the state. It cannot be better than seeing a government show concern for the welfare of its subjects.”

  Of course, this singular gesture has pruned the wings of private operators who leveraged on the high number of commuters at festive times to hike fares and put the masses in dire straits.

To appreciate the magnanimity of a government bent on meeting the aspirations of the common people, the macro social and economic contributions of effective transportation system in the overall economic chain needs critical dissection. Even when the Willie buses may not engage in haulage of agro products from the hinterlands to the city, it may free up some other categories of vehicles to operate on that line and give farmers more latitude to boost agro supplies to cities.

  The negative impact of high transportation in the socio-economic clime cannot be better sampled than its consequences on the wages and salaries of workers whose earnings fall within minimum wage region. Public transportation alone takes a huge chunk of this basic earning with an average of N800 per day for workers coming from Onitsha to Awka. One may argue the choice of shuttling between the two cities for work and  residence but the truth is that a 30- minute drive-distance under normal circumstance between work and residential place is relatively not cumbersome, especially, where the affected person(s) can ill  afford accommodation expense within the capital city.

  While this present administration has made its mark in easing masses’ transportation plight by providing cabs, buses for intercity shuttles, it is imperative that the momentum be sustained not only by the present administration but succeeding governments. Periodic orientation should be conducted for the staff of this sector to put them abreast with modern techniques of service for best practices and efficiency.

  Both workers and commuters have duties to protect the facility and promote the ideals of government by being alive to the responsibility of accurate payment of fares, orderly boarding of the vehicle and good conduct on the part of commuters, while management and staff of the organisation should exhibit highest sense of accountability, transparency and decorum in their operations on their own part.

  Their generated revenue should as well be judiciously deployed into periodic re-investment, especially, in procurement of new vehicles, maintenance of existing ones as well as upgrading the operational facilities in the system.

  Though the establishment is primarily set to alleviate the sufferings of masses in transportation sector, its veritable revenue source to the government is not in any doubts. Therefore, efficient management in this sector will boost productivity, increase government’s realisable revenue, create more employment opportunities and connect the people directly with the dividends of good governance.

  While this establishment has lasted for about four years now (though still young), it is gradually eliciting worries why no modern terminals have been built for improved services to commuters and technical weakening of private competitors in the industry. The BRT (Lagos State version of Willie transport) is a template of successful venture in this sector. They have their special roots as well as terminals that factor-in operational convenience.

  Lagos State’s population and strong revenue generation capacity may be argued to have contributed to this massive progress but strategic action plans made the difference. Anambra State is known as beacon of light and pacesetters in their endeavors; it is only a matter of keen attention and more commitment to the sector and they will have a viable public transport system that will augment the absence of rail transport in the state and be the envy of others.

  The Ministry of Transport has a duty here to give ndi Anambra a more robust intercity transport schemes that will add more value to the people’s standard of living. The governor has made his intentions clear that the well-being of ndi Anambra is his priority agenda. The initial take off of this Willie inter-city transport scheme with brand new Indian Tata 79 passengers capacity busses attest to his vision without recourse to propaganda.

  China has an incredibly effective land transport system that caters for her huge population. Broad networks of bus stops, route numbers and use of electricity as well as battery powered busses for this purpose has made it so easy and effective in the city of Ghuanzou. Anambra State model can beat that if the willpower is there.

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