Jos commuter system in a mess

An organized transport system defines and gives pep to any modern city anywhere across the world. Right from inception, Jos the capital of the then Benue-Plateau State was planned with an organized transport system. The late Commissioner of Police, Joseph Deshi Gomwalk who happened to be the first Governor of Benue-Plateau who had a very ambitious foresight when in his famous Jos Master Plan, laid a foundation for a transportation system which was designed to involve an underground intercity railway transport system, bus services and taxis.
This project unfortunately couldn’t survive the various changes of government, policies and economic descend and it has been from one form of improvising to another.
It is  however no longer news that the country is going through recession, even as the state is in a huge mess while lives and properties are in great danger due to the activities of miscreants who hijacked the transport system. The activities of most transport operators in the state, and especially the Jos Metropolis has left so much to be desired as they use this loophole in the transport system to engage in nefarious activities under the guise of transporters.
As it is transporters are left at the mercies of the transport unions with little or no government supervision to regulate the number of cars or buses plying the road.
The immediate past Governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang had tried to bring sanity to the system by banning commercial motorcycles from operation in the Jos-Bukuru Metropolis and thereafter brought in some number of taxis and Keke NAPEP to complement what was already on ground.
Unfortunately that did not last as the numbered taxis kept disappearing at an alarming rate until it became almost nonexistent on the streets of Jos.
The Public Relation Officer of ‘Tackling Poverty Together, TPT,  Mr. Bolade Johnson Taiwo revealed some of the challenges to PLATEAU NEWS, in an exclusive interview in Jos recently the project encountered some serious challengs that undermined the sustainability of the project.
Mr. Taiwo alleged that his association, ‘Tackling Poverty Together’ TPT was initiated by the past administration with the main aim of alleviating poverty and creating job opportunities to the teeming youths in the state as an empowerment program.
He disclose that “one hundred Suzuki taxi cars, fourteen buses, and three hundred KIA cars, together with five hundred Keke totaling nine hundres (914) vehicles were disbursed to the youths across the 17 LGAs of the state”.
Apart from individuals, Mr Taiwo said they were told that some of the vehicles were also given to the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW and the Plateau Riders, a transport company wholly owned by the state government.
Though the intervention was meant for youth empowerment, the beneficiaries were expected to remit a token of N15,000 at the bank weekly with the duration, the insurance plan and amount to offset the payment of the vehicles were not clearly stated. The brand of vehicles imported for the project were new in the market, therefore, spare parts were not readily available.
Presently, intercity taxis in Jos have been taken over by private vehicles and tricycles with some painted in Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, and even Lagos commercial colours. As it is the number of tricycles plying the streets of Jos, to say the least is alarming and overwhelming, as there are plenty of unregistered operators who are plying the streets without proper documentation and paying the requisite taxes as is obtained in other states of the federation as the case may be. Some of these transporters have continually constituted very serious nuisance to the unsuspecting commuters.
The beneficiaries of the tricycles had initially complained that shortly after they start operating, a lot of private business concerns imported vehicles into the market, and distributing same to drivers who started operating anywhere at any time and without recourse to proper registration as is supposed to have been.
At the beginning of this laudable project, the Suzuki and KIA vehicles were many but right now very few are plying the road. Investigation conducted by PLATEAU NEWS has revealed that most of the beneficiaries of the government largesse have abandoned the project, partly due to the breakdown of the vehicles and the dearth of spare parts and specialized mechanics in Jos to service them. They also complained that union officials at designated motor parks frustrated them by not loading their vehicles.
However, when PLATEAU NEWS visited the Head Office of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Plateau State Chapter, the state secretary of the union, Mr. Stephen Akintola, who spoke on behalf of the state chairman, said that though they were aware of the government’s good intention to reduce poverty as well as create jobs by initiating transportation system, but that they were left in the dark and also denied knowledge of the association benefitting from the scheme.
“I am not aware of any government handing over any vehicle as an association, though some members benefited individually, it has nothing to do with us” he said.
Mr. Akintola said certain things should have been considered first before importing such vehicles, especially the availability of the spare parts in the market as some have to travel as far as Ibadan to get spare parts, and lamented that NURTW was excluded in the distribution and did not even know the sharing formula.  The scheme, he noted, suffered serious challenges in the area of remittances of the loan, as most of the people that collected the vehicles were not honest in paying back to government as earlier planned.
“When you go to most of the workshops within the state capital like Farin-Gada, Bukuru, Tudun Wada , you will see most of the vehicles parked because of lack of spear parts, and if you don’t have the spear part to fix the problem of the car how can you ply the road again?”, he queried.
The State Secretary pointed out that the initiative of government to reintroduce painted taxis then was a good one in line with the policy of the Federal Ministry of Transport.  He outlined some of the challenges facing organized intercity transportation in the state to the proliferation of illegal motto parks without any form of coordination. He said if anyone has a car he will just ply the road and began to carry passengers.
He said the Union was collaborating with the Ministry of Works and Transport to handle the situation and would be happy if the system was sensitized in a way that government would begin to see the huge benefits the transport system would make to the state.
However, looking at the economical benefit of intercity transportation, government was losing huge revenue because they are not organized, and therefore difficult to tax.  If the government can bring the unions together under one umbrella to document and regulate the number of taxis and tricycles to be used in the city and their routes, it would go a long way in tackling the issue of insecurity and unnecessary traffic in the state.

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