Over the years, residents of Benin City, Edo State capital have grapple with traffic gridlocks in major roads across the Metropolis. The chaotic situation arising from the gridlocks have by extension, make driving in the City centre sometime provocative and cumbersome especially the Ramat park, Oba Market road, Mission road/forestory road by the King
Over the years, residents of Benin City, Edo State capital have grapple with traffic gridlocks in major roads across the Metropolis.
The chaotic situation arising from the gridlocks have by extension, make driving in the City centre sometime provocative and cumbersome especially the Ramat park, Oba Market road, Mission road/forestory road by the King Square.
Others routs are new Benin by Mission road/New lagos road interception and the notorious Third junction by Upper Sokponba road.
To many who groan under these traffic gridlocks on daily basis, the menace is self inflicting largely due to the activities of touting; otherwise known as ‘agberos’ who hide under the guise of revenue collection onbehalf of the State government.
The contractors, vested with the responsibility of collecting levies from designated locations within the 18 Local Government Councils of the State, include Akugbe Ventures, Professional Drivers Association, Drivers Welfare Scheme and Tipper Drivers Association, revenue task forces as well as other bodies.
The companies were owned by Mr. Osakpamwan Eriyo otherwise known as nomoless, Tony Kabaka amongst others.
Investigations showed that these individuals (Agberos) have formed a government of their own in the aforementioned areas by condoling illegal park and random picking of passengers thereby artificial gridlocks.
For instance, these individuals at the time created what they termed “Aso rock” in these aforementioned areas where Commercial drivers and made to pay extra 100 percent tax aside the government approved tax.
“Aso rock” is a coded word to drivers to pay the revenue contractors extra 100 percent of the daily tax, proceed to discharged and pick passengers anywhere of his choice which includes at the middle of the road.
Whilst these illegal acts strived, other road users are meant to bear the brunt arising from the traffic gridlock thereof .
Successive government have grappled and succumbed to the antics of these few individuals who are notorious for aligning with any political party in power in order to build an empire for themselves.
Only a handful of what is been collected as revenue from tax payers is remitted to the government coffers.
Once upon time, one of these contractors without former education lavishly celebrated a threshold N2 billion in his bank account in far away Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Also the individual purchase a lion and lioness and kept same in his house allegedly for self protection!
The insane move and hunger for personal triumph, according to many was the height of impunity these self acclaimed warlords, conferred on theirs elves without recourse to the fact that these animals and not pet and cannot be kept in private residents.
Government in itself was like a biblical small David confronting “giant Goliath” in its bid to change the narrative in the past, let alone helpless Citizens.
Oredo, a government reputed for its economic hubs in the State gets about N4 million monthly from these self acclaimed private revenue contractors.
These chilling reminder of everything that was wrong with the State, was however reversed when governor Godwin Obaseki, an investment banker took the mantle of leadership as governor of the State on November 12, 2016 the task before him was enormous.
To many, it is either allowing the private individuals to smile to the bank of allow the citizenry/task payers to suffer.
Flowing from his background as financial expert, he was on a mission to ensure that government money is judiciously expended on government business. The governor had set the tone for a new order when he announced the ban on private revenue collectors in January 2017.
Besides, the governor introduced an electronic platform for the collection of revenue by the means of Point of Service (POS) or revenue scratch cards for those who do not have ATM cards
At last count, the first phase of the modality has created employment for 10,000 persons as part of the fulfillment of 200,000 job promise for the governor’s electioneering.
Besides, government says it would establish an electronic platform that will collect revenue by the means of Point of Service (POS) or revenue scratch cards for those who do not have ATM cards.
It was learnt that Governor Godwin Obaseki had directed Heads of Local Government administration in the State to forward names of contractors initially contracted as revenue collectors to government house to jumpstart the job scheme.
And in a year after the governor’s initiative, the council (oredo local government) revenue generation has improved from a paltry N4 million to N37 million monthly!
Moreso, decency has returned to roads in the metropolis. Thanks to the governor’s establishment of the Benin Central park at Obakhavbaye to ease traffic congestion, the Edo State Traffic Management Agency and public works department.
Rewarding as the governor’s initiative is, the embattled individuals have constituting themselves into an opposition within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) dishing out falsehood in their bid to discredit the governor ahead of his second term bid next year.
Residents are however upbeat that sanity that has returned to governance and infrastructural projects such as roads and the Edo jobs, technology hubs for youths innovation are testimonies to Obaseki’s hardwork and dedication to impacting lives.