Globally, public transportation is key to social, economic, and general human development. Public transportation is a means to create employment opportunities for citizens, a source of revenue and taxation and an avenue for well meaning members of the public to create a business enterprise with which they can earn an income, become an employer of labour, and pay taxes to the government of whichever jurisdiction in which they operate.
The public transportation system in Oyo State is no different to what obtains globally. The Oyo State government has its own buses, with private groups and individuals have the larger share of the public transportation sector. There are also the different unions that operate at various carparks who control the revenue collection at these parks and all these activities are controlled by the union chairman. It is important to note that the funds required to be an investor in the public transportation sector are quite high ranging from about NGN300,000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand Naira) for a motorbike (OKADA) to the multimillion Naira buses. The rewards are quite high as well,
however, there is no clear figure as to the average income as this is usually decided by the owner of the motorbike, taxicab, or bus.
The hullabaloo within the public transportation sector across most States in Nigeria is down to the revenue collection at the various motor parks, and Oyo State is no different. The question that always come up whenever there is a change of government or handover or renewal of tenure at the State level is: ‘who controls the motor parks?’, in other words, ‘who becomes the chairman of the road transporters’. The answer to these questions usually leads to major physical conflicts between different groups within the road transporter union, these fracases have in the past led to fatalities.
In 2019, to avoid the usual conflicts that accompany the change of chairmanship, the Governor set up the Park Management System and appointed Mr Mukaila ‘Auxillary’ as the State Chairman. This appointment came with its baggage, and some people felt it was the wrong appointment considering his antecedents and the role he played during Late
Governor Ajimobi’s years. Fast forward to the current situation, the Governor has removed ‘Auxiliary’ and appointed someone else. As a neutral observer, the issue of ‘old wine in new wine skin’ comes to mind. What is the difference between the new appointee and the old one ? There are certain questions neutral observers want answered, they are:
What support has the government put in place to help manage the emotional stability of these men in the motor parks?
Have these men undergone any form of therapeutic rehabilitation?
What training, campaign or code of conduct has the government put in place to manage issues relation to alcohol and substance misuse, personal presentation, Health, safety and security around the motor parks, proper road use, vehicle maintenance, customer care which will include adult and child safeguarding etc?
Will there be an introduction of automated revenue collection in and around the motor parks? If yes, when, and how?
Will the government provide the PMS staff with proper registration including ID cards, uniforms?
The situation that unravelled in the last 4 years makes answering the above questions key to the development that is expected within the Park Management System over the next 4 years. It is important that anyone involved in the PMS undergo serious training in several key areas to ensure history does not repeat itself. To be fair to the immediate past Chairman of the PMS, there was no obvious rehabilitation, training or human relationship support. Auxiliary had history, he had been in prison for some time before he was released and saddled with such enormous responsibility. He handled the role the way he knows best, and to be fair it is a generally accepted fact that the role of the chairman of transporters is not for the faint hearted. Although, majority of the men that fill the chairmanship role are gentle and kind in nature, they must however, play the role of ‘hardmen’ to maintain authority.
For example, the very first day I met Alhaji Akewusola Tokyo was about 25+ years
ago at his Elere residence which is along Odo-Oba/Boluwaji road. I can tell you from that very first impression that such a man with how he treated me that day gladdens my heart, and it was difficult to believe he is the same person everyone feared so much. My mother who at the time was a friend to one of Alhaji’s wives maintained a concurrent relationship with Alhaji Tawa’s second wife who also lived less than a kilometre away. It is a fact I grew up visiting the homes of Alhaji Tawa more often and the feeling is yet the same.
I had hoped that I would be able to work with Alhaji Mukaila Auxiliary before his recent travails in order to remodel the management system of our motor parks and road transport union so that they become more community friendly and have a more presentable image. To have grown up in Molete that was once regarded as the headquarters of Ibadan and Oyo state politics with the kind of brigadance that characterized the carriage and news around Baba Adedibu is also a contrasting image of how compassionate Baba is to me at my very first meeting (this was documented in my last post).
We must all realise that behind all these men there exists, someone’s father, a husband, a brother, a friend. Rather than stand on the side-line criticising the current situation, there must be an open and honest dialogue with everyone willing to accept their failings and the needed correction made. It is in line with this that I reached out verbally to those I know can get words to the Governor on what we need to do to salvage the already difficult situation we found ouselves with escalated public perception of our security situations beyond what truly applies. None got back or showed willingness to help push for partnership or collaborations.
The impact of news flying around about the activities of PMS shrouded the heavy investments of the Omituntun 1.0 which witnessed not only the procument of operational vehicles for our security operatives but collaborating with other southwest Governors in setting up the Amotekun corps. The new management team of the PMS with help from the state government must be ready and willing to remodel and rebrand their entire sector.
For a government that pride herself in
infrastructural development and upgrade of the transport sector as part of the new and effective strategies introduced towards achieving a sustainable development under Omituntun 1.0. The multimillionaire investment in the construction of car park at challenge, ultramodern bus terminal at challenge and Ojoor did not come without some backslashes from critics and oppositions in the state. It is yet to be seen how the government intends to not only fully optimize the use of these parks and all other ones in the state but also automate the payment system in such a way that justifies and track the worth of this investment.
Hopefully, this sector becomes a significant contributor the his excellency plans to build a N10 trillion economy from the current N4.05 trillion within the next four years.
Public affairs analyst and Environmental enthusiast