Home CRIME Passengers call for probe of A’Ibom transport firm over alleged mismanagement

Passengers call for probe of A’Ibom transport firm over alleged mismanagement

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Governor Udom Emmanuel

By Dennis Udoma, Senior Correspondent, Uyo

 

Abuja-based Human Rights lawyers, Mr Jacob Udobang and Enobong E. Nda have called on the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to probe the gross mismanagement in the State owned Akwa Ibom Transport Company (AKTC).

 

The lawyer – activists, who’s called was contained in a letter to the Speaker, Hon Aniekan Bassey dated October 15, 2019 said, the malaise has led to the incessant breakdown of its commercial vehicles on nation’s high-ways, thereby exposing passengers to frustration and unwarranted security risks daily in the course of patronizing the company.

 

The lawyers in a letter titled, ‘‘public petition against the management of Akwa Ibom Transport Company Limited over gross negligence, abuse, neglect and lack of maintenance of their commercial vehicles, leading to incessant breakdown of vehicles on high-ways, exposure of passengers to avoidable risks, loss of resources and conduct injurious to the welfare of drivers and passengers; urgent call for probe, hearing and investigation of AKTC activities’’ said, they decided to bring the matter to the House of Assembly on behalf of stranded passengers, who regularly patronize company.

 

They said, as indigenes of Akwa Ibom State who have chosen and regularly patronize AKTC as alternative means of transportation, when they are not going by air believing in the company’s track record of service delivery until very recently, the incessant breakdown of their long distance buses have become one too many.

 

Mr Udobang and Co, while narrating their ordeal to Daily Watch said, ‘‘the recent developments of AKTC buses particularly, those plying Abuja to Uyo and Uyo to Abuja have become a recurrent decimal as they are facing incessant breakdown due to lack of maintenance and over use of their drivers, which have resulted in exposing their esteemed passengers to serious threat to life, security risk and other negative multiplier effects on the high way. Nobody will claim being unaware of the ubiquitous kidnapping, ritual killings and insurgency on our high ways wherein stranded passengers are easy targets. Unfortunately, several complaints over incessant breakdown of AKTC buses on the high ways and appeal for the AKTC Management to address these malaises have not yielded positive result.

 

‘‘From our personal experience apart from the previous ones, we recently boarded AKTC A/C bus from Abuja to Uyo on 30th September, 2019. The vehicle being the 1st A/C bus left AKTC Park, Jabi about 8:00am. About 3:00pm., the vehicle developed some mechanical faults along Kogi/Otukpa axis which must have given signals prior to the trip in question. The driver called the Enugu Office for a replacement, so that we could manage the bus to Enugu.

 

‘‘On getting to Enugu, there were more than enough passengers on ground; hence, the driver managed the bus until it finally stopped at a Police Check- Point before Isiagwu Junction, Enugu State. As at this time, about 7:35pm, calls to Uyo and Enugu AKTC offices did not yield any result which prompted me and 5 other passengers with extra cash to seek alternative vehicles, because of imminent security challenges and risky nature of the entire South East.

 

‘‘From Isiagwu Junction to Umuahia and finally Uyo, we arrived at 1:00am. The other passengers whom we left behind at Isiagwu Junction later informed us that, they arrived Uyo about 2:00 am as another bus sent from Uyo arrived Isiagwu Junction about 11:00 pm and they moved at such a gory hour not minding the armed robbers and other risk factors in that region against passengers popular advice. Between Enugu and Uyo, we saw over six other AKTC buses broken down along various locations and the bus that conveyed other passengers was used to carry overload with some other stranded AKTC passengers.

 

‘‘It is not in doubt that poor/lack of maintenance of AKTC vehicles by its management in recent times, and poor welfare package for drivers have not only endangered the lives of the passengers, but AKTC must be made to know that, they owe a duty of care to their esteemed passengers who are 99 percent Akwa Ibom indigenes, and non – maintenance of their vehicles amount to negligence and a breach of duty of care.

 

‘‘Another awful experience occurred on our way back to Abuja, we decided to try AKTC again at least to convince myself that the previous experience was not a coincidence. On Thursday 10, October 2019, we return to Abuja by AKTC. We paid for AKTC AC 1st bus to Abuja. Surprisingly, the bus developed issues at AKTC Monitoring Unit at Obot Akara, Akwa Ibom State. We met two other vehicles there waiting for repairs; one of the vehicles was conveying passengers to Lagos.

 

‘‘Our driver turned mechanic fixed our bus after 1 hour and we left and got to Enugu about 3:00 pm, the vehicle broke down again and by this time, the vehicle was not ready for the journey until about 5:00 pm. For fear of the security situation in the country and the distance from Enugu to Abuja roughly about 8 hours, we decided to check into a hotel and left the following day via a different transport Company. After arriving Abuja we put a call across to one of the passengers in AKTC, whom we travelled together to Abuja and he told me they got to Abuja about 2:00: am. We know as a fact that these are risks if AKTC was not being negligent in maintaining their vehicles in recent times and considering the safety of the lives of their passengers. For the law makes us to understand that, where there is wrong, there is remedy.

 

In view of the above, Barrister Udobang and Nda called on the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to carry out inquiry into the management of AKTC by setting up investigation or hold public hearing to verify his claims with a view to either overhauling the company, or review its agreement entered into with the managing partner; Nsik Motors though, it is currently alleged had gone into civil engineering construction work leaving AKTC to rot.

 

‘‘We owe ourselves a duty, as responsibility and a duty to address these anomalies timely before it leads to avoidable loss of lives and property’’, the lawyers warned.

 

Effort to confirm the allegation from the MD/CEO of AKTC was rebuffed as he was said to be travelling out but, some passengers who spoke to our correspondent on grounds of anonymity, also corroborated the issue and appealed to the state government to come to their aid, to save them from the ugly situation.

 

They expressed fears that, the situation was becoming unbearable to most of them travelling up North, South East and South West particularly, in the face of indiscriminate kidnappings and related crimes in the country.

 

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