The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee to investigate Failure of Federal Mass Transit Schemes in Nigeria since 1999, has decried the serial mismanagement of humongous government investments in Urban Mass Transit Schemes to ameliorate transportation challenges, with resultant abysmal results.
The Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, August 28, 2023, warned that the Committee would get to the roots of the mismanagement of the funds that runs into billions of naira ploughed into the scheme by successive governments, without commensurate impact since 1999.
He expressed displeasure at the seeming reluctance by line ministries and agencies, in releasing documents relating to public funds expended on previous Mass Transit Schemes.
“This becomes important especially at this period of grueling multifaceted economic challenges that have heightened the sufferings of the people and lowered the living conditions of many,” he said.
Hon. Ogene, who represents Ogbaru Federal Constituency in Anambra state and who is also the Labour Party caucus leader in the House, disclosed that in 2012 alone, over N16 billion was released through The Infrastructure Bank (TIB), for the purchase of busses for Public Mass Transit, from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programe SURE-P funds, under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, from the Public Mass Transit Revolving Fund, PMTF.
“A total of 1,179 vehicles were released to the beneficiaries under the scheme, with a repayment plan covering four years. But according to TIB, many of the beneficiaries defaulted and didn’t repay the loans.
“For instance, records show that as at December 2015, only two of the beneficiaries, ABC Transport PLC and The Young Shall Grow Transport Limited, liquidated their loans. Most of the beneficiaries are yet to pay as stipulated in the contractual agreements signed between them and TIB.
“Perhaps because they see the funds as usual government bonanza. But this is where they get it wrong because they can’t be living large with our collective scarce resources while the people suffer as a result of poor Mass Transportation. The Committee shall make the defaulters to account for every government money they have misapplied.”
The chairman of the committee also said that on October 4th 2016, the then Minister of Industry,Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah announced that the federal government had also set up a N25 billion revolving loan scheme to enable transport companies in the country purchase Mass Transit Vehicles.
Just a year ago, August 2022, the immediate past Minister of State for Transport revealed that the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the establishment of yet another Mass Transit Scheme, and a committee set up for its implementation.
In view of these developments, especially with documented abysmal results, Hon. Ogene said that his ad-hoc committee has been mandated to look into all these developments, with a view to finding out what went wrong. Who did what. And why the people are being made to suffer as a result of what may likely be individual, corporate or institutional failures.
The Committee’s brief covers road transport, waterways and rail transportation in Nigeria.