Facts emerged recently on how the Special Adviser to Governor Liyel Imoke on Public Transportation, Barrister Edem Ekong encouraged public transporters to carry excess passengers which negate the State public transport law and traffic regulations.
The public transporters had earlier embarked on strike in Calabar metropolis in 2012 over what the source described as excess taxes imposed on public transporters by the Department Of Public Transportation (DOPT) .
The strike which affected commuters and other users of public transportation in Calabar according to a reliable source in government circles got to the ears of the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke who ordered the reduction of the taxes.
Before the 2012 strike, three different daily taxes were collected from taxis and buses amounting to N400 in Calabar. These are N200 for DOPT, N100 Calabar Municipal while Calabar South also collected N100.
“When the governor intervened, he ordered that DOPT charges be scrapped leaving only N200 daily ticket for Calabar South and Municipal” the source said.
It was alleged that sometimes in February 2013, the special Adviser on Public Transportation, Edem Ekong met with the leadership and some members of the transport union at Paradise City Hotel, along Atekong Drive, Calabar with a message that all taxis are free to carry 4 passengers in their back seats with promise that his men on the road will not arrest them.
The Special Adviser was quoted as saying that he has no power over police and road safety on this promise as any taxi arrested by police and road safety will face the consequences.
The DOPT boss according to our source later said the taxi operators will from that day start paying N300 instead of the N200 the governor had earlier directed to be collected from them. The additional N100 is meant for DOPT while N100 is for Calabar South and N100 for Calabar Municipal.
Most of the taxi operators including Edem Eyo, Archibong Ita, Ndifreke Sunday and Sam Akpan who spoke with crossriverwatch confirmed the meeting and the increment introduced by the DOPT Boss which they said has been up to millions of Naira since the introduction in early 2013.
“Yes He met us at Paradise City Hotel and he said government said his department was not making good return to the state coffers. At first when he introduce the 4 passengers loading, members clapped for him before he said we need to pay more tax, this made members to be suspicious of his act.” Sam Akpan said.
“For me I cannot carry 4 passengers in my car because I know what the law says. That I’m a taxi driver was an accident of unemployment because I’m a graduate of Marketing from Unical so I know my right and what the law says”
“Edem Ekong is after what will come into his pocket not minding how we fair on the road; we will buy fuel, buy tickets, repair the car, pay deliver before will look for our own, all this from N50 passenger. So whether it is the state that pushes him or he pushes himself, he should trade with cautions.” Edem Eyo another taxi driver told our reporter.
Crossriverwatch investigation revealed that the Special Adviser to governor Imoke on Public Transportation, who is also a lawyer, is accustomed to taking unilateral decisions without recourse to subsisting regulations.
The latest being his unilateral decision to designate a trailer park to Lorries and heavy duty vehicles along EPZ area of Calabar, with huge financial involvement without the authorization of the governor or any executive resolution.
The development made the governor to inspect the trailer pack recently. It was during the governor’s altercation with the park operators that he found out his S.A. had authorized the park without his consent.
On getting to the park, the governor asked “Who authorized you to be parking here?
One the park operators replied, it’s Special Adviser on Public Transport, Edem Ekong, Your Excellency and we pay for it”.
The governor who was said to be furious over the act left the place with anger.
Several attempts to reach Barrister Edem Ekong were not successful as calls to his GSM phones did not connect.
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