Reps Investigate Failure of Nigeria’s Mass Transit Schemes Since 1999
By Adedapo Adesanya
The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee is investigating the failure of Federal Mass Transit schemes in the country since 1999 as lawmakers have decried the serial mismanagement of public funds in Urban Mass Transit Schemes without results.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Afam Victor Ogene, in a statement in Abuja recently, warned that the committee will get to the root of the mismanagement of the funds that run into billions of Naira.
The lawmaker expressed displeasure at the seeming reluctance of ministries and agencies to release documents relating to public funds expended on previous Mass Transit Schemes.
“This investigation becomes important, especially at this period of gruelling multifaceted economic challenges that have heightened the sufferings of the people and lowered the living conditions of many,” he said.
The Labour Party representative of Anambra state 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 Programme (SURE-P) funds under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, and 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. However, according to TIB, many of the beneficiaries defaulted and didn’t repay the loans.
“Records have shown that as of 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,” he said.
The chairman of the committee also said that on October 4, 2016, the then Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Mr 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”.
He said the committee had been mandated to look into 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.