A development advocate in Delta state under the platform of New Delta Initiative NDI, Comrade Ezekiel Kagbala, has appealed to the state Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, to reconsider the implementation of the travel insurance policy adding that economic intimidation is not good for Deltans.
Kagbala who spoke with news men in Asaba lamented that it is unfortunate that citizens of Delta state have been subjected to a new level of harassment by the government and its officials.
He noted that the recent implementation of the passengers welfare scheme by the Okowa government dictates that each and every passenger and transporter must pay the sum of N100 to the government for travel insurance and failure to comply will attract fines for both passengers and park owners.
Urging the state government to reconsider its position, the development advocate stated that there is a plethora of vices in that policy starting from its mode of implementation to its poor timing.
For instance, on Friday, 23 July, suspected hired touts alleged to have been detailed by the directorate of transport, Delta state, came out in their number intimidating, harassing and forcefully impounding vehicles belonging to a popular transport company in Delta demanding a sum of one hundred Naira per passenger from the drivers.
“Why the aggressive revenue generation from the poor to enrich some select people, who have never got questioned for generating the state’s revenue into their own pockets.
“The plight of the motorists and passengers could be heard in the reports they gave after they were molested and extorted by these ‘government officials’ who looked more like crudely armed touts.
“The way and manners they stopped the vehicle, according to victims, was enough to call them thieves, but they alleged that they were doing this with the backing of some policemen who came with them.
“The situation can ominously be compared to the circumstances that led to the #ENDSARS protest, as back then, the SARS officials were more of thugs who instead of upholding the law caused further anxiety and insecurity in the society with their violent and oppressive mode of operation.
“It is absolutely alarming that the Okowa government would utilize such means in the implementation of this policy thereby placing innocent citizens at the mercy of brutal touts, in the name of government officials. I am appealing that a decent society should not be compromised.
“Another factor worthy of note is that the price of transportation is already expensive due to the increase in the cost of fuel. When the poverty level in the state is added to the high cost of living, the people are barely surviving as it is. This policy will no doubt further increase the cost of transportation in the state.”
However, instead of the Okowa led Government to put in more effort to alleviate poverty, they have devised a new means to violently extort the citizens, thereby making life more difficult and unbearable.
“There are other aspects in the State that require urgent attention. For example, the power supply in the state is epileptic and this has adversely affected industrialization and employment.
“The rate of insecurity is grossly alarming. The level of wrongly disposed refuse and mentally unstable people in Delta State cannot be contended. The state health services is terrifying.
“The government is encouraged to fix all these. Make the environment and cost of living better. Adding to the travails of the citizens in a critical time like this, is inhumane”.