By Kenneth Orusi, Asaba
As Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State plans to dissolve his cabinet over allegation of massive sabotage of his administration genuine efforts at developing the state, top officials of the state have been fingered in the theft of hundreds of tricycles procured by government.
The Governor had recently embarked on a transition to phase-out the use of commercial motorcycles commonly called Okada, and replace it with tricycles and taxi in some selected towns in Delta State.
But like the "Uduaghan taxi scheme" which was hijacked by top politicians and government officials, FrontiersNews has uncovered massive sabotage of the new tricycle ownership scheme.
Some top government officials in the state including the Commissioner of Transport, Mr Ben Igbakpan have been accused of smuggling the tricycles to traders at Onitsha, Anambra State at exorbitant rates.
Mr. Uduaghan disclosed at the commissioning of the tricycles scheme that, “each of the tricycle was purchased at the rate of N350,000 but will be given out to certified commercial cyclists at a subsidised rate of N250,000 each“.
He warned that, “No government official should take interest in the tricycles as they were not meant for them“, adding that any government official who want to do tricycle business should contact him stating that he would direct such to the dealers".
It was gathered that, after further consultation with relevant stakeholders in the transport sector, the tricycles were further subsidised and prices reduced to N150,000 each by the state government to forestall an already looming face-off with okada operators.
Since the ban on commercial motorcycle came to force in the state, over 1,500 tricycles have been deployed to Asaba, the state capital, with an ever increasing population, by the state government to ameliorate the hardship the ban on Okada may pose to commuters.
However, of the over 1,500 tricycles said to have been purchased by the Uduaghan‘s government, not up to two hundred tricycles are seen daily plying the roads of Asaba.
Commuters now wait longer hours before boarding one or even find taxi cab to their various destinations; even at exorbitant transport fares; thereby subjecting commuters to untold hardship.
FrontiersNews investigation revealed that, some government officials including Commissioners may have hijacked the tricycles with the intention of re-selling them between the rates of N250,000 and N300,000 each to amass wealth for themselves.
An impeccable source at the Government House, Asaba accused the Commissioner of transport, Mr Ben Igbakpan of conniving with government officials to hoard what is meant for the public as no meaningful effort have been made to recover the tricycles from hoarder by the government.
Confirming the obnoxious act of these shameless government officials to newsmen in an interview in Asaba, the transport Commissioner said, “We have heard that some top government officials have hijacked some of the tricycles and have in turn sold them to merchants at Onitsha while some others are still hiding their own“.
“We are still investigating the allegation, and will bring to book any Commissioner or government official found wanting“, he disclosed.
Mr. Igbakpan noted that efforts are been made to recover the stolen tricycles from anyone who is in possession stressing that, they are not meant for government officials but for certified motorcyclists who are registered with their various unions across the state.
In another development, FrontiersNews learnt that, the transport Commissioner, Mr. Igbakpan was alleged to have used his office to hijack buses belonging to the state's transport service (Delta Line) for selfish purposes.
Sources at the Directorate of transport and Delta Line said, “The Commissioner uses the buses for ceremonies and events at will“.
As at the time of this report, efforts to reach the Commissioner was unsuccessful as he refused to pick the calls put across his mobile phone by our correspondent.