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CHRICED knocks FCT admin over directive


Abuja. Photo credit: Getty

• Wants Official Behind ‘Incompetent’ Idea Sacked
• It’s Sacrificial Step Towards Devt, Exponent Argues

The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has condemned the directive by the transportation department of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) ordering all taxis operating in the territory to be air-conditioned before October 1, 2018.

FCTA Transport Secretary, Kayode Opeifa, had unveiled the controversial order in Abuja, last week, during a meeting with licensed taxi operators. The demand was part of a list of guidelines for commercial vehicles.

In a statement, however, CHRICED described the directive as “misguided, dictatorial and draconian”. It said: “To all intents and purposes, it is an elitist ploy to push ordinary citizens struggling to make ends meet through engagement in the transportation sector out of the space and engineer a takeover of the sector by dubious politicians posing as investors.”

CHRICED said: “Without prejudice to the discretion of the authorities to regulate transportation in the territory, this particular directive on air conditioner in taxis is, to say the least, a wicked ploy to undermine the livelihood of many ordinary citizens who engage in public transportation within the territory as a means of making ends meet, especially in the face of the harsh economic situation in the country. With unemployment standing at an all-time high, due to government’s failure to create jobs through right policies, it is untenable to use half-hearted elitist ploys to push Nigerians out of jobs in any sector.”

Calling for lawful resistance by especially transport unions and all Nigerians, CHRICED noted: “For us, the time is past when a government department would just wake up and whimsically make a directive, which would do incalculable damage to the livelihood of thousand of citizens depending on a particular sector for survival. If the government is so concerned about convenience of taxi users in the territory, it should design a scheme and create a phased approach to help operators in the sector acquire the kind of vehicles it wants used in the territory, not introduce a knee-jerk policy that is ill-digested and does not reflect the sociological realities on the ground.

“CHRICED is of the firm view that this directive is not well considered and that it is a demonstration of incompetence. The official behind it should be fired for sheer lack of competence and for attempting to unjustly disrupt the livelihoods of millions of families to justify some weird elitist posturing.”

The statement signed by CHRICED’s Executive Director, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M Zikirullahi, added: “This ill-digested directive must therefore not stand, and must be rejected by those who would be affected by its serious implication. Nobody, no matter how highly placed, should be allowed to experiment with the livelihoods of citizens, especially when the government has not provided viable economic alternatives.”

Some commuters, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday, also criticised the directive. One Mrs. Tosin Timothy, a civil servant, said: “We need electricity to do business, so that we can make money to afford taxis. Most time I have to walk a long distance just to reduce the cost of transportation. If they compel the taxis to have air conditioners, how will the common man pay the fares, when the economy is still biting hard?”

Her view was backed by Miss Rose Patrick, a beautician, who said: “My work requires electricity at all times, but hardly can one get it for four hours. It keeps going off and on. So, what is the use of the air conditioner I will enjoy in taxis and go back home to meet darkness?”

Others like Mr. Solomon Kayode, a businessman, however, commended the FCT administration for the initiative. He said: “I am surprised that some people are condemning the idea. What good do they really want, if I may ask? We all want development but Nigerians are not ready to pay for it. All we do is complain about things not working. And when the government is trying to do the right thing, people complain and criticise the government and call them names. I want people to know that the journey to development begins with this type of regulations and modernisation. It is a sacrifice everyone must make.”

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CHRICEDKayode Opeifa
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