Edem Edem in Calabar, reports on the lingering crisis in the marine and road transportation in Cross River State . The tension in the commercial transport sector in Cross River State, particularly in Calabar following the activities of government agencies came to a head when the transporters protested to the office of the Governor alleging extortion and excessive charges by the government.
Among issues raised by the protesting commercial drivers was confusion created by the doubling agencies of the Department of Transport and the Commercial Transport Regulatory and Monitoring Agency; the transporters are confused as to which agency they are to deal with regarding payment of government revenue. Due to the above situation, the Chairman of the Committee on Transport and Marine Services in the House of Assembly, Hon. Christian Achor Agbor, after consulting with the committee members summoned a meeting of all relevant stakeholders in the commercial transport sector in the state.
Consequently, at the meeting, it was observed that there was indeed tension in the commercial transport sector of the state, that the two government agencies in the commercial transport sector were not keeping to their statutory functions and that the commercial drivers were indeed confused, as to which agency of government they are to deal with.
It was also observed that the activities of the so called ‘Franchise’, whereby other unknown faces participated in the collection of levies, were not acceptable to some stakeholders and that the activities of ‘Franchise’ were depriving the government of revenue. Following the observations, the committee assured the commercial drivers and the two government agencies that it will explore the provisions of the laws of the state and come up with a position that will bring calmness back to the commercial transportation sector of the state.
The committee, after its meeting with stakeholders, with the objective of studying the two laws regulating the transportation sector of the state, the Cross River State Traffic Management Agency Law, 2015 and the Cross River State Commercial Transport Regulatory and Monitoring Agency Law 2010, arrived at various findings.
According to the findings, “From the critical analysis of the Traffic Management Agency Law 2015, it was found that the department of Public Transport existed for several years before the law was passed in March 2015 to regulate its activities, that prior to the passage of the law, the activities of the Department were directly carried out under the office of the Governor of the State.
“After the passage of the law, what existed as the Department of Public Transportation was suppose to transform into the ‘Enforcement’ department by virtue of the provisions of section 13(d) of the Traffic Management Agency Law, 2015: That the government was yet to implement the provisions of the Traffic Management Agency Law.”
It was also found that the failure of government to implement the law was largely responsible for the tension in the transport sector, that “by virtue of the provisions of Section 3 of the Traffic Management Agency Law, the Department of Public Transportation is basically saddled with the responsibility of traffic control in the state and nothing more.”
The Committee also held, “That the Department of Public Transportation, being the enforcement department was solely responsible for traffic management in line with the provision of the law, with particular reference to the schedule of the law, which spells out all traffic offences and their attendant fines, that the main aim of the DOPT and the Agency was traffic related and has nothing to do with revenue generation and control, except where motorists breach traffic laws and are fined for violations.
“Interestingly, after critical analysis of the Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency (CTRA) Law No 2, 2010, the Committee came up with the position that the CTRA Law was enacted in 2010 with the aim of coordinating and regulating the commercial transportation sector of the state, that the function of the Agency, contained in Section 5, clearly centers on the control of commercial transportation in the state.”
From the content of the law, the Agency was supposed to be a primary revenue generating agency of the state and that, summarily, the Agency has the powers to do the following including control and regulate all commercial vehicles in the state, liaise with all commercial transport Unions and Associations and Control the activities of motorcycles and tricycles in the state.
The Committee also came up with the position that the CTRA liaise with registered transport companies in the state, coordinate all activities of commercial transport in the state towards generating revenue for the government. CTRA was not supposed to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Agencies, as they have organs saddled with the responsibilities of policy making and implementation.
However, following the activities of stakeholders and an in-depth analysis of laws establishing and regulating the transport sector, the Committee recommended as follows; “that the Traffic Management Agency Law be fully implemented and the present DOPT be made the enforcement department of the Agency.
“That the Department of Public Edem Edem in Calabar, reports on the lingering crisis in the marine and road transportation in Cross River State . The tension in the commercial transport sector in Cross River State, particularly in Calabar following the activities of government agencies came to a head when the transporters protested to the office of the Governor alleging extortion and excessive charges by the government. The UNION Features Transportation be restricted to their statutory duties of Traffic Management, that all matters relating to commercial transportation be mandated to the Commercial Transportation Regulatory Agency as provided by the law and that the Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency be fully empowered to enable it achieve its mandate of generating revenue for the government.
That the activities of the so called ‘Franchisees’ are unknown to the laws of Cross River State relating to the transport sector and as such their activities are illegal, inimical to the peace and harmony in the commercial transport sector. The Agency, by the provisions of the law, therefore enjoys total control over commercial transportation in the state to the exclusion of every other agency, except traffic matters.
Consequently, after careful study of all the relevant laws of the state, the committees discovered the following that the term ‘Franchisee’ is not contained in any law of the state relating to commercial transportation. It said the Section 23 of Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency Law only recognizes industrial Association or Trade Unions, recognized by the government. Also, it said the essence of such unions or association was for industrial harmony and ease of coordination by the government and not for the purpose of revenue collection, as the law prohibits collection of revenue by any individual outside the staff of Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency.
It faulted past governments for contracting revenue collections to the so called ‘Franchisees’ in total contravention of the law. As far as revenue collection, on behalf of the government, from commercial transporters was concern, only the CTRA has the right to decide on what should operate, subject only to directives by the Governor following the advice of the Commissioner for Transport or Special Adviser to the governor on transportation.
From the foregoing, the provisions of both the Traffic Management Agency Law and the Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency Law empowers the Commissioner or Special Adviser to the Governor advises the Governor on policy drive in the transport sector. Other functions of the said officials include serving as liaison officer between the governor and the various Agencies operating in the transport sector, overseeing the activities of all agencies in the transport sector, ensuring that all the Agencies keep to their statutory mandates, as contained in laws establishing them.
“That all matters relating to the ticketing or toll to commercial transporters be left in the hands of Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency, that all issues relating to traffic breaches and issuance of fines, tickets on violation of traffic code as contained in the Traffic Management Agency Law be left in the hands of Traffic Management Agency and Department of Public Transportation: That, the Commissioner for Transport or Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation ensures that all Government Agencies with transport mandate keep to their statutory duties.”
With this intervention by the lawmakers, it is expected that reason would prevail and Cross Riverians would begin to enjoy without hindrance the services of transporters in the road and water sectors.