//Between Obaseki And Agberos In Edo State

Between Obaseki And Agberos In Edo State

Over the years, residents of Benin City, Edo State capital have grappled with traffic gridlocks in major roads in the metropolises.
The chaotic situation arising from the gridlocks had made driving in the city centre sometime provocative and cumbersome especially at the Ramat Park, Oba Market Road, Mission Road, Forestry Road by the Kings Square.
Others routes are New Benin by Mission road/New Lagos road interceptions and the notorious Third Junction by Upper Sokponba road.
To many who groaned under these traffic gridlocks on daily basis, the menace was self inflicting because was largely due to the activities of touting; otherwise known as Agberos who hide under the guise of revenue collection on behalf of the government.
The contractors, vested with the responsibility of collecting levies from designated locations within the 18 local government councils of the state, had included Akugbe Ventures, Professional Drivers Association, Drivers Welfare Scheme, Tipper Drivers Association and different revenue task forces and bodies.
These companies were owned by Mr. Osakpamwan Eriyo otherwise known as ‘No molest’, Mr. Tony Kabaka amongst others.
Investigations had shown that these individuals (Agberos) formed a government of their own in the aforementioned areas by condoning illegal park and random picking of passengers thereby causing artificial gridlocks.
For instance, these individuals at the time created what they termed “Aso rock” in these aforementioned areas where commercial drivers are made to pay extra 100 percent tax aside the government approved taxes.
“Aso rock” is a coded word to drivers to pay the revenue contractors extra 100 percent of the daily tax, proceed to discharged and pick passengers at anywhere of their choice which included middle of the roads.
Whilst these illegal acts strived, other road users were made to bear the brunt arising from the traffic gridlocks thereof.
Successive governments had grappled and succumbed to the antics of these few individuals who were notorious for aligning with any political party in power in order to continue to maintain their empires.
Only a handful of what was been collected as revenue from tax payers were remitted to the government coffers.
It was reported sometime ago that one of the contractors without former education had lavishly celebrated a threshold #2bn in his bank account in far away Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Oredo, a local government reputed for its economic hubs in the State was getting about N4 million monthly from these acclaimed private revenue contractors.
However, when Governor Godwin Obaseki , an investment banker took the mantle of leadership as governor of the State on November 12, 2016, the task before him was enormous.
As a financial expert, he was on a mission to ensure that government money was judiciously expended on government business. The governor set the tone for a new order when he announced the ban on private revenue collectors in January 2017.
Besides, the governor introduced an electronic platform for the collection of revenue by the means of Point of Service (POS) or revenue scratch cards for those who do not have ATM cards
At last the count, the first phase of the modality has created employment for 10,000 persons.
It was learnt that Governor Godwin Obaseki had directed Heads of Local Government administration in the state to forward names of contractors initially contracted as revenue collectors to Government House to jump start the job scheme.
One year after the governor’s initiative, the council Oredo local government revenue generation had improved from a paltry #4million to #37million monthly.
As a result of the establishment of the Benin Central park at Obakhavbaye to ease traffic congestion, coupled with the activities of Edo State Traffic Management Agency and Public Works Department, brought decency to major roads in the Benin metropolis..
But rewarding as the governor’s initiative is, some individuals who hitherto were benefiting from the spoiled system have constituted themselves into an opposition within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), dishing out falsehood in their bid to discredit the governor ahead of his second term bid next year.
Residents are however upbeat that the sanity that had returned to governance and infrastructural projects such as roads, the Edo jobs, technology hubs for youths innovation, amongst others are testimonies to Obaseki’s hard work and dedication to impacting the lives of Edo people.

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