By Dapo Akinrefon, LAGOS
A pressure group, Omo Eko Pataki, yesterday, faulted the proposed N800 transportation levy imposed on commercial bus drivers by the Lagos State government describing it as cruel, ill-advised and patently outrageous.
In a statement by a trustee of Ọmọ Eko Pataki, Maj. Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retd), the group noted that transporters will transfer the heavy toll to commuters just as he urged the state government to scrap the proposal.
The statement reads: “The newly imposed levy of N800 on all transporters by the Lagos state government is cruel, ill-advised and patently outrageous.
“In a time of general economic hardship when many Nigerians can hardly afford three square meals a day, it is unconscionable to impose more burdens on the hapless citizens of Nigeria’s commercial centre.
“Transporters will naturally transfer this heavy toll to commuters which in turn will cause multiple spiral effects on the cost of foodstuffs and general goods.
“The ultimate effect of this pure extortionist policy will vitiate the economic well being of the rich and poor. Nobody will be immune including those who are turning governance into an insentient money-making machine.
“This is unfair. This is unjust. This is unacceptable. The first principle of governance is to protect and serve the interest of the electorate.
Unfortunately, the Lagos state government has warped this principle. It is obvious to us now that the Sanwo-Olu government is indifferent to the welfare of our people. Its fixity is borne upon greedy, acquisitive orgy. This is not the vision of enlightened power.
“We, at Omo Eko Pataki, reject this reactionary, covetous, selfish and thoughtless levy. It is needless. It is unnecessary. It is wrong. It is a fatuous anti-people policy that is capable of triggering social unrest that none of us wants to happen.
“We want peace and harmony in our dear state. With large unemployment among our youths, with dwindling economic purchasing power among the working population, adding this avaricious levy is tantamount to incitement of the populace.
“The position of Omo Eko Pataki is unequivocal. The N800 levy is one tax too many. It should be scrapped forthwith.
“Government should focus on other sources of raising its income by going back to the seemly abandoned metro line and the long-proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge which is looking more like a pipe dream than a reality.
“We, however, take cognizance of the two units of ten coaches each recently acquired by the state government. We hope it will achieve the ultimate goal of easing the transportation burden of our people.
“We hope and pray that all the necessary parameters in the acquisition of the ‘Two New Train Sets’ will serve the purpose of meeting the expectations of our people. The experience with the Enron Power generation plant did not meet the minimum standard of service before it disappeared.
“People-oriented project should be the purpose of governance rather than the narrow-minded exploitative policy like the obnoxious and condemnable N800 transportation levy. Our government should be humane and selfless. It should not be seen as purely driven by narrow economic advantages.”
Vanguard News Nigeria