By Uche Amunike
As his contribution towards alleviating the suffering of Edo state residents, caused by the petrol subsidy removal by the Bola Tinubu-led government, the Edo State government commissioned its free transport scheme for the residents of the state, yesterday.
This covers all routes operated by the state-owned Edo City Transport Limited (ECTS) as Governor Obaseki gave the approval that they would henceforth operate for free.
The ECTS will span initially for two months and would ply both intra-city and inter-city transportation within the Benin metropolis. It would also cover the major cities in the three senatorial districts of Edo State.
Speaking, during the flag-off ceremony at the ECTS Park at Ring Road, the governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, called on the people of Edo State to make use of the free buses as often as they could, as it was the a measure introduced by the government to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.
His words: ‘The Edo State Government takes the welfare of Edo people seriously and this is just one of the many ways we intend to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal for our people. The scheme has started since morning and people are already enjoying it. We want Edo people to use the bus regularly.’
On her part, the Managing Director of the Edo State Transport Authority, Mrs Edugie Agbonlahor stated that they also have plans to extend the free bus ride to every resident of the state, even though they had been commuting primary and secondary school students for free, in the past. She maintained that it was expedient so as to reduce the hardship being experienced by residents, since the fuel subsidy was removed.
Hear her: ‘We know that before now transportation has always consumed 50 per cent of budgets of parents. So, the gesture is to help so that they can channel this money to some of their other needs such as feeding, housing, especially this time in particular, when our children are resuming and we know the burden on parents during the first term.’
‘So, this is His Excellency’s intervention that at this time, parents can have a refund of their transport cost to enable them take other responsibilities. We are aware that ECTS has always given free ride to school children, but it’s no longer for school children but for all Edo people.’
One of the beneficiaries of the free transport scheme, Mrs Osarubo Obayuwana, expressed her joy at the new scheme. According to her, she used to spend an average of N800 daily on transportation, because she lives at Oko Central and has to go to work everyday. She was excited about the relief she would get from the new free scheme and thanked the Edo State government for coming to the aid of residents at this time that the country is facing the frustrating effects of the fuel subsidy removal.
She stated: ‘I am happy seeing the new arrangements by the Edo State Government, I want to beg the government to sustain the scheme because people are really suffering.’
The scheme will cover the following routes: Auchi – Igalrra – Ibillo–Ososo; Uzebba–Ikhin – Otuo, and Abudu-Ubiaja, Abudu-Urhonigbe and Ewohirin to Ewatto.