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By: Paul Ogar & Kalu Peace.

The Cross River State Commissioner for Transportation, Pastor Ekpenyong Ene Cobham briefed Journalists in his Office and brought to bay what transpired on Thursday as a display of ignorance and impunity orchestrated by the nest of evil.


Pastor Cobham said on resumption he met a mirage of challenges but that he wasn’t deterred as he set the ball rolling to achieve the target of His Excellency to put back on track the Ministry of Transformation to bring succour to Cross Riverians and residents alike.


He said the Thursday demonstration of the mini-bus operators was something anticipated because a departure from the old order of impunity, corruption, and efficiency was certainly going to fight back a new order of normalcy and direction for a purposeful driven Ministry committed to driving Governor Otu’s “People First Agenda.”


I want to assure Cross Riverians and residents that we are committed to doing the right thing and will not succumb to blackmail and intimidation.


“When l assumed office I met several

challenges enough to demoralise any

person. Among the myriad of challenges

was the paucity of funds. On the road, it

was a culture of impunity where traffic

rules were not obeyed and people packed wherever roads were congested. We had to call the leadership of the Unified Drivers Association for several meetings. We interfaced on the way forward.


“In those interfaces, we had with the drivers Associations, I made it clear to them that it can’t be business as usual. We need to partner to be able to reach out to the drivers. l even suggested to them that there’s a need for reorientation. I remember saying that we need to have a meeting with the operators of driving schools because I

have discovered that there’s a problem of

attitude among the drivers, habitual

decadence, alcoholic abuse, drug abuse

and all of such vices.


“However, we agreed that the year was

coming to an end and carnival was by the

corner and with all the limitations we had, we needed to do something. We worked out a short-term, medium, and long-term programme. I limited my short-term programme to the decongestion of the roads. I had to look at my resource base. I would have relied on one of the Agencies under me, which is the Traffic Management and Regulatory Agency (TRAMRA), but I discovered frustratingly that the marshals there were a part of the problem. They encourage drivers to park anywhere and pick up passengers. I have had two interfaces with them and I address them.


“We created two taskforce teams. One was Team Alpha for Calabar South and the other was Team Eagle for Municipality, purely to decongest traffic and stop incessant wrong parking. I briefed them on the terms of reference and guided them. Because of their operation, I was always on the field. We discovered that there were several challenges on the field.


“There are persons whom I may like to

refer to as part of the relics of the old

order, who were at one time or the other

part of the past administration or who are habitual touts, and have constituted

themselves into an illegal task force. For

instance, this morning before I came to

work somebody came to my house and said that some people accosted him yesterday evening at Unical main gate. collected his vehicle, looted his pockets, and took his vehicle and we have tried to locate that vehicle using the police and we have several such cases.


“l have an interface with the state security

adviser. We are trying to work out ways to begin to arrest them. These people have caused so much damage, giving

the government a bad name. In one week of the operation of my task force, we had the following results: free traffic flow at the Watt market roundabout axis. Free traffic flow along Marian market. But in the cause of contravening the vehicle that committed one traffic offense or the other, I discovered that there’s a nest of evil, and this nest of evil constitutes security agents and politically exposed persons.


“What they do is that they gather 10, 6, 20 buses or taxis as they can and tell you, “I will be covering you. If you have any problem you call me, but you will be paying me between N1,500 and N2,000 weekly. So whenever such vehicles have any challenge you will see them come out to release the vehicles.


“We need to restore sanity to the roads and the culture of impunity we have to put it away. And you know that’s not an easy feat.


“In the course of that, I stepped up to the

third programme which was the

dislodgement of illegal loading bays on the major roads. There were illegal loading bays that existed by the NEPA office, another one at 11-11. There were two opposite the Stadium and another one by Fidelity Bank. I’ve shut all of them down.


“These loading bays were supported, operated, and protected by politically exposed persons, cult-associated personalities and that didn’t sit

well with them. When you are trying to

bring change, impunity must fight back, and that’s what happened on Thursday,” said the Commissioner.

Amawu Cletus Albert Amawu

I'm a Journalist, Host/Producer of The Verdict, your voice of conscience on FAD FM 93.1, Calabar, Public Affairs Commentator, Social Change Agent.

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