Editorial

Liberalize the transport sector still

The imminent replacement of keke NAPEP with government-owned cars will transform dangerously the public transportation sector into an un-viable government monopoly in Imo state. It is interference in a free economy that is unwarranted. In so doing the private sector’s needed massive investment and participation in that aspect of the economy will be distorted or at least restricted. Imo people do not buy that idea at all. What is needed is liberalization of the sector. Government has never run anything well.
The likely reason which government has not made manifest is that keke riders and their vehicles are an eye-saw on the city’s ‘nice’ streets; Kekes do no reflect the wealth and affluence of Imo state which the government apparently wants to show case from now on; Imo state is presumably too big to use tri-cycles for public transportation. What an argument!
Government may be thinking that tri-cycles destroy the aesthetic value of the city. In other words once keke is banned Owerri will look good. This sort of reasoning is not only invalid but flawed . What about modern cities in the world going back to bicycles and animal traction, to save energy costs and cut down on carbon emission? In those places public transport is totally in the hands of the private sector as well.
But the use of keke here is a practical way of reducing poverty and un-employment. It is economical for the members of the public in all respects. All these gains will be lost on the masses when keke is gone in the next few days.
The removal of keke also means the demobilization of considerable private investment which will be thrown into the gutter. It is a measure that will leave lots of people stranded in life. It will increase citizens’ predisposition to crime in order to make ends meet. This is the most dangerous aspect of it.
With the governor unwilling to go back on this decision, the State House of Assembly must come in and halt what seems a horrific measure which will take the economy unwittingly to the doldrums. That is why we have the House as a check on the Executive when it misuses power. An economic whirlwind is sweeping Imo state. The House must play its full part in putting a check to this.
In all that, we must seize this opportunity to look holistically into our entire chaotic public transport sector to plan the routes, charges, timing and all else.

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