As the resumption of school for the 2023/ 2024 academic session draws closer, the Niger State Government is planning to introduce a school bus scheme for pupils and students to ease the burden of transport fares on parents.
The state commissioner for transport, Hajiya Hadiza Idris Kuta, disclosed this while interacting with some journalists in her office on Tuesday.
She said the state governor, Hon. Umaru Mohammed Bago, has an interest in the transport sector of the state and is willing to reposition the sector in line with his urban renewal policy.
The Commissioner added that the school bus scheme would be part of the free education programme of Governor Umaru Bago, which she said will commence soon.
She noted that transportation is one of the basic necessities of man for his movement and that of his goods from one place to another, saying the state government has made plans to flood the state with vehicles in order to provide affordable and accessible transportation to the people of the state.
The Commissioner disclosed that aside from the state government's arrangement to get new CNG vehicles for the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA), the federal government's fuel subsidy removal palliatives also include vehicles in order to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal in the transport aspect.
"We want to get enough vehicles because we want to resume our transport services to all the 25 local government areas and also strengthen our interstate bus services," said the Commissioner.
She equally disclosed that the state government was making arrangements with some airline operators to start commercial services in Minna, expressing optimism that the plan would see the light of day.
On the ban on Okada operations within Minna and its environs, the Commissioner said it was a law that was still in place but that they were handicapped to fully enforce it because of the transportation problem brought about by the subsidy removal.
While also speaking on the criminal activities of some Keke operators, she advised the public to be vigilant while boarding, saying there are codes on the back of each registered Keke-NAPEP and that passengers should take note of that.
She added that they were aware of some Keke-Napep operators erasing the codes, warning the public not to board such a Keke for their own safety.
The Commissioner also disclosed that the state transport ministry has a lot in stock for the people of Niger State, as the present administration is willing to revamp the sector and resuscitate all its various means of transportation, including rail and water transport services.
She added that to achieve what the ministry had set out to do, the management will sit with the heads of agencies under the ministry and various transport unions in the state in order to be on the same page.
Niger State Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Bar. Maurice Magaji, has said that as part of the present administration's drive to hasten its urban renewal programme, any plot of land allocated over a period of two years that is yet to be developed within the urban centres of Minna, Suleja, Bida, Kontagora, and New Bussa has three weeks to justify why they should not forfeit the land.
Speaking during an interface with the staff of the ministry yesterday in Minna, Bar. Magaji said that the ministry, in tandem with the policy thrust of the new administration, will open up new areas in urban areas for sites and services.
He said the ministry will not condone any illegal change of use of land without the explicit approval of relevant departments after payment of the necessary fees.
"Penalty, which would include the closure of business premises and complete denial of the change of use, will be applied", he emphasised.
He said the governor explicitly directed that each local government make available 10,000 hectares of land for agricultural cultivation.
The commissioner tasked the staff of the ministry to work hard to raise the revenue profile of the ministry to match the expectations of the present administration, explaining that the state governor, Mohammed Umaru Bago, was looking up to the ministry to contribute a substantial amount of revenue to the state coffers.
He said with proper incentives and political will, the ministry will generate the needed funds for developmental purposes in the state.
According to him, "to this end, we will give emphasis to ground rent collection. This would be done through all means possible to get compliance with the condition on the C of O issued. We would set up an enforcement wing to follow defaulters".
He said the ministry will vigorously pursue the Telecom Mast annual Temporary Right of Occupancy fees and mining fees from licenced miners and also work closely with private property developers to collect the layout approval fees.
The commissioner said that although revenue would be the goal, the new leadership would not shy away from its other regulatory functions.
The commissioner urged all staff and partners of the ministry to work towards achieving these goals, revealing that the governor has promised handsome rewards for ministries and agencies that perform exceedingly well.
He said on his part that he will ensure incentives in terms of allowances, conducive working environments, office equipment, logistics, and money realised as a percentage of generating revenues get to everyone.