The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) has frowned at the exclusion of riverine community people by governments at all levels in the fuel subsidy removal palliative free transport schemes across the country especially in the Niger Delta and South-South geopolitical zone.

The Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface stated this in a statement released in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital while reacting to President Bola Tinubu’s recent broadcast, investment of 100 billion on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses as well as the subsidy removal palliative free bus schemes launched by some governors in some states in the South-South.

Mr. Fyneface said “President Bola Tinubu in his recent broadcast said he has made provision to invest N100 billion between now and March 2024 to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) to ease the impact of subsidy removal on the people. Many state governments in Nigeria especially those in the south-south and Niger Delta are also either provided or considering to provide buses for mass transport schemes to cushion the effort of subsidy removal on the masses but those has thought of those of our people living in the riverine communities who also needed these for ease of transportation”.

Speaking further, Mr. Fyneface described the 17 buses of the Rivers State Government as inadequate for the population of the city and did not also provide free boats for riverine community dwellers to ease the impact of subsidy removal on the people with the same thing also playing out in Bayelsa while Delta State is yet to come to terms with the reality and urgency of the palliative transport support schemes and mulling electric vehicle which is a long term plan when immediate mitigating mechanisms are needed.

Photo Credit: Daily Post

He said “For instance, the Rivers State Government recently launched 17 buses for a population of over 3.4million people in Port Harcourt and its environs. In Bayelsa State, the State government unveiled 106 vehicles for its urban population of about one million people while in Delta State, the government is still thinking of what to do with the governor setting up a committee to consider locally assembled electric vehicles for mass transportation, to mention but a few. In all of these, despite the massive riverine communities in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States among others in Nigeria, neither the Federal nor State governments are considering the inclusion of dwellers of riverine communities in the mass transit schemes despite the fact that water transportation is costlier than land and as fuel (PMS) cost higher in those areas without filling stations than land where filling stations are easily found. In Mr. President’s plans, he left riverine communities out”.

Mr. Fyneface further said at the State level, “In Governor Sim Fubara of Rivers State’s 17 buses, nothing was said to also provide free speed boats for riverine community travelers. The Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri also launched 106 vehicles without a single speed boat for riverine communities while the Delta State Governor is still mulling and dreaming of a long term plan of electric vehicles for a problem that requires an emergency and immediate attention while the council chairmen are pretending that they cannot support water transportation with a few councils also providing buses”.

Mr. Fyneface thus called on the government at all levels not to leave the people in riverine communities behind in the scheme of things around the subsidy removal palliative transport schemes. For the federal government, he called on President Tinubu to include riverine communities in the proposed 100 billion Naira transport scheme with about 30 billion to purchase speed boats and distribute to riverine communities across the country. For the state governments, he called on the Governors across the country including those in the South-South geopolitical zone and the Niger Delta region especially those of Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Edo and Ondo States among others with more riverine communities to provide boats for their riverine communities dwellers to ply the water routes and make at least three return trips daily to cushion the effect of subsidy removal on the people.

For the Council chairmen, the YEAC-Nigeria Director wants them to “also come into this mix as they are capable of purchasing and deploying between 2-10 speed boats to ease transportation issues in riverine communities in their local government areas”.

Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface

Executive Director, YEAC-Nigeria.

August 7, 2023.