Rivers state particularly, its capital City, Port Harcourt was famous for its peace, tranquility, trees and flowers, hence the name “Garden City”.
The gardens, peace and tranquility began to give way and enter a motley crowd of cult groups. As if that was not enough, a Rivers State Government Road Traffic Agency called TIMARIV entered the fray and compounded insecurity by taking it to a new level of harassment of vehicular road users.
Cult members and Area Boys” who could not “sail”, found anchor as agents of TIMA RIV. With rickety tow vans, they harassed the day light out of road users in the city of Port Harcourt and its environs, making driving on our roads and streets hellish. To boot, were various Task Forces established by Port Harcourt City Local Government Area and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Enter Governor Nyesom Wike on the 29th day of May, 2015. He promptly disbanded and banished TIMA RIV without a drop of tear from road users.
Shortly, thereafter enter the Vehicle Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Transport with field office at Rivers Marine Transport premises at Marine Base, Port Harcourt. Like the infamous TIMA RIV of the past, the Vehicle Inspection Officer of the Vehicle Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Transport has recruited a bunch of cult boys, adorned them with the popular Vehicle Inspection Officers uniform of black trousers, white shirts and black berets.
These “uniformed men” position themselves in strategic locations in the City particularly, in areas of slow moving vehicular traffic or near Police or Federal Road Safety check points.
Their targets are not rickety and unroad worthy commercial taxis and buses without head lamps, wipers, worn out tires and belching soot but fairly used “clean” cars with women at the steering wheels. Their popular refrain is to check for Road Worthiness certificates, which they always brand to be forgeries.
Because most holders of these Road Worthiness certificates know that these certificates are not forgeries, they confidently accompany these “Vehicle Unit Inspection Officers” to their field office at Marine Base, Port Harcourt. Those who are in a hurry pay a bribe and move on.
The field office at Marine Base, Port Harcourt is a world of its own, peopled by various classes of Area Touts, thugs and cultists. Upon arrival, instead of verifying that the Road Worthiness certificates are not forgeries, these “Officers” proceed to deflate the 4 tires of the cars of the hapless victims.
Thereafter, will follow a motley of charges and fines running into thirty or forty thousand Naira, which include, Gate Pass of N500.00, Police Escort of N5,000.00, Towing fee of N10,000.00, impoundment fee of N8,000.00, Parking fee of N2,500 etc.
Negotiations will commence and a lucky victim will escape with paying N20,000.00 which is never receipted. No payment is made into the Rivers State Government Treasury or the Ministry of Transport designated account No. 1010161134 with Zenith Bank Plc.
At the close of the day’s work, the Vehicle Inspection Officer, his deputy one Samson and the Area Boys, touts and cultists divide their ‘kill” and return home.
What is not certain in this unholy enterprise is whether the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and the Honourable Commissioner are part of this unholy enterprise.
What is the genesis of this famed fake Road Worthiness certificate?.
About three years ago, the Vehicle Inspection Unit began to issue new certificates with water marks. Thereafter, instead of destroying the old Road Worthiness certificates, the Vehicle Inspection Unit continued to issue the old certificates without water marks directly or through their agents. This scheme is under the direct watch of one Samson, who is the Deputy at the Vehicle Inspection Unit, Marine Base, Port Harcourt.
Because the so called fake Road Worthiness certificates are from the Vehicle Inspection Unit, no investigation whatsoever is ever carried out as to the source of these so called fake Road Worthiness certificates. No arrest is ever made or a report caused to the Police to unravel these ubiquitous fake Road Worthiness Certificates.
The question is; for how long will the Vehicle Inspection Unit continue to harass innocent road users without any action and consequence from our action Governor.
For how long will the Vehicle Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Transport, daily extort money from innocent road users without any adverse consequence.
If there is any time for Governor Nyesom Wike to act, it is now.
THE PEOPLE ARE WATCHING. TIME SHALL TELL
By James Bpilaka