The House of Representatives Ad hoc committee investigating the poor management of the Federal Mass Transit Scheme in the country from 1999 till date, has lamented the over N16bn expended on the scheme which was intended to solve transportation challenges in the country.
Chairman of the committee, Afam Ogene, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, promised the readiness of the panel to unearth how funds earmarked for the scheme were used without proportionate results since 1999.
This is just as the lawmaker expressed dismay at the seeming refusal of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to release documents relating to public funds expended on past mass transit schemes.
“This becomes important, especially at this period of grueling multifaceted economic challenges that have heightened the sufferings of the people and lowered the living conditions of many,” he said.
Ogene, who represents Ogbaru Federal Constituency in Anambra state and doubles as the Labour Party caucus leader in the House, noted that in 2012 alone, over N16 billion was released through The Infrastructure Bank for the purchase of buses for public mass transit, from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme funds during the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration, from the Public Mass Transit Revolving Fund.
“A total of 1,179 vehicles were released to the beneficiaries under the scheme, with a repayment plan covering four years. But according to TIB, many of the beneficiaries defaulted and didn’t repay the loans.
“For instance, records show that as of December 2015, only two of the beneficiaries, ABC Transport PLC and The Young Shall Grow Transport Limited, liquidated their loans. Most of the beneficiaries are yet to pay as stipulated in the contractual agreements signed between them and TIB.
“Perhaps because they see the funds as usual government bonanza but this is where they get it wrong because they can’t be living large with our collective scarce resources while the people suffer as a result of poor mass transportation. The committee shall make the defaulters account for every government money they have misapplied,” he said.
Ogene further added that on October 4th, 2016, the then Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah announced that the Federal Government had also set up a N25 billion revolving loan scheme to enable transport companies in the country to procure mass transit vehicles.
The committee’s brief encompasses road transport, waterways and rail transportation sectors in the country.