By Wisdom Acka
Members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and traders have lambasted officials of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) for allegedly collecting bribes, to sabotage effort of the FCT Minister, Malam Mohammad Musa Bello to move them into the new park and free traffic around Zuba interchange.
In particular, NURTW Chairman, Zuba New Terminal, Mr. Saidu Abdullahi accused a top AEPB official of collecting bribes, thereby allowing some to trade, load and discharge in areas they were warned not to operate in, resulting to frustrating the efforts of the FCT Minister to restore sanity to Zuba axis.
Abdullahi while speaking to journalists, and n the presence the AEPB Director, , Baba Shehu Lawal, Abdullahi during traffic decongestion exercise by the FCT Administration Task Team on Traffic Management in Zuba, early hours of yesterday.
The NURTW boss vowed that he could go to any length to expose the corrupt AEPB officials, who were sabotaging the well-intended exercise by the current FCT Administration.
“The problem is that the traders are under us, they divided into two, the other group gathered money, over N300, 000 and gave it to AEPB in Area 3 enforcement office and Dei Dei office.
“So those who contributed the money have refused to move into the new terminal provided by the Minister.
Similarly, Zuba Terminal Manager, Useni Usman who corroborated the bribery allegations, adds: “We receive the news of relocating to a new terminal with topmost joy, because it will ease traffic gridlock in Zuba axis.
“We cleared the new terminal , barricaded it and even put CCTV cameras and made it food for traders and transporters to move in, but some of the traders refused to comply.
“When we asked why they were not willing to mive in with, we learnt that some of them contributed money to give AEPB oficials in Area 3 office.
“They were even bragging that, nobody will demolish the place; that it is the new terminal that government is going to demolish.”
Responding, Baba Shehu Lawal said the job of the AEPB was to remove all nuinsances, including street trading on rosd corridors, that would constitute hindrance to free flow of traffic everywhre Abuja.
Lawal explains: “ Our staff in AEPB cannot be part of illegality, when you are to bring sanity to the city, you cannot be part of the people bringing problem to the city management.
“This is completely new to me. It is also very wrong for them to gather money and give a particular officers or office.
“I therefore urge the traders to follow up with the officers they gave money to and collect their money back.”
Chairman, FCTA Task Team on Traffic Management, Comrade Ikharo Attah, who led the Team said the bribery allegations againts those who should be at the forefront of the decongestion drive were “quite shocking, disappointing and it is something we are not happy about, especially at a time when you have a Minister, who so trust us and believes that we should go and deliver, but here we are hearing these allegations.
“It is very disheartening we gathered that some monies have gone into the hands of some officials. And though these are still allegations, but for the fact that you can hear unity of voices speaking against it really demoralises some of us we believe that the Minister has worked so hard to put Abuja on the path that it should be among world class to cities.
“It is not the first time we are hearing about this, we hear about it as rumour, but this is the first time we are so touched to be publicly confronted about it. This is the first time, they are saying it point-blank and face to face with government officials.”
On whether the culprits would be penalised, Ikharo said: “They are FCTA staff; I think the Minister will take his own decision, indoor not want to preempt him. He has the Human Resource Development -those who have the discipline unit, and I am sure they will be looking at all these allegations put together. It very weighty.
“The FCT Minister is a man everybody believes in living within his means and act on the platform of integrity rather than go crazy with wealth which cannot be taken out of world.”
The Chairman stated that the exercise was a very successful, as that the terminal was already functional, the road is cleared, and the transporters have got their own taskforce to continue enforcement.