The Delta State government has commenced the enforcement of the Passengers’ Welfare Scheme Law which was enacted since 2002 for the purpose of ensuring the safety and welfare of passengers in the course of their journeys.
It would be recalled that on June 13, 2016, the State government, through a public statement, approved the commencement of the provisions of the Delta State Passengers’ Welfare Scheme Law No. 6 of 2002 with effect from Wednesday June 29, 2016.
According to the government statement, passengers on intra and inter-state journeys from any part of the State, are expected to pay the sum of N50 (fifty naira) and N100 (one hundred naira) respectively, which shall be used by the Government-appointed Consultant to pay the approved benefit of any road accident victim.
Although the welfare scheme commenced in June, 2016, The New Diplomat learnt that most motor parks in the State, especially the public motor parks, have failed to enforce it. It was in the light of this development that the State government recently put in place a Mobile Court to work with the government-appointed Consultant to enforce the Law.
The New Diplomat crew that visited one of the Mobile Courts in session along the East-West road at Okuokoko, a suburb of Warri, recently, the Consultant, Engr. Egogo Lawrence told our correspondent that they have discovered that most private parks in the area are actually complying with the provisions of the law by manifesting their passengers before leaving their parks to any destination.
He however lamented that public motor parks in the State are not complying with the provision of the law and are not manifesting their passengers, adding that they are deliberately breaching the Passengers’ Welfare Scheme Law in the State.
Egogo stated that the purpose of the Mobile Court which was in session at the time of The New Diplomat’s visit was to prosecute defaulting transporters who have no manifest of their passengers before embarking on their journeys.
He said: “We started the enforcement of the Passengers Welfare Scheme this morning to see how commuters and transport companies are complying with the Scheme. We just observed that most of the transporters who possess passengers’ manifest are from other states. It shows that other states are complying with similar schemes in their respective states. We also observed that it is only private park transporters within the state that are so far complying by manifesting their passengers.
“But majority of transporters from public parks hardly manifest their passengers. They don’t even have manifest. It is obvious that in other states, they obey the law. But right in here, they don’t obey the law. Probably, they just feel there is no such law in the State.
“We are using this platform to encourage all transporters to manifest their passengers. It is for our good. The Passengers’ Welfare Scheme is for the benefit of Deltans and those who are resident in Delta State.
“This morning we have observed good compliance from private parks, except the public parks. So, the challenge we are having here is from the public parks. Deliberately, they don’t want to comply to manifest their passengers even when some of the passengers express awareness of the scheme in other parts of the country.
“So, the transporters, especially those from public parks, seem to be working against the scheme. It is not that the passengers do not want to comply. So, if the transporters inform them in the park they will comply.”
Also speaking with The New Diplomat, the State Prosecutor at the Mobile Court, Mr. Peter Daubri, said that the Mobile Court was put in place for the enforcement of the Passengers’ Welfare Scheme, adding that it was meant to prosecute the violators of the scheme.
According to him, the organized private parks are complying with the scheme since it started in August, adding that it is the public parks that are not complying with the scheme.
Daubri explained that the law empowering the scheme was enacted by the House of Assembly in 2002, pointing out that it is the present government that actually commenced the enforcement because of the benefits it has for transporters.
“The Mobile court was put in place for the enforcement of the Passengers’ Welfare Scheme. It is meant to prosecute the violators of the scheme. So far, the organized transport companies are complying with the scheme. It is the unorganized public parks that are giving us some kind of tough time.
“Actually, the scheme is a laudable one. This particular law is not new in the state. It was enacted in 2002 by the Delta State House of Assembly. Now the government has come up to ensure that the provisions of the law are enforced.
“What the law states is not too much. It states that any commercial vehicle moving out of Delta State should, first and foremost, have a manifest. It also provides that a copy of the manifest is to be submitted to the Ministry of Transport which is represented by a Consultant. As you about moving out of the park, the transporter is expected to submit the manifest to the Consultant. The law also provides that the transporter is expected to collect the prescribed Passengers’ Welfare Fees.
“The Scheme has some benefits. For every responsibility, there is a corresponding right or benefit. The passenger who pays the money will have a corresponding benefit. The benefit is that while traveling on a particular journey and you have been ticketed by the transporter, in the event of an accident where a permanent injury results, the victim can be compensated with a particular amount of money.
“We Nigerians sometimes feel the government put up this scheme just to extort money from passengers. But the law is there. It is a public document. It is called the Passengers’ Welfare Scheme Law of Delta State. You look at the provisions of the law and you will find out what your responsibilities are and your corresponding rights to such responsibility. And if you have your ticket, in the event of any accident and you are not attended to, you can go to court to enforce your right to get your benefit.
“We encourage Deltans to comply with the law and in complying with the law, ensure that you get your ticket and keep it in the course of the journey and in case of any eventuality you can enforce your right to get compensated.”