Recently, one of The Nation’s finest columnists, Steve Osuji, he of the column ‘Expresso’, advised with an intelligent mind on the recent shutting down of Edo Line, neatly punning Harper Lee’s most significant feat of penmanship and concluding that Governor Obaseki took a wrong turn in retiring the transport company.
While his opinion ranks highly among constructive criticisms the Obaseki-led administration has received, and serves as a breath of fresh air from the utterly gobsmacking postulations of the People’s Democratic Party – Chief Dan Orbih’s lot, – which fly in the face of good governance, Osuji must understand the full extent of decay, which forced the government to such measures.
For Edo line, there were no more great expectations prior to the governor’s declaration that it would be shut down. Former governor Adams Oshiomhole had initially tried the solution Osuji recently suggested. The background to it was that by 2010 Edo Line had come to such a sorry state in its affairs that it was quite run aground under the traumatic leadership of PDP in Edo State.
Oshiomhole then commissioned Chief Osamede Adun, the Ayobahan of Benin, fondly called Bob Izua by those who know him, to resuscitate the company. The Ayobahan was no neophyte to the trade, having had notable success with his own transport company, Bob Izua motors.
The transport company was slowly roused for some months before it collapsed horridly again and has since been in that state of hibernation while it accrued such a terrible debt profile as to affright any governor.
Mr Osuji should understand that if a method worked in one state, it does not mean it will work in another state and so Governor Obaseki took the road less traversed, having already taken the road more used earlier. This is why we must listen closely to the following words by Governor Obaseki at the shutting down of Edo Line, where he addressed the workers, and they revealed that they had been paid regularly for nigh on 3 years of doing nothing.
“You can see the waste we have here? Vehicles broken down. Every time government puts money, after a few months, we do not see the money anymore. So, we are not going to continue with Edo Line this way. We have to restructure it and pay off all the debts. You know how much debt we owe? Almost N1.5bn! Without paying off that debt, this company cannot take off. So, none of you will lose your jobs. We will see how we can pay off this debt and use this place for other things”.
The message was clear. The government had tried to concede Edo Line to Bob Izua motors before, but it had not been much of a success. The company is now in such an astounding state of indebtedness and disrepair that no one – not even God is Good Motors – will touch it with a long pole.
The motors are bad, all the staff facilities no longer work, and it will take nothing short of a complete overhaul to get it up and running again. The country’s economy, as it is widely known, does not encourage prioritisation in settling debts. Everyone is looking for how to earn more from what is already in the inventory, and do away with the deadwood.
Before deciding to shut the transport line, Osuji and the people of Edo State should be rest assured that the government had examined its state closely. The workers, meanwhile, will be absorbed into the Ministry of Transportation where they will be retrained and put to productive use again. The government abhors waste and promised to provide jobs, not put people out of jobs. There is no viability in Edo Line. There is only liability. The question now should be “how do you settle a N1.5bn debt?”