Enugu Modern Transport Interchange: A Great Win

Mike Ebuka

It is said that a city’s transportation network is its cardiovascular system, a multifaceted structure that enables the continuous flow of people and goods through its arteries. Municipal authorities, city councils, urban planners, and transport-infrastructure owners and operators around the world are well aware that its quality and efficiency are crucial for the economy and for the wellbeing of citizens and visitors.

Unfortunately for decades now, the Holy Ghost axis of Enugu metropolis has been a mess, a place where all manner of both legitimate and illegitimate activities thrive. It is inappropriate and unfit that a state like Enugu, which prides itself as the capital of the old Eastern Region and the present South East will have such an unkept place at the heartbeat of the city and worse still , as its transportation hub. 41 percent of the traffic that come into Enugu State end up at this notorious transportation hub.

It is no longer news that miscreants found some parts of the axis as their haven where they operated and ran into hiding without a trace. During the inspection of some of the facilities in the area last year by some government officials, some human remains and mountainous heaps of human feces, among other eyesores were seen along the railway lines, a few meters off former Onitsha South Motor Park. The gory look corroborated the views of some traders, artisans and other road users, who often complain that miscreants who engaged in pickpockets, broad daylight robbery, and other criminal activities ran towards the dangerous axis where some of their partners in crime would unleash the dragon and at times kill anyone, who dared to chase them up to that point.

Sometime in 2023, a voice note of one of the lucky victims, which trended on the social media, revealed the dungeon and threat to security that the Holy Ghost motor park and environ had become.

Even more worrisome and stressful was the traffic gridlock from OSISATEC to Holy Ghost roundabout or Chris Chemist. It is an experience no visitor, motorist or commuter would willingly want to repeat, as it took hours for one to navigate that short distance due to reckless parking, reckless driving by bus drivers, and indiscriminate loading of vehicles by touts and bus conductors. Petty traders, artisans and hawkers, who encroached the roads and crowd the entire area made matters worse.

It is for these reasons and more that Enugu residents and users of the stretch of Market Road have heaved a sigh of relief since the Governor Peter Mbah Administration began the demolition of those areas with a view to building the Enugu Central Station, one of the first four Modern Transport Interchanges to be conducted by the administration in the next 12 months. Others are the Abakpa Central Station, Gariki Central Station, and Nsukka Central Station.

Before the demolitions around the Holy Ghost areas, Enugu residents and visitors had cried out to successive administrations before Governor Mbah to do what he is doing today, but to no avail. Both the political will and huge ideas on how to transform the place to something as modern as what we see in Europe, America, and Asia were lacking. But today, a Daniel has come to judgment.

One of the fears was the political backlash and possible protests that could be instigated and even sponsored by the big business owners in the area, using the touts, barrow pushers, petty traders, hawkers, and of course the many shades of criminals that had turned the area to their den. But Mbah, as he would say, set forth at dawn on this matter.

Whereas major developments anywhere in the world displace people and businesses, and are likely to elicit some level of resistance and bad feelings, a true leader takes a people to not only where they want to go, but where they ought to be. It is also about how a leader is able to communicate with the people and paint the future for them to see.

In the case of Holy Ghost, for instance, apart from a notice served those affected way back in October 2023, all the stakeholders in the transport system and other business owners at Holy Ghost were all invited to a meeting by the Enugu State government in  September/October 2023. At the meeting with the governor, the intention of the state to build a modern transport interchange was made known and they all lauded the governor for his visionary mindset. There were also subsequent town hall meetings and individual engagements with major stakeholders.

Among others, the state ensured that they are not displaced by giving them a temporary location near New Market while assuring them in writing a right of first refusal, once the project was completed and ready for use.

Again, working through the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), which is the landlord or lessor of the property and business owners there and based on their agreement with tenants, the properties were evaluated and compensations were worked out, which was then paid to the affected persons and businesses by Mbah. Some affected persons received hundreds of millions of Naira each.

The Managing Director of A.C Decanal Company Limited, Dr. Mrs Ngozi Ezinne Nnamani, had on Tuesday, 7th May, 2024, confirmed to newsmen that compensations were already being paid and called on other property and business owners affected by the development effort to see the new Enugu State coming and support the government in its effort to transform the state. She maintained that their fears and doubts about the project had been allayed through the compensation, provision for the relocation of their businesses, and the right of first refusal given to them by the government.

However, no matter how good the intentions of a leader may appear, some people will still want to resist change.

That is why, some people after receiving the money, remained adamant, wanting their personal interests to override the general interest of the masses of Enugu State.

In his book ‘’The Prince’’, Niccolo Machiavelli writes, “…no one really believes in change until they’ve had solid experience of it” and because of this, leaders “bringing in changes will have to deal with huge obstacles and must overcome them with his own abilities”. This means  that a leader will need to have the vision, translate it well and combine it with the powers of persuasion to get people into believing his meaning of change.

Meanwhile , the advice to such few individuals is to see beyond the demolition to appreciate the transforming and long-lasting changes the development brings.

The benefit of the proposed terminals to be built in the state cannot be overemphasized as they serve as a central and intermediate locations for the mobility of passengers and freight, and often require specific facilities and equipment to accommodate the traffic they handle. They play a very crucial role in improving the overall transportation system by reducing traffic congestion and promoting sustainable mobility . Additionally, modern bus terminals provide facilities and services such as ticketing, waiting areas, and information displays, enhancing the overall passenger experience.

Because passengers and foreigners have different expectations on the  kind of services rendered, there is need for the government of the day to create new policies and breakthroughs in order to increase passengers interest and ensure satisfaction in mass transportation facilities, therefore, creating more enabling environment for investors to come into the state.  With this initiative of overhauling the state’s transport system, the government will deploy the data-driven smart-transport system that will go a long way to enable the state monitor and analyze information on people’s commuting patterns and traffic violations to inform decision-making. The government by so doing will also use new toll-management technology to decrease vehicle traffic and improve road safety, thereby reducing the fatality rate in Enugu roads.

Governor Peter Mbah’s vision to build Enugu Central Station which is made up of dual terminals, namely Terminal 1, which will focus on inter-state transportation and Terminal 2, which will cater for intra-city transportation, will not only give the state a face-lift, create employment opportunities, decongest our roads, reduce criminal activities in our motor parks, but will equally ensure the convenience of our commuters and maintain easy interchange in our transport system.

Ebuka, writes from Uzo-Uwani

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