The Edo state government has said it spent N110 million on diesel in three months on the free transport scheme across the state to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal by the federal government on the people of the state.
In a statement, the Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, urged members of the public to disregard the alleged falsehood peddled by Senator Monday Okpebholo, who represents the people of Edo Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
It stated that the transport scheme benefitted over 1.5 million Edo residents in its first phase.
“The Edo state government has spent N110, 509,230 in the last three months on the free bus scheme, which operates intra-city services from Monday to Saturdays and inter-city services from Monday to Sundays across the State.
“The scheme which commenced on September 11, 2023, for an initial two-month period to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal by the federal government on the people of the state has continued to record success and garner positive feedback, directly benefitting over 1.5 million Edo residents within the first phase of its operation.
“While we acknowledge the steep rise in diesel prices and other operational costs for the scheme, the Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) has continued to explore various avenues to offset this surge.
“This includes skeletal hire services and partnerships with different groups and religious organisations such as Christ Embassy, Church of God Mission, and Winners, among others, which have helped to augment the increase in the cost of diesel and vehicle maintenance without recourse to government,” it stated.
Nehikhare said it was therefore disheartening and ridiculous to read in some sections of the media of “patently false, baseless and misleading comments”.
“For the record, the figures quoted by the senator are imaginary. They are ill-intentioned and have no basis in truth, and should be disregarded by all Edo people.
“We suspect that he may have manufactured the figures based on the fact that the government has saved citizens a total of N1.5 billion monthly that they would have spent on transportation cost were they to pay for the services now rendered for free by the government.
“Had Senator Okpebholo contacted ECTS or the Ministry of Communication and Orientation, he would have had better and more accurate information to share with his audience,” the government said.