The Managing Director of Urban Transport Terminal, Onitsha, Chief Chuka Obiora, has called on Anambra State Government to heed an order of the State High Court, Onitsha, directing its officials and the terminal management to maintain status quo ante bellum.
Chief Obiora made the call on Friday, while briefing newsmen in Awka, on the situation at the terminal.
Documents made available to TNC correspondent showed that the implication of the order given on the 8th of June, 2022, is that the state government should return the terminal to its original managers before the crisis with government started, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit between both parties.
Anambra State Government had in 2018 entered into a partnership with Deltrazi limited, to develop a modern terminal and create a modern motor park at Upper Iweka, so as to curb insecurity and give way for free flow of traffic within and around the Upper Iweka, Obodo-Ukwu road, Owerri road and the environs.
The terminal is also to enable government have a guarantee of capturing all their revenues from transportation activities within that area.
The project which has Urban Transport Terminal Limited as its Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, saw the state government bring thirty percent while the investor, Deltrazi limited brought the remaining seventy percent.
The Terminal Managing Director, Chief Obiora while giving insight on the agreement, said the investor is to source for funds and develop the project while the government is to provide infrastructure for the effective functioning of the park and also enforce use of the park by all vehicles coming to the area.
According to him, while the developer commenced work immediately to develop the terminal, resulting to the formal commissioning by the then Governor Willie Obiano, the state government failed on its part to maintain enforcement nor did they provide the infrastructure.
He disclosed that the company wrote severally to the government, intimating them of their failure to meet their obligation but all the correspondence went unreplied.
“Surprisingly, one Sunday, 31st of January 2021, officials of the state government invaded the terminal with security agents, started shooting sporadically, chased away everyone at the park and took over the park.
“Till this moment, they have been operating it. They have sold all our properties, took possession and are running our business in an environment that the government didn’t invest a dime,” he revealed.
Obiora said they had approached the court over the matter and on the 8th June 2022, Justice Theophine Oguji of the Onitsha High Court gave an order that government should maintain status quo ante bellum.
He also said the state government and its relevant agencies have been duly served the court order, yet, they are still managing the park.
“What worries us is how a government will forcefully take over a park without taking audit of what is there.
“They have vandalized the facilities we put up that gave the terminal a befitting outlook.
“As at today, we have invested over N500 million at the terminal and government has not put down a kobo, yet they are managing the business, raking in profits while the investor is bleeding.
“The financiers of the project are on our neck, with the resultant interests accumulating on the debt and the state government seems unperturbed,” he lamented.
According to the investor, they had decided to play down the maltreatment from government because they do not want to create a bad image for the state, noting that such ill-treatment to a viable investor has very dire consequences for the efforts of government at encouraging people to bring home their wealth.
“We want Governor Chukwuma Soludo, as a financial guru, who understands the consequences of breaching investors’ trust, to as a matter of urgency, direct his agents to obey the court order and allow the original managers of the terminal to operate it, till the determination of the substantive case in court.
“He should review the case and do the needful. Anything on the contrary will spell doom for his efforts at attracting investors to the state,” he noted.
On whether they have been paying revenue to the state government as agreed I the Memorandum of Understanding, Obiora noted that they couldn’t have been paying what they should be paying to the government when the terminal is operating at below 10 percent.
He accused some agents of government of not being happy that if the park is made functional, they wouldn’t be making as much as they were making, claiming damages at the park, to the tune of over N500 million.
Meanwhile, a source within the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, ANSIPPA, who our correspondent spoke with in the course of investigating the issue, said the state government is clear on what it requires of investors and does not breach trust.
The source who insisted that what happened with the Onitsha Urban Terminal project was a change of plans by the developer without formally informing the government, said they are ready to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion.
“You need to understand that this matter is already in court and we will follow through. As a government, we will obey any judgement on the matter.
“But the situation on our hands in this case, is that of a total shift from what we agreed,” the source revealed.