Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, has admitted that the administration erred over the decision to ban the operations of mini buses (popularly called "Araba") in the city.
The minister, who stated this yesterday, while speaking with journalists after declaring open the sensitisation programme on anti-corruption for officers of the administration on grade level 17, admitted that the administration did not do enough sensitization before the ban.
"We made a mistake and we admit we made a mistake because we did not sensitise people that this kind of thing will be happening. So, we have decided to suspend it for three weeks to ensure everybody understands what we are doing," he explained.
Bala Mohammed said the rationale behind the suspension of ban on mini-bus operators in Abuja was to enable the administration make re-adjustment to reduce the hardship commuters faced during the ban.
The minister however, debunked insinuations that the administration has not procured adequate buses to power the policy, saying the administration has over 700 buses but could not risk bringing them out to the road for fear of vandalisation by aggrieved mini bus operators.
"Drivers of mini buses are not helping matters; we will see how we can provide some succour in the form of higher purchase as a way of sustaining their families.
"We have over 700 hi-capacity buses in the FCT, the Abuja Urban Mass Transit Company (AUMTCO) has about 300, the NURTW has about 200, and other licensed operators have about 200.
"But the mini buses will not allow them to work seriously. You only work on the basis of profitability, you will see the hi-capacity buses burning their gas without any passenger because the mini bus people will not give them any breathing space, moreover they are reckless and indiscipline.
"So we want to get a minimal cavity of monopoly for the hi-capacity buses and routes have been designated for the mini buses and the hi-capacity buses, this will decongest the traffic gridlock being experienced in the city," the minister explained.
"We have many buses but we are scared of bringing them out because of the araba boys who throw stones at them. But now that we have met and discussed with them, we will make arrangements such that the high capacity buses can operate alongside the mini buses as well as taxis that will operate within the city," he explained.
Mohammed further stated that the administration was working out modalities to acquire more buses which can be given out to drivers on hire-purchase basis to ensure that they are able to meet their needs.