The Federal Government has approved the sum of N10 billion as survival funds for transport workers and operators in the country.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, who received a delegation of the National Executive Committee and Trustees of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA).
According to a statement on Wednesday, the minister informed the delegation led by their President, Isaac Uhunwagho, that the funds would help cushion the sufferings encountered by road transport workers and operators as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She explained that the money was domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Investment, adding that the Ministry of Transportation was already working on the modalities for its disbursement.
While noting that 90 percent of Nigerians travel by road, Saraki stated that the government would soon initiate a master plan that would reform the sector and solicited the buy-in of all stakeholders.
A file photo of commercial buses in Lagos.
On the challenges operators face from state governments and other stakeholders, she gave the assurance that she would discuss the issues through the National Transport Commissioners’ Forum.
The minister also disclosed that she was in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the concessions of some routes aimed at increasing government revenue.
She, therefore, urged members of the association to avoid duplicity and formalize their structures in an organized manner for better engagements with the ministry and other relevant agencies.
In his response, Uhunwagho said their visit was in respect of the challenges faced by the body and sought COVID-19 financial palliatives for members to prevent their businesses from folding up.
He lamented that PTONA members felt the impact of the lockdown the most as their branded buses could not operate due to the ban on interstate travel.
The PTONA president decried that general motor parks did not comply with the ban and as a result, they enjoyed the black market transportation boom.
He added that despite PTONA members being the major investors in the transportation sector, their businesses were the prime target for state and local government authorities who impose taxes, levies, and other ridiculous conditions.