By Adelola Amihere
The Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, has disclosed that the Federal Government has approved a N10 billion survival fund for transport workers and operators and currently working out modalities for disbursement.
The Minister made this known when the President, Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), Engr. Isaac Uhunwagho, led the association’s National Executive Committee and Trustees to pay her a courtesy call in Abuja recently.
In a statement signed by Assistant Director, Anastasia Ogbonna, the Minister informed the delegation that the funds which will help cushion the sufferings encountered by road transport workers and operators as a result of COVID-19 pandemic is domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment.
While appreciating the fact 90 percent of Nigerians travel by road, Sen. Saraki stated that the Federal Government will soon initiate a master plan that will reform the sector. She therefore solicited the buy-in of all stakeholders.
Reacting to challenges operators face from state governments and other stakeholders, the Minister gave the assurance that she will discuss the issues through the National Transport Commissioners Forum.
Also, the Minister disclosed that she is in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the concessionning of some routes which she thinks is the best way to go so as to increase government revenue.
She further, enjoined them to avoid duplicity and formalize their structures in an organized manner for better engagements, with the ministry and other relevant agencies.
Earlier, Engr. Uhunwagho stated that the visit was inform the Minister of their challenges and also to appreciate her efforts towards resolving them.
He pleaded for COVID-19 financial palliatives for members to prevent their businesses from folding up.
He explained that transport operators felt the impact of the lockdown the most as their branded buses could not operate due to the ban on interstate travel.
The general motor parks, he said, did not comply with the ban as their parks became a safe haven for flouting the ban and as a result enjoyed black market transportation boom.
He further lamented that despite PTONA members being the major investors in the transportation sector, it is ironical that their companies are the prime target for state and local government authorities who impose taxes, levies and other ridiculous conditions on their members while according to him, they leave the filthy general motor parks and target us.