The federal government says it is currently working on the modalities for the disbursement of the approved N10 billion survival fund for transport workers and operators in the country.
The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, disclosed this when the President, Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), Mr. Isaac Uhunwagho, led the association’s National Executive Committee and Trustees to pay her a courtesy call in Abuja.
Saraki, in a statement signed by the Director of Press of the ministry, Eric Ejiekwe, informed the delegation that the funds which is domiciled with Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, is to help cushion the suffering matted on road transport workers and operators as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister noted that the government would soon initiate a master plan that will reform the transport sector, and solicited the support of all stakeholders, for the benefit of 90 per cent of Nigerians who travel by road.
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 as a way of addressing the challenges.
The minister also disclosed that she is in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the concessioning of some routes which she thinks is the best way to go so as to increase government revenue.
She enjoined the association to avoid duplication and formalise their structure in an organised manner for better engagements with the ministry and other relevant agencies.
Responding, the National President, PTONA, Mr. Uhunwagho, stated that their visit was in respect of challenges confronting the body and also to appreciate the minister’s efforts towards alleviating the challenges PTONA has being facing with since February 2020.
Appreciating the cooperation and protection which the ministry is now ready to provide for public transportation in Nigeria, the PTONA boss pleaded for COVID-19 financial palliatives for its members to prevent their businesses from folding up.
The president noted that members felt the impact of the lockdown the most as their branded buses could not operate due to the ban on interstate travel.
He also said the general motor park did not comply with the ban on interstate movement during the lockdown , as their parks 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.
These challenges, among others, were what the resident said necessitated the visit on the minister and hoped their pleas would be looked into.
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