The Federal Government has approved a N10bn survival fund for transport workers and operators, the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, has said
She made this known when the President, Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association, Isaac Uhunwagho, led the association’s National Executive Committee and Trustees to pay her a courtesy call in Abuja.
The minister said the funds would help cushion the sufferings encountered by road transport workers and operators as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Anastasia Ogbonna on behalf of the ministry’s director of public relations, Saraki said the fund was domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment.
She said the Federal Ministry of Transportation was currently working on the modalities for its disbursement.
The minister said about 90 per cent of Nigerians travel by road, adding that the government would soon initiate a master plan to reform the sector.
On the challenges operators faced from state governments and other stakeholders, Saraki assured her guests that she would discuss the issues through the National Transport Commissioners Forum.
She further disclosed that she was in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the concession of some routes, which according to her, was the best way to increase government revenue.
On his part, Uhunwagho said their visit was in respect to the challenges faced by the body.
He pleaded for COVID-19 financial palliatives for members of the association in order to prevent the collapse of their businesses.
In another development, the ministry announced that Saraki had been chosen to champion the work-stream on road transport infrastructure and services in readiness for African Continental Free Trade Area single continental market for goods and services in Africa.
The ministry said the disclosure was made when Saraki received the Workstream Subcommittee on African Continental Free Trade Area in her office in Abuja.
At the meeting, the Senior Special Assistant to the President and Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCTA, Francis Anatogu, argued that the situation whereby the continent spends $650bn on importation annually, out of which 85 per cent was from outside of Africa, was no longer acceptable.
Anatogu said for Nigeria to harness the potential of the agreement, it must be part of the African Union’s conversation towards ensuring that policies introduced were in tandem with national laws of the country.
Source: Thursday August 27 Punch