The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has revealed that a high transport cost will define the Nigerian economy as the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic becomes eased across the country.

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The PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, who stated this during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday, explained that air travel will particularly be expensive due to the need to maintain social distancing onboard.

He said, “For the transport sector because the passenger load has been reduced now, as a result, there is a hike in the prices. That is part of the problem that the entire world will be confronted with.

“Because of COVID-19, everything is in turmoil. Flying after COVID-19 will be one of the most expensive ventures because if you are going to maintain social distancing, what happens to the capacity of the aircraft as built in such a way to accommodate about 100 passengers?

“If you maintain social distancing, the capacity might reduce to about 50%. It (the aircraft) will burn the same fuel. It will operate with the same crew. It will consume the same consumables. Who pays for the extra? So, there is going to be turmoil in the economy of the whole world, Nigeria not an exception.

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“I am not urging transporters to hike their prices but it is going to be the reality of the time. And what government will have to do is what it is doing now: creating stimulus for the commerce, manufacturing, agriculture (industries) to soften the effect of this turmoil that is being brought in the management of the economy of our nation.”

The PTF had earlier asked the aviation sector to begin to develop protocols that will lead to the resumption of domestic flights any time from June 21.

PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said, “The aviation industry is requested to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from the 21st of June onwards.

“Airlines must ensure physical distancing by reducing passenger capacity and ensure the provision of sanitisers and personal protective equipment as well as carrying out temperature checks at the point of entry and departure and ensuring that airports are not congested by either travellers or airports staff.”