The Association of Private Transport Companies of Nigeria (APTCON) has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to consider a special stimulus plan for the nation’s transport sector.
Asserting that road transport companies had endured the greatest pain of the nationwide lockdown, spokesman of the association, Mr Audu Gaddo, said that its members had suffered huge revenue losses and faced imminent job cuts in the wake of a month-long lockdown of Nigeria’s transport.
He said the implementation of an additional 14-day interstate lockdown announced by Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, will worsen the situation.
Gaddo, in a statement titled: “Save Nigeria’s Road Transport Sector”, said that government intervention had become necessary because road transport companies, in furtherance of government’s effort at containing the pandemic, will be forced to carry fewer passengers without significant increases in fares in addition to other unavoidable operating costs.
He noted that, as one of the nation’s highest employers of labour, the challenges confronting APTCON were compounded by the fact that members were still obligated to meet their commitments to the government by way of payment of taxes and levies, even in the face of enormous sacrifices already being made.
Gaddo called on the Buhari administration to, among others, urgently consider a regime of tax waivers, access to cheap funds, and special grants to assist the sector return to meaningful operations and overcome the fear of massive layoffs.
He also urged the government to be deliberate and strategic in forging a united response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the organised road transport companies made an integral part of the stakeholder team, and regularly consulted on the way forward.
According to him: “Our industry has come off worse as Nigeria battles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are forced to do less than our regular capacity as part of COVID-19 protocols, making it difficult to generate enough revenue.
“Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians in our employ risk job losses with its attendant implications for societal wellbeing.