By Oluwatope Lawanson
Lagos – Luxury bus owners have called on government to rehabilitate major highways and beef up security for long distance travelers in the country.
The long distance transport operators made the call during the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the newly floated Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA) on Friday in Lagos.
The Chairman of PTONA, Mr Isaac Uhumwagho, said there was need for synergy between government and operators to end the chaotic traffic situation and restore sanity on the highways.
“Transportation in Nigeria is chaotic, especially around Lagos, but this could end if there is a partnership with us as stakeholders to discuss on how to sanitise the system.
“If government deals with us, we will be able to standardise and give rules and regulations to the drivers who are working for us; the drivers must abide by the rules,” said Uhumwagho, who is also the Chairman, Efex Motors.
He said that the birth of PTONA would ensure that those under its umbrella have a common front to improve long distance transportation business.
“I feel particularly elated that the association has taken off. Many of us have been in the business for up to 50 years now; we are pulling our resources together to form a common front.
“We want to pull our strength together to have one umbrella that will further enhance and promote public transportation business in Nigeria.
“Our desire is to satisfy our customers with this association and also to give us the opportunity for partnerships with all the stakeholders in the business,’’ the chairman said.
Also, PTONA Vice Chairman, Mr Emeka Mamah, urged government to reduce tax and tariff on luxury buses for the benefit of long distance travellers.
“There are many things we want the government to do for us. We want its support like security on our roads and also reduction in the import duties for our buses.
“The import duty on the buses is on the high side. We want government to look into this and possibly reduce the cost of transportation in Nigeria.
“We are looking forward to expanding our horizon to accommodate other forms of transportation such as airways and waterways,’’ Mamah said.
Earlier, Dr Olukayode Bawa-Allah, the keynote Speaker, urged the body to look into diversifying into other areas such as airways and waterways.
Also, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Custom Service, Col. Ahmed Alli (rtd), urged the body to keep an eagle eye on those that would want to use them to transport contraband.
Alli, represented by Deputy Comptroller Samuel Arowojobe, said that the body should ensure an intelligent data gathering on their passengers. (NAN)