Abuja – A National Assembly member, Sen. Ben Bruce, has urged the Federal Government to come up with a mass transportation policy that would cushion the effect of new price of petrol.
Bruce made the call while interacting with newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that concern being expressed and the agitation generated by the new price of fuel was due to lack of a transportation policy.
According to him, nationals of other countries do not know the cost of petrol in their countries because the cost of transportation does not change when petrol price increases.
Bruce said that what bothered people was the cost of transportation “as there is a good and organised system of mass transportation where individuals do not have to bear the direct cost of transportation’’.
“The problem here is, the government is selling the wrong argument; the argument is not the price of petrol, the argument should be the cost of transportation.
“So, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Petroleum Resources should sit in a room and come up with a mass transit policy.
“They should draft a policy like they have in other parts of the world with a regulatory authority.
“In other words, if a bus owner generates N10,000 a week and you deregulate and you increase the price, the Federal Government says I will give the bus owner N5,000.
“I have done the calculations across the country and it will cost the government for every single city in Nigeria less than N100 billion, which is far less than the N1.2 trillion Nigeria spent subsidising petrol.
“The solution to this problem is simple; it is clear that successive governments did not stop to think and find a solution to this problem,” he said.
He said that the hardship which Nigerians were going to face due to the new price of petrol was because a lot of emphasis was placed on the price of petrol.
The lawmaker said that the resultant increase in the cost of running vehicles should be marginal and as such prices should also go up marginally and not at 100 per cent.
“Everybody in Nigeria knows the price of fuel but if you go to London or you visit London, nobody knows the price of petrol in London.
“Nobody knows the price of petrol in South Africa, and nobody knows the price of petrol in Sweden.
“What you know is the price of transportation that is all that matters.
“ If the government has a mass transit policy and all of us here go by bus and it cost you N200 to go to work and you deregulate and it still cost you N200 to go to work nobody will protest.
“If it cost you N500 to catch a taxi before deregulation and after deregulation it cost you N500 nobody will complain,” he said.
He said that he did not expect prices of food to go up because government had withdrawn subsidy from diesel, which most of the trucks conveying food relied on.
“So, you have deregulated diesel and so you have a regulatory authority that controls what a truck driver should charge.
“All your trucks bringing in the food stuffs use diesel, therefore, if they deregulate cost of food stuff in Nigeria it should not rise because you already paid N165 a litre for diesel,” he said.
The senator also called on the Federal Government to dialogue with the new militants in the Niger Delta region. (NAN)