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PTONA members lament N200bn loss on COVID-19 

Members of interstate road transport operators under the aegis of Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association, PTONA, are lamenting the huge loss of an estimated N200 billion following the ban on interstate commercial transportation by the federal government as one of the measures to curtail the spread of the corona virus pandemic that has continued to impinge on the global economy.

PTONA members constitute majorly of all the biggest names in the public transportation system and the association is the biggest stakeholders, apart from the government.

An analysis of the statistics of permanent losses due to the ban on commercial transportation   made available to BusinessDay by Isaac Uhunmwagho, president of PTONA a result of the government ban on interstate travels indicates that for the first four, eight and 12 weeks, there was estimated loss of N50billion, N120billion and N200billion respectively loss to the national gross domestic product.

While appealing o the authorities concerned that, the ban on interstate transportation be lifted as soon as possible, the PTONA president said the issue of ban on inter-state transportation is something that affects everyone in particular and the economy in general.

To cushion the effects of the Covid-19 affliction upon their return to the roads, members had already written their plea for financial assistance and palliatives to the Economic Sustainability Committee headed by vice president Yemi Osibanjo.

He appealed that government should face the challenge of ensuring that Nigerians comply with the guidelines and protocols which will be introduced for long-distance travels, as well as encourage strict adherence to every guidelines as contained in the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

Some of the negative effects of the lockdown,  Uhunmwagho pointed out is that “the longer the ban on inter-state travelling lasts, the much more will be the number of small and big business that will die permanently, adding that” the earlier the ban is lifted, some businesses will be able to recover”.

In expressing fear that some commercial fleet owners will go bankrupt on the back of the fatal injuries that may be inflicted on them after the Covid-19 era,  PTONA suggested that government needs to financially aid the transport sector such that the operators do not have to transfer the entire burden on to the poor hapless travelers who are already very weak financially because of all the scorching effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

Part of the negative effects of the many weeks of ban on passenger commercial vehicles is the inability to continue payment of staff salaries which they lamented has been the plight of many transporters, as the funds are no longer there.

Furthermore, thousands of vehicles have been parked for almost 3 months while it will cost millions of naira towards the restoration of these redundant fleet back to sound functional condition.

According to Isaac Uhunmwagho; “The reliability of many of these vehicles will not be the same anymore.

Vehicles were never designed to be left idle, and even if they may re-start, numerous mechanical, electrical and system faults are bound to arise, including tyres, and the transport owners have very little funds left to meet up with these challenges. Some transport owners who have rented premises may be unable to continue using some of such premises”.

As part of preparations to return back to their passenger transportation business,  Uhunmwagho however, assured that PTONA is working closely with the federal ministries of transportation, works, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigerian Police as well as the various state governments in line with the Covid-19 safety guidelines.

In the post Covid-19 operating conditions, vehicles are expected to carry approximately 50 percent of passenger as well as spend money on additional sanitation and health facilities.

‘’If a vehicle takes 50 percent of passengers, simple arithmetic will dictates that the transport fare will have to double. The airlines have already come up with a similar answer. The question is, can the Nigerians, whose average level of income has been adversely hit by the effects of Covid-19 be able to pay significantly increased transport fares?”. The PTONA president explained.

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