The Road Transport Employers Association has pledged to aid the Federal Government of Nigeria in easing transportation challenges in view of the recent hike in prices of petroleum products, especially the Premium Motor Spirit popularly called Fuel.
Speaking with the National President of the Association Alh. Musa Shehu Isiwele, he described the recent price hike of fuel as a necessary evil that may bring an end to the perennial corruption that has engulf the so-called subsidy where few fuel importers continue to hold government and Nigerians at ransom:
‘If these drastic measures are not taken, the refineries won’t work because these importers will do everything to frustrate the emergence of new refineries and would not allow the old ones to work optimally. You could remember former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan made attempts at removing subsidy which costs Nigeria monies that would have been used in strengthening the other social sectors. Those moves were resisted by Nigerians but events unfolding shows we cannot continue to prolong our evil days’
Alh. Isiweke pledge to do whatever necessary to help the government of the day to cushion the effect. He suggested that government should now massively invest in transportation sector in partnership with relevant organization and stakeholders in transport industry.
‘Government alone cannot bridge the transportation gap and cushion the effect of this hike. RTEAN is engaging the FG on a plan to provide thousands of high capacity buses, taxis and mini buses. Such buses would be classified in such a manner that students and the disabled will pay less since they are not economically empowered as the working class. If we secure supports through Sovereign Bonds and Waivers, RTEAN will make transportation affordable by Nigerians despite the hike in fuel prices’
He blamed corruption as the reason why transport sector has not been strengthened in Nigeria
‘If the government mass transit scheme has been carried out the way it ought to, by now, the effect would have been easily absorbed. In previous times, we have seen government buying buses for mass transit schemes only for those that should implement the scheme to distribute the vehicles to their family members, friends and associates to manage. You can imagine a situation like that and what will be of such venture’.
Some of the immediate measures government should put in place according to Alh. Isiwele to ensure that the impact of the price hike will not so adversely affect Nigerians are:
- To partner organizations like RTEAN and other organized organizations in the transport sector.
- FG can liaise with the National Assembly to come up with laws to regulate tenancy as the next thing that will follow the hike is arbitrary increase of house rent by landlords
- Government should device a veritable means of price control of essential commodities as it is done elsewhere like Niger Republic and Ghana.
- Government should open up rural and farm roads so that agricultural produce could leave rural areas to the city centers with ease.
Asked why the RTEAN is not participating in the nationwide strike called by NLC, Alh. Isiwele opined that strike action by labour has never been the way out. In his language ‘Why must all strike actions be centered around fuel hike?’ Why doesn’t labour strike when landlords exploit civil servants or even when corruptions were perpetrated by those saddled with leadership positions in the country? He queried.