At the inaugural general meeting of Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), the need for government to cooperate with corporate transport associations was duly stressed.
According to the Chairman Planning Committee of the association, Isaac Uhunmwagho, the chaotic hazards confronting the transport system can be curbed if government works hand-in-hand with transport corporates.
“Transportation in Nigeria is very chaotic. Government spends a lot of money on transportation. The biggest budget are spent on roads and roads are for transportation. in Lagos State, there is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the monorails…they are doing it single-handedly. We are supposed to be partners; to work with them side by side so that they don’t have to do everything. They don’t specialise in running transport system. It is risky and not efficient for them. We are investors in the transport system. If we combine our forces with the government, the public will have better transport system.”
He added that a partnership with the government will seek ways to sanitise the sector. He however admitted that the government was already doing their best but that the transport sector needs a robust teamwork to regularise.
“If they deal with us, we can give rules and regulations to drivers. Drivers who work for us transporters must conform to the standards we set for them. We need order, sanity, discipline in the transport sector and all of these can be achieved when government works in collaboration with corporate outfits like PTONA and the standard will be set.”
His words were echoed by the outgoing Coalition Chairman of the group, Emeka Mamah who highlighted the areas that the government need to focus on.
“We expect so much from the government. There are so many things that the transport owners need, especially road, security, and we are also looking at import duties on some of these vehicles. The duties are very much on the high side.”
The newly registered association is an umbrella body for bus owners and operators in Nigeria for the purpose of interacting with government for the improvement of inter- state and inter city transportation. Currently, the group boasts of about 200 members and are working seriously to increase that number.
However, they were charged by their guest speaker Tajudeen Bawa-Allah, to expand their purview in order to accommodate oteht stakeholders in the transport sector such as airlines and ferry operators.
Bawa-Allah also advised the group to follow the model of the American Public Transport Association (APTA) which members are public organisations engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, rail and waterborne passenger services.
“To strengthen and improve performance transportation,” he said ‘”APTA serves and leads its diverse membership through advocacy, innovation and information sharing. You can build an integrated transport system.”