Daily Trust (Abuja)

17 January 2012

Nigeria: Bus Fares in to Go Down By 20 Percent--Aganga

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, has said that part the goal of the federal Government mass transit program is to bring down the bus fare by twenty percent.

The minister who said this today while launching the hundred buses allocated to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in the Federal Government Mass Transit program at the Berger Junction said most of the buses are very good for the economy as they are made in Nigeria.

Noting that commuter will pay the N80 they used to pay before January 1st, Aganga said " The beauty of it is that we have tried to provide buses that are 26-seater and above. So, you have 26-seater, 50-seaters and above. Most of them are diesel-powered. And the whole idea of providing buses that are 26-seaters and above is because of what Mr. president want to achieve. The whole idea is to develop a robust, sustainable program for the entire country. And when you are talking about mass transit program, you are talking about 26-seaters and above most of the time because want as much people as possible to benefit from it. So, those are the type of buses we have."

"Also what we have done is to patronize made in Nigeria product as much as possible. You know, the president has said it; we want to create jobs for Nigerians. So, we have to buy the buses that are made in Nigeria first of all because it is going to create jobs. It is going to help the economy. So, a large chunk of the buses we have seen now are made in Nigeria. That one for example is from Innocent in Nnewi. And we've asked them to go and produce more for the next phase. So, it is good for the economy. It is good for jobs. It will create jobs. In fact when I spoke to all the manufacturers, the bus manufacturers, if we continue at this rate, the number of people working with them will double. So, it is good for the economy in that sense. That is for the economy. For Nigerians, the for the consumers, the plan which the president has for the Nigerians is that they are able to have available and affordable mass transit program in the country. If you recall, this route the bus fare was N80. It went up to N150 after. Today, they are paying N80 and below. The intention is that they should be able to pay 20% less than what they used to pay before January. That was all in the plan. Unfortunately, we could not roll out these buses on time because of the strike. If we were able to do this, most of these buses would have been on the road for the past one week."

" The way we have approached it is that it is not only for Abuja. It is for the whole country. It is a mass transit program for the country. And the plan is this. The revolving loan was launched in 2010 and with that we bought about 1600 buses. Now (it is) revolving loan because we want to be a sustainable program. So, what we do is, it run by the private sector. It is not the government that runs the buses. The private sector will run the buses. They will manage it like a business. They will manage it like a business. We will provide loans to them at a very cheap rate to make it easier for Nigerians who are going to be using the buses so that you will pay far less than what you are paying. So, if they had gone to the banks, they will borrow this money at 20% interest rate. We gave then the ones which we did in August last in 2010 at 5% interest rate. The ones which we have just given them now for all these buses you have seen are at 0% interest rate. So government is providing that subsidy for passengers to go in to the buses. Okay, and then we have gone further to negotiate with all the bus manufactures to make. sure that the parts are available. That will reduce the cost of maintenance. Again that will bring down the cost of transportation down. So, we've worked with transporters to make it cheaper for Nigerians in terms of providing them with mass transit. What we did last week was to acquire another 1200 buses. That will be distributed across .. we are looking at areas where we have the pressure points where you have large we are talking about passengers, and the different state governments will tell us which routes they should ply because it shouldn't be run by the Federal Government. It should be run by state governments. So, Abuja for example, the secretary of transport here will help direct the sort of route they should be plying. But going forward in the next two/three months, the idea is to work with the state governments and then accelerate things so that we have far more buses around, and then we have license routes for each one of them."

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