The Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N15 billion to be drawn from the Infrastructure Bank and Public Mass Transit Revolving Fund (PMTF) for access by operators of mass transit services in the country to enable them purchase locally manufactured mass transit buses.
The provision of the fund, which is available at zero per cent interest, is to encourage the patronage of Made in Nigeria buses.
The Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, disclosed this Thursday, when he chaired the special meeting of the Special Committee on National Mass Transit Framework, which was held at the State House, Abuja.
The Vice-President, who noted that the funds was meant specifically for the purchase of locally manufactured buses, emphasised the importance of access to cheap financing to encourage local manufacture of the Mass Transit buses, saying "there is a specific zero per cent interest rate money for the transporters to access but only to buy from local manufacturers."
Sambo, however, directed the Ministry of Trade and Investment to meet with local automobile manufactures to ascertain their true production capacity to meet demand by operators.
He stated that the funds would also be extended to mass transit service in the country's waterways and the railways.
The vice-president, in a statement by his spokesperson, Alhaji Sani Umar, also set up a committee under the chairmanship of the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, to come up with terms and conditions for easy access to these funds by the operators.
The committee is to submit its report in two weeks.
Other members of the committee are the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Professor Nwanze Okidegbe, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga; Director General, National Automotive Council, Mallam Aminu Jalal; the CBN Governor, Dr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; the Bank of Infrastructure and the Presidents of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Najim Yasin and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Kassim Ibrahim Bataiya.
Sambo also announced that a stakeholders meeting would be convened specifically to encourage local patronage of automobiles manufactured in Nigeria, particularly high capacity buses.
He canvassed the need to patronise these automobile industries and promised to table the matter to the 36 state governors and the FCT, during the National Economic Council meeting.
Meanwhile in their remarks, members of the committee all stressed the need to encourage local patronage of automobile industries in the country by operators of the Mass Transit Services, including the three tiers of government. They noted that locally manufactured automobiles were more durable and more affordable.
They identified patronage and access to financing as key to encouraging local manufacture of the mass transit buses.