– Demands union’s input in choice of vehicles suitable for Nigerian roads
The leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has thrown its weight behind the plan by the Federal Ministry of Transportation for a mass transit scheme that will make available new vehicles for commercial drivers in the country.
The National President of the union, Mr. Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa, who led some national officers of the union on a courtesy visit to the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, in Abuja, said the scheme is long overdue and a welcome development.
According to a press statement issued by Prince Ebenezer Adeniyan, the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Minister of State for Transportation, the Federal Ministry of Transportation had recently set up a committee to work towards the implementation of a proposed special scheme for mass transit to be driven by transport operators for ease of road transportation across the country.
Baruwa, who said commercial drivers across the country heaved a sigh of relief when the news of the proposed scheme filtered, said the union will do everything possible to partner with the federal government to see to the actualization of the scheme.
The union leader disclosed that the last time drivers in the country enjoyed a sustainable mass transit scheme was in 1992 during the regime of former Military Administrator, General Ibrahim Babaginda, saying attempts by successive administrations on mass transit schemes have flopped.
Buruwa therefore urged the Minister to get the leadership of the transport union involved in the process as the drivers will be able to guide the government on the implementation of the scheme, especially on the choice of vehicles suitable for Nigerian roads.
He said commercial drivers no longer have the capacity to buy new vehicles while the dealers who could give vehicles out on ‘hire purchase’ to drivers are no longer in business, stressing that this new scheme will stop drivers from using dilapidated vehicles for commercial transportation.
The NURTW President, who commended the leadership style of Adegoroye since he assumed duties in the Ministry of Transportation, hailed the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari towards improving land, rail and water transportation in the country.
Responding, the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, commended the union for its readiness to partner with the Ministry on the proposed mass transit scheme, saying the scheme will be revolving and other stakeholders such as banks and insurance companies will be involved.
The Minister added that the committee in charge has been given the mandate to seek the input of transport unions and other stakeholders in the implementation of the scheme.
The Minister, who expressed worry over the condition of most of the vehicles being used for commercial transportation in the country, said the scheme is aimed at phasing out rickety vehicles from Nigerian roads and providing enabling environment for transportation to safeguard the lives of commuters.
While lauding the leadership of the union for maintaining strong and disciplined followership, he however urged the union to train its members on the dangers of alcohol drinking and drug abuse which are rampant at many motor parks across the country.
“I commend your leadership but I think there is the need for commercial driving to be professionalized. Commercial driving should not be an all comers affair. Someone should not just learn driving and then put a vehicle on the road and starting commercial transportation. There should be special training for commercial drivers and there should be stringent conditions to be met by someone before becoming a commercial driver.
“You also need to curb individual recklessness by training your members against drink-driving and drug abuse. Alcohol should not be sold in motor parks and any driver who needs to take medications to relax should do so when he is not going to drive. We need to stop putting the lives of our people in danger”, Adegoroye said.