The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has lauded the Federal Ministry of Transportation for a mass transit scheme that will make available new vehicles for commercial drivers in the country.
The minister’s special assistant, media and publicity, Ebenezer Adeniyan disclosed in a statement that 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, at the weekend in Abuja, said the scheme is long overdue and welcome development.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation 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 actualisation 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 Babangida. He pointed out that several attempts by successive administrations to resuscitate mass transit schemes have flopped.
Buruwa, therefore, urged the minister to involve the leadership of the transport union in the process, as the drivers can guide the government on the implementation of the scheme, especially 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. He expressed confidence that the 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 hailed the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari toward improving land, rail and water transportation in the country.
Responding, 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.
He 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 an enabling environment for transportation to safeguard the lives of commuters.
While lauding the leadership of the union for maintaining strong and disciplined followership, he urged the union to train its members on the dangers of drink-driving and drug abuse which are rampant at many motor parks across the country.
“I think there is a need for commercial driving to be professionalised. Commercial driving should not be an all-comer affair. Someone should not just learn to drive, put a vehicle on the road and start commercial transportation. There should be special training for commercial drivers and stringent conditions to be met by someone before [they] become commercial drivers.
“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.