From Uche Usim, Abuja
The National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) is awaiting the Federal Government’s pronouncement on the new bridging cost (freight rate) of N9:11k per litre, as against the current rate of about N7/litre.
The National President of NARTO, Mr Yusuf Lawal Othman made the disclosure in Abuja at the 2021 Annual General Meeting of the association.
According to him, the new bridging cost was long overdue considering the unsavoury environment members of the association operate in.
Othman said: “Safety will continue to be our core mandate. But the environment is quite challenging. We are the biggest employer of labour after the Federal Government and we are challenged by bad roads, extortion and others.
“We negotiated a new freight rate and this will be in use soon and it os all to boost ease of doing business.
“So, increase in freight rate means more income for us and of course, more investments for us too. We are working with the government to see the new freight rate come into operation”.
The NARTO President revealed that 2020 was a most challenging year due to the COVID-19 pestilence that forced many nations into lockdowns, thus crippling the economy.
“We couldn’t hold a proper AGM last year due to COVID-19. 2020 was tough for NARTO. Shutdowns and lockdowns affected us. There was restriction of movement for about five months. This led to loss of huge revenue to pay staff.
“Yet, it spread to 2021 and there’s a fear of a second wave. We lost some stalwarts last year and we mourn their departure.
“Despite all these, we made progress in achieving our mandate. There was a peaceful transfer of power. Our new mandate harps on maintaining good relationship with all critical stakeholders like PPMC and others, DSS, FRSC, Transport Ministry, CBN, etc. We will always partner with PTD of NUPENG and remain law abiding”, he added.
In his goodwill message at the event, an official of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Yusuf Kila hailed NARTO for transporting vital goods in 2020, especially during the lockdown.
He said the association helped in efficient fertilizer delivery across the country, assuring that NARTO will be heavily patronised in transporting petroleum products once Dangote refinery becomes operational.
Also delivering his goodwill message, Umar Ajiya, the representative of NNPC GMD, said that NARTO remains a strategic partner with the corporation in the downstream sector.
He said the corporation will continually work with NARTO for uninterrupted and efficient transportation of products.
“We will continue to work with NARTO and other bodies to address challenges in distribution.
We will ensure PEF pays your members as and when due.
“In Nigeria, fuel distribution is transported via tankers. NARTO is charge of that and has supported the economy. We’ve not had any fuel distribution challenge. Security agencies should support them to end extortion, kidnap of their workers and other issues”, Ajiya said.
He added that talks were ongoing engagement between FG and labour on the new freight rate, assuring that pronouncement on the new template will be made after the deliberations.