Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) to intervene in crisis with the Lagos State Government which they say is threatening to cripple their businesses.
President and Chairman of Ifesinachi Group of Companies, Prince Emeka Mamah, who led the delegation to Osinbajo Monday night, alleged that the policies of Akinwunmi Ambode led Lagos State government, has led to hostile business climate in the city.
Mamah told State House Correspondents that Osinbajo has assured that he was going to step in so as to resolve the issue at the sonnets possible time.
“We have been assured that he is going to step into it. We believe that he is going to do this for us. We have the confidence in APC government, we are believing in the Vice President and we know that he is going to ensure that our problems will be resolved.
“No time frame was mentioned but I believe that from the way he spoke, I believe it is going to happen soonest.”
Mamah, has earlier said the group was seeking the intervention of Vice President Osinbajo, because the 2017 executive order by the Lagos State government directing all transporters on the Ikorodu corridor to relocate to Ojota, was crippling their businesses as the new location cannot accommodate 10 percent of their businesses.
They also the new location, lacks access to spare parts and workshops, road and the cost implication of a slot at the bus terminal was too high.
“Our request is first to ask that you appeal to Lagos State Government, under the leadership of His excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, to reconsider his decision that that our members operating in their various offices, which is used as private motor parks along Ikorodu road, Jibowu, Lagos state, should close their operations and move to Ojota bus terminal.
“It is indisputable, even by the Management of this Ojota Bus Terminal, that the space provided cannot accommodate 10% of our members, as some members such as Young Shall Grow Motor (Nig) Ltd, G. U. Okeke & Sons Motor (Nig) Ltd, Chisco Transport (Nig) Ltd, Peace Mass Transit (Nig) Ltd, God is Good Motor (Nig) Ltd, E. Ekeson & Bros Motor Ltd, to mention but a few, operations not less than 1,000,600,500,400,300 mini buses.
“Again, our assessment reveals that the facilities at the terminal failed the mandatory requirement of what a bus terminal looks like due to inaccessibility of spare parts and workshops, road and the cost implication of a slot at the bus terminal.”
Mamah said all efforts by the business owners to meet with Ambode to resolve the problem has not been successful.
According to him, “All letters written to have audience with His Excellency, Governor or Akibwunmi Ambode proved abortive. This is so notwithstanding our massive support during the 2015 election that brought him to power.
“Our members are not against the government policy plan of making Lagos State a mega city neither are we against moving to Ojota Bus Terminal, but looking at the massive investment already made at our private parks. We appeal that the government should allow us operate in our in our individual parks. We believe in one United Nigeria and are no-tribalistic business sector.”
The ALBON president also urged the federal government to address the issue of import duty tariff on luxury buses as the duty of 35 per cent on a bus of about N150 million was too high for investors.
He also requested the federal government to intervene in the Value Added Tax being demanded from bus owners as it was difficult for them to collect VAT from commuters.
On reduction on import duties, Mamah said, “Transportation in Nigeria has been tough majorly because of absence of rules and regulations guiding the business, couple with other sundry expenses like tariffs on imported good which is about 35 percent as against what obtains in the past, and subcharges being paid by the operators in the industry.
In the light of this we appeal that import duties be reduced to 10 percent in order to forestall road transportation going into extinction.”
On VAT, he said, “It is increasingly becoming a fact that the federal inland revenue has plans of collecting VAT from Nigerians, especially now that airline operator will be enjoying VAT free services.
“Consequently our members appeal that the federal government should consider removing this VAT-as we render the same services as airline operators and will be most honored if treated the same.
“Similarly, due to the cost of bringing in a bus into this country, stakeholders in road transport undergo some hurdles simply to keep road transportation going.
“Therefore, ask that federal government should make the purchase of these buses cost effective by subsiding them for us in form of loans.”
Mamah also sought FG’s intervention to address the issue of insecurity as they have recorded series of attacks leading to loss of lives.
“We appeal that the federal government should look inward and come up with a workable solution to resolving the problem of insecurity.
“Even with the obvious pressure being mounted against terrorists organisation, insecurity has been the bane that our members have recorded series of attacks on their buses which has resulted in loss of several lives.”
The Patron of the Association, Eugene Nzom-Ojukwu, added that the Association presented an award to the Vice President to show its support and strong solidarity with the government.
According to him, all the association needs is a level playing ground to enable it to serve the public better.
He said that the Lagos incident had pushed the operations of the group down, adding that about three months ago, the Lagos government impounded the association’s buses and kept them for three months without justification.
“We will find it difficult to set off all the accumulated bank interest that that action caused to us.
“You can also agree with us that the luxury bus association has never for one day gone on a strike no matter what it is.
“Our primary objective is to keep the nation moving; we do not want to be a stumbling block on the movement of the government and the people as well.
“We are trying to do whatever we think is possible for us to make sure that everything in Nigeria moves perfectly as far as transportation area is concerned,” Nzom-Ojukwu said.