The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has commended the plan by the Federal Ministry of Transportation for a mass transit scheme that will provide 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 was long overdue and a welcome development.
The ministry had 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.
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Baruwa, who said commercial drivers across the country heaved a sigh of relief when the news of the proposed scheme filtered, added that the union would partner with the Federal Government to ensure the actualization of the scheme.
The union leader disclosed that the last time commercial drivers in the country enjoyed a sustainable mass transit scheme was in 1992 during the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda, saying attempts by successive administrations on mass transit schemes failed.
Baruwa, therefore, urged the minister to get the leadership of the transport union involved in the process as the drivers would 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 had the capacity to buy new vehicles while vehicle dealers, who could give vehicles out on ‘hire purchase’ to drivers, were no longer in business.
He added that the scheme if implemented, would 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 President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts 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 it would be revolving and that other stakeholders such as banks and insurance companies would be involved.
The minister added that the committee in charge had been given the mandate to seek input from transport unions and other stakeholders in the implementation of the scheme.
Adegoroye expressed worry over the condition of most of the vehicles used for commercial transportation in the country.
He said the scheme was aimed at phasing out rickety vehicles from Nigerian roads and providing an enabling environment for transportation to safeguard the lives of commuters.
He lauded the leadership of the union for maintaining strong and disciplined followership and urged the union to train its members on the dangers of alcohol drinking and drug abuse currently rampant at many motor parks across the country.
“I commend your leadership but I think there is a need for commercial driving to be professionalized.
“Commercial driving should not be an all-comers affair. Someone should not just learn to drive and then put a vehicle on the road and start 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 drunk-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 warned.