Transport Operators under the aegis of Public Transport Owners of Nigeria, has vowed to penalize members who flout the Federal Government COVID-19 protocols especially overloading of passengers.
The group gave the order after its emergency meeting in Onitsha, Anambra on Wednesday to resume operations following reopening of interstate movements.
Briefing newsmen after its meeting, the National Taskforce Chairman, Chief Joseph Ejiofor and the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria, a sub-group of the main body expressed delight over the lifting on interstate travel ban.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that various motor parks visited showed a substantial compliance to the health and safety of COVID-19 protocols as stipulated by the government.
Ejiofor said it held an emergency meeting to further strengthen compliance and review of transportation fare as a result of reduction of number of passengers to be transported by each vehicle.
He warned that members, who flout the COVID-19 protocols especially overloading of vehicles and compulsory use of face masks by passengers, would be penalized.
According to him, members have agreed to reduce the number of passengers in the luxury buses from 57 to 30 to ensure the physical distancing protocol.
“For smaller buses, passengers to be carried will now be nine as against 14 passengers while five passengers will now be allowed in Sienna buses as against seven.
“We have mapped out plans to monitor compliance across the country,” he said, urging all the state task force chairmen to comply with the directive.
According to him, defaulting transport company would pay N20,000 besides the stipulated penalty of N50,000 by the Federal Government.
“COVID-19 is real. We are safer when no one is affected by COVID-19 disease,” he added.
He disclosed that further meetings would be held with various state governments to ensure strict enforcement.
Also speaking, Mr Uchenna Akuegbu, the Chief Executive Officer of Uchenna Motors Nig. Ltd., commended the Federal Government for the privilege to reopen business.
“We experienced lots of losses and damages in the business during the lockdown and therefore, I am appealing to the Federal Government to assist us to recover our losses,” he said.
Akuegbu explained that the emergency meeting was to ensure that the federal government’s directives on COVID-19 protocols were observed.
The transporter, who is also the state taskforce chairman, Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria, explained that physical distancing would increase the transport fare.
“A new luxury bus is about N200 million. A lot of us bought new buses before the pandemic and are owing banks, so the increase is to also enable us repay banks and sustain the business,” he explained.
He said transportation fare to Lagos from Onitsha would now cost N8,500 as against the former price of N4,000, while that of Onitsha to Kano will cost N8,000 as against N4,000.
Akuegbu added that Onitsha to Jos which was previously N4,500 is now N8,000.
He advised members and drivers to comply strictly to the protocols by government and as well cautioned Trucks and articulated vehicles against carrying passengers on a long journey due to the price hike.
“Any driver that embarks on a journey must do so with a manifest of passengers which would enable us or Federal Government taskforce look out for excess passengers,” he said.
The taskforce chairman also appealed to the Federal Government to support the body towards enforcing the protocols adding that there were many unregistered buses that caused problem for them. (NAN)