BRT operator laments inflation, lack of forex for vehicle parts

Primero Transport Services Limited, operator of the Bus Rapid Transit in Lagos, on


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BRT operator laments inflation, lack of forex for vehicle parts
Fola Tinubu

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Primero Transport Services Limited, operator of the Bus Rapid Transit in Lagos, on Sunday lamented impact of inflation on operations and inability to access forex vehicle parts' importation to revive faulty buses.

 

The Managing Director of the firm, Fola Tinubu, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen while reacting on challenges facing the firm in its bid to provide world-class services to commuters.

 

Tinubu, who noted that the firm had been struggling in the last six years of operations, said that government's regulation on fares without consideration for inflations and provision of subsidy, had crippled the revenue generating ability of the firm to provide world-class services.

 

According to him, the firm cannot also access forex from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to import parts to revive most of the buses that are already broken down.

 

Tinubu said: "The cost keeps galloping. Diesel has gone up by almost 41 per cent between January and now this year alone. We were buying diesel late last year about N181.90 a litre, it's N255 or N258 now. 

 

"This means our cost is going up, government cannot cap our revenue generating ability (by fixing fares) and leaves our cost to keep galloping. It's a recipe for disaster.

 

"Also, we want to bring vehicle parts in so we can fix our buses but the CBN told us that they don't have foreign exchange for parts, we were told to go to the black markets and black markets right now, they are offering at N490, or N495, some people even offer N500.

 

"The reality is if the cost keeps going up and everytime naira loses value, our cost shoots up because we don't manufacture anything in this country. With this situation, it will be hard to provide a transport system for a world class economy."

 

According to him, if the inflation continues and CBN cannot provide forex at official rates, the firm that have employed about 2000 people and helped the economy cannot be sustained.

 

Tinubu urged the state government to either give the private sector free hand to operate or provide subsidy as being done in all world-class climes.

 

"Transport is the backbone of the economy, people have to move from point A to point B. If government wants to make people's lives easier and does not want us to charge more than XYZ naira, the government should be ready to subsidise it. 

 

Tinubu said: "The sad fact is, if we want a world class service, it has to be paid for. We can either stay with our "danfo" and "okada mode of transportation, or we go the way other countries are doing it. All the other countries are doing it well and it is not a rocket science. 

 

"The company has been struggling for the past six years, we are working quite, trying to figure things out and trying to make it work."

 

The managing director, however, said that he understood that the masses did not want an increment in the bus fares because their income was very low and things were tough in the general economy.

 

"But if Primero is not put on a solid financial footing, it would end up cost all of us more in the long run because, God forbids, if anything happens to Primero, the danfo drivers are going to charge N1000 from Ikorodu to TBS and people will have no choice but to go. 

 

"I fully understand plights of the masses because all over the world people spend between 15 and 25 per cent of their income on transportation, but in Nigeria, it is between 50 and 75 per cent.

 

"For somebody who has spent between 50 and 75 perc ent of income on transportation, even if you want to increase fare by N50, he will oppose; but the question is how do we make this thing work.

 

"If we want a world class service, it has to be paid for. The employees have to be paid, the diesel suppliers have to be paid, the parts' suppliers have to be paid. All of these things has to be paid for," he added.

 

The Managing Director rector said that the price of vehicle parts imported last eight or nine months by the firm had increased with about N400 million now because naira then was about about N360.

 

Our Energy Correspondent, National, reports that Tinubu decried a situation where CBN would find dollars for pilgrimages at a cheaper rates but not failed to find dollars for a sector that was not only a backbone of the economy but employed so many people. 

He however said that the firm was restructuring and looking inward to provide a more effective and efficient services that every commuters would be proud of.



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Yunus Yusuf
Energy Correspondent, National
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