Nigerian govt to procure 1,600 mass transit buses

*Orders MDAs to pay January salaries on 20th

Daniel Idonor

04 January 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan and cabinet members, Wednesday, rose from an emergency session of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, with an approval for the Federal Government to procure 1,600 mass transit buses on Monday, as part of the long term plans to cushion the harsh effects of the removal of fuel subsidy.

FEC also directed all Ministries, Departments and agencies, MDAs, to pay the monthly salaries of workers by January 20 to amelliorate the harsh effect; consequently, FAAC meeting has been scheduled for January 15 to deliberate on the revenue sharing for the month.

Addressing State House correspondents, at the end of an emergency Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Olusegun Aganga, minister of trade and investment who was joined by Labaran Maku, minister of information and Idris Umar, minister of transportation, said the 1,600 mass transit buses formed part of the N10 billion revolving loan set aside by the government to address transport infrastructure in the country.

The revolving loan according to him is payable over a five years period and attracts a 5 per cent interest rate under the Urban Mass Transit Programme and would be made available to credible transporters, labour unions and other Nigerians involved in transport business.

According to him “we have a duty to turn short term pain to long term gains,” adding that “government has placed order for massive supply of decent diesel buses to solve transportation problem. In the next couple of weeks, there will be sufficient mass transit buses. It will go on for two years”.

Aganga stated further that “any moment from now, we should take delivery of these buses. As the Federal Executive Council, we are not here to punish Nigerians”.

“For the first time, we want to put in place a sustainable robust mass transit programme”, says loan at five per cent interest rate to be made available to transporters “to reduce the pains fellow Nigerians are going through now”, he said.

The minister argued that contrary to reports, the subsidy issue actually started in 2009 adding that “we have been undertaking poverty and social impact analysis to see what impact this will have on Nigerians. That is because we realised the pain it will cause and today’s meeting gave us the opportunity to empathise and to know that it was a very painful decision”.

“I think we will all agree that the economy case has been a case of how and when but we have a duty as government to cushion the temporary pains. We have a duty to convert the pain to long term gains for Nigerians and the economy,” he said.

On the outcome of the meeting, Maku disclosed that “the meeting was called to deliberate on very crucial national issue particularly on the deregulation of the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil industry” adding that “Mr. President called the meeting to expedite action on the measures to cushion the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy”.

He regretted that “previous government has postponed deregulation, the intended benefits did not come true because for as long as government continuous to monopolise the sector, no private sector will come in and invest”.

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