Owners of inter-state transport vehicles under the aegis of Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA) said they have lost over N200 billion.

This, they said, was due to the inability to operate during the ongoing COVID-19 restriction.

PTONA National President Isaac Uhunmwagho at a briefing appealed to the Federal Government to lift restriction on their operations.

Besides lifting the restriction, Uhunmwagho also urged the government to give financial aid to the operators to ease their burden.

The association said the adverse effects of the ban on inter-city travels are so dire that many of the transport firms and businesses are bound to go bankrupt without bailout.

“COVID-19 will not be gone in the next six months. We need to learn how to live alongside with COVID-19, and apply all necessary measures.

Read Also: Police to move against lockdown violators in Enugu

The longer the ban on inter-state travelling lasts, the much more will be the number of small and big business that will die permanently. The earlier the ban is lifted, the sooner some businesses will be able to recover,” he said.

According to him, the bailout will assist the operators to restore to sound motoring condition the buses grounded for months, reduce the number of passengers admitted on board when they re-start, as well as spend money on sanitation and health facilities.

He said: “These are costs too heavy for firms that will be convalescing from the effects of long lockdown to bear without government life-line, especially when the transporters are faced with the inability to continue paying salaries to workers due to lack of funds.

“If a vehicle takes 50 per cent of passengers, simple arithmetic will dictate that the transport fare will have to double.

The airlines have already come up with a similar answer. The question is: Can Nigerians, whose average level of income has been adversely hit by the effects of COVID-19, be able to pay significantly increased transport fares?”

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