Will govt 1,600 buses end fuel subsidy protests in Nigeria?
The Nigerian government has announced measures it says would ease the effects of the fuel subsidy removal to put hundreds of buses on the streets, as Nigerian labour unions called for national strike and more protests.
The country’s main unions are demanding that the fuel subsidy be restored, otherwise they say an indefinite strike will begin on Monday along with mass demonstrations.Many Nigerians opposing the fuel subsidy withdrawal say it would inflict hardships on citizens and shoot up the cost of living, including food, transport and rent prices. But the government maintains that it would lead to it saving up to 8 billion US dollars which would instead be used to improve infrastructure, the Nigerian economy and provide basic social services.
At an emergency meeting of Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday, the government said it would distribute one thousand six hundred diesel-powered buses to major cities to boost mass transportation.
Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga made the disclosure at the end of the meeting.
Aganga, who briefed reporters along with the country’s Information and Transport Ministers, said the government would take delivery of the buses on January 9.
He said the 1,600 buses which was the first batch, would be distributed to transporters to run in the major cities at a highly subsidised rate.
Aganga said that the identified transporters with requisite capacity would be given the buses at five per cent interest rate payable in five years.
The minister said that over N10 billion or hundreds of millions of US dollars had been set aside as revolving loan to execute the mass transit support scheme.
He explained that Transport was a priority area for Nigerians and government, adding that the fare would be affordable.
He said in addition to the urban mass transit, the rehabilitation of the rail system from Lagos to Jebba had been completed, while the Jebba to Kano railway segment would be completed by March.
WADR’s Abuja Correspondent says Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council is made up of the Cabinet Ministers, Secretary to the Federal Government, the Vice President and chaired by the President.