Shettima gives 450 buses to Borno drivers
TO cushion the effects of Boko Haram attacks on commercial vehicle operators in Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima yesterday presented 450 10-seater buses to commercial vehicle operators under the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
Making the presentation to drivers at the Government House in Maiduguri, Shettima said that the beneficiaries are expected to repay 50 per cent cost of the buses as they generate income. Each of the Sharan buses cost N1.1 million, but the beneficiaries are to repay N550,000 to the government through their union officials over a monitored period.
He said: “Since Borno State started facing the challenges of insurgency in 2009, one group that has remained a silent victim is the National Union of Road Transport Workers.
“Countless number of commercial drivers, who are members of the union, have lost their lives on account of moving people from one point to another to make people succeed in business, visit to families and keeping our society functional.
“We all know that once vehicles, especially commercial vehicles connecting states, are out of the road, a society is brought to a halt. This is because over 70 per cent of citizens all over Nigeria depend on commercial transport for mobility of trade, social and cultural activities.
“We depend on commercial transport for the food we all eat in our houses and virtually all our household items. What really surprises me is the courage of members of the NURTW. Drivers under this association defied all fears and conveyed people, food items and other essentials of life into Borno State in the darkest days of Boko Haram insurgency.”
“Some of them even lost their lives in the process, but many others still carried on. A lot of them took the bull by its horn. This is a group that keeps Borno connected to the rest of Nigeria and helps in conveying the needs of our people so we can all exist as a society.”
Shettima further explained his administration’s efforts in boosting the activities of commercial drivers and other road users, stating: “As part of our measures to make activities of members of NURTW easier, this administration has since 2011 embarked on different road projects to creatively open up Maiduguri, which is not just our largest city but also has the highest motor traffic.”
He listed such efforts to include construction of ring roads around the Mai Doki Roundabout, reduction of the old Mai Doki Roundabout and some internal bye-pass, among others, meant to reduce traffic in Maiduguri and other parts of the state.
Responding, the NURTW President, speaking through the state leader, Bello Maduganari, said the governor, by giving out 450 buses, has assisted 4,500 families because each of the buses would have direct impact on 10 families based on known projections worked out by the union many years ago.
According to him, no Nigerian governor has paid attention to commercial drivers under the union as much as Shettima, who had also previously given the union N10 million and provided vehicles for the union’s operational use.
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