We deserve FG stimulus than airline operators

Agency Reporter
Road transport operators have declared they are more deserving of federal government’s stimulus than airline operators.
The operators, under the aegies of The Association of Private Transport Companies of Nigeria (APTCON) said they are more affected by the lockdown orders by Federal and State Governments than airline operators.
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) last week demanded inclusion in the government’s stimulus packages as well as other palliatives to help the association through the COVID-19 crisis and after.
But spokesman for APTCON, Audu Gaddo, in a statement, explained that road transport operations had also been devastated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said considering its pivotal position in the economy, the government should give road transport operators priority over others.
“Road transport definitely employs more Nigerians than airline operators. Millions of Nigerians work for the road transport business, both directly and indirectly,” Gaddo said.
He added: “It is also the main transport mode since the average Nigerian cannot afford to fly. If the sector suffers, it will affect every Nigerian across the country while most have little or no economic stake in air travel.
“Our requests only cover org-nised road transporters; companies that operate legitimate road transport services, having a proper business structure and paying taxes. So, government has no challenge identifying beneficiaries and channelling its support to those who contribute to government revenue.”
Gaddo further explained: “We are not opposed to government supporting airline operators, however, we strongly believe that given the unique place of road transport operations in the Nigerian economy at all levels, road transport companies should be first in line for government’s financial support.”
He argued that the government will be insensitive to the plight of the general populace if it considered bailing air operators without first providing much-needed support to road transport companies.
“Airline operators have consistently enjoyed government’s support and palliatives in the past, yet still collapse, while we road transport operators are left to our own devices even though we provide our services under harsh conditions, like bad roads and multiple taxations leading to really high overheads.
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“Contrary to the claim that all other forms of transportation no longer pay Value Added Tax (VAT); it should be noted that road transport operators still pay VAT,” Gaddo said, responding to AON’s claim that only domestic airlines still pay VAT despite an executive order from 2018 exempting transport services for use by the general public from paying VAT.
Gaddo called on the Vice President, Minister of Transport, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as key players to work together in implementing the demands of road transport operators.
According to him: “Transportation is one of the non-oil drivers of the Nigerian economy, and road transport contributes the largest share in the transportation sub-sector. It is also the fastest-growing. In the third quarter of 2019, road transport contributed 1.79% to the overall Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria, compared to air transport with 0.15% and water with 0.01%.
“Beyond contributing to the GDP, road transport provides the network essential for nationwide business and tourism, enabling all other sectors one way or the other and pushing growth in remote corners of the country.
“Travel by road also remains the core connector for Nigeria’s thirty-six states and federal capital. A few times every year, thousands of young Nigerians flock to motor parks on their way to their call up station for national youth service, Nigeria’s biggest attempt at national integration. It is symbolic that the NYSC scheme would be impossible without road transport operators who ferry most of these youths to all corners of the nation.
“Moreover, in connecting Nigeria and supporting its economy, road transport businesses employ millions of Nigerians both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy. Even without precise figures, it is easy to surmise that the road transport section is one of the biggest employers of labour both directly and indirectly.
“Therefore, in the best interest of the Nigerian economy at all levels, policymakers now need to recognize the value of road transport businesses and lend them the support needed to drive the collective wealth of this nation.”

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