The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria recently held a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the removal of Fuel subsidy by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which has now been implemented. At that Debate, I came up with a transportation solution to the subsidy issue which allows government to remove the subsidy and at the same time subsidise the transport sector with a fraction of the savings from the subsidy removal, with a net effect of no transport fare increase in the post subsidy era. My proposal, which is now christeneted ‘THE BEN BRUCE PLAN: SUBSIDISING THE POOR’ is now more urgent in order to reduce the hardship which Nigerians have started to experience since the January 1, 2012 subsidy removal! A good plan is only as important as the willingness to execute it. Since Independence in 1960, successive Administrations have paid little attention to the Poor. Government has played the role of Robin Hood, unfortunately though in reverse, they have taken from the Poor to subsidise and sustain the Rich. I urge The Federal Government to reverse that role and play the real Robin Hood, and now take from the Rich and give to the Poor. This simply means that they must ensure that the Rich make the same sacrifice that the Poor have made and continue to make. After all, it is not a sin to be poor. The Government of Nigeria must practice what it preaches, if it does and implements the Ben Bruce Transport Policy, it will go a long way in easing the untold hardship the increase in the cost of Petrol will have on The Nigerian masses. THE BEN BRUCE. TRANSPORT POLICY is simple, realistic and very achievable. It is to provide affordable, sustainable, comfortable, reliable and modern mass transit system for Nigerians without fare increase and refleeting the national rolling stock (buses and taxis) and the provision of transport infrastructures (bus depot, bus terminals, bus shelters and laybys). The Government needs to set up the National Transport Regulatory Authority (NTRA) and State transport Regulatory Authority (STAs) to implement this programme.
One of the focal points of my plan, is that all School Children in Uniform, senior Citizens over 60 and Children under 10 must travel free of charge by Public Transportation under this plan. My plan guarantees stabilization of transport fares, massive employment generation, create new national identity through The ‘Buses and Taxis’ that would be celebrated around the country and offer a breath of fresh air rather than the gloom and doom that have pervaded the national scene in recent times. The details of my plan have been worked with global transport experts and would be in the public domain soon! To implement this plan, I propose $2b annually for 10 years. This will re-invent and re- build the Transport sector of Nigeria and alleviate the sufferings of the Nigerian people and at the same time grow our Economy. I demand for the Nigerian masses a $500m subsidy fund to subsidise Bus and Taxi services in Nigeria. I want that subsidy at 50% of the cost for all Nigerians. Many other developing and advanced Economies have subsidised their Transport Sectors. For instance, Brazil by 70%, South Africa by 34%, Chile by 57%, the UK by 49%, Belgium by 69% and finland by 65%. We all know the problems that have plagued our Nation for Decades, we all know the untold hardship our people have been through, and so did the Afrobeat Legend Fela Anikulapo- Kuti as emphasised in many of his songs and a fraction of the subsidy savings would go a long way to reverse Fela’s prophesy! I estimate that we spend N50b annually on Transport Fare, deregulation will double that and make it N100b. The additional N50b should be paid by the Government. And equally important, I propose an additional $500 annual intervention Fund at 5% interest over 5 years provided by the Banks and Guaranteed by the Federal Government to be used to buy fuel efficient Cars and Buses. These vehicles must be among the top 5 most fuel efficient Cars and Buses in the world and most importantly, they must be duty free. I don’t have to be psychic or a soothsayer to know that the money that will accrue to Government from deregulation is more than enough to pay for the purchase of such Vehicles, with an estimate of N3m for Cars, N11m for mini Buses and N16m for bigger Buses. Old Cars and Buses should be brought to designated centres, where they can be purchased for at least N300,000 each and crushed, so they are taken out of circulation and will reduce the carnage on our roads. The money will be used as a down payment, towards the purchase of New cars and Buses. This should also apply to any Nigerian who wishes to purchase a fuel efficient vehicle. We must transform Bus Drivers, into Bus owners and Taxi Drivers into Taxi owners and make it easy for the Nigerian working class to own Cars. $500m is also needed to provide infrastructure for the Buses And Taxis such as Bus depots (for overnight parking/Garaging of the Buses, fuelling, repairs and maintenance etc), Bus Terminals (for Buses to park and wait for passengers with facilities such as restaurants, conveniences, Shops, fuel stations and bus washing Bay, etc), Bus Shelters and Layby(for Buses to pick up and drop Passengers, along Bus corridors in urban areas without affecting the general traffic flow, among other modern transport infrastructures to provide a safe, convenient, comfortable and reliable transport system for Nigerians. To make my plan work, $500m must also be provided by Government to replace old, unsafe and uneconomical Trucks. The same principle applies, but they will not get subsidy because they use Diesel which had been deregulated long before the deregulation of Petrol even became an issue. Nigeria will spend in 10 years exactly 20% of the savings that will accrue from the removal of subsidy. The remaining 80% could then be channeled towards long term transport system including Rail and Water Transport and other palliative programmes of government as contained in the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE PROGAMME) of the Federal Government. I urge all Nigerians to support the BEN BRUCE PLAN: SUBSIDISING THE POOR and If the Government accepts this proposed Plan of mine and implements it, the mileage it will impact on the lives of the Nigerian masses will be immeasurable.