By Theodore Opara
•Efex, ABC CEOs, others are PTONA leaders
AN umbrella association of all long and medium distance passenger transport firms nationwide has emerged with the goal of partnering with government at all levels to ensure that road transportation takes its pride of place in the socio-economic life of the nation.
The new body – Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association, PTONA – which began two years ago as a coalition of some existing road transport associations, including Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria, ALBON; Association of Mass Transit Operators of Nigeria, AMTO; and Association of Benin Transport Owners, ABTO; has also elected its inaugural national executive council.
At an annual general meeting held in Lagos, recently, the Chairman of Efex Executive/Efosa Express Ltd, Engr. Isaac Uhunmwagho and the CEO of ABC Transport Plc, Frank Nneji, were elected the President and Secretary of PTONA, respectively.
The conveners explained that the association would be positioned as a strong voice for the bus transportation industry to add value to its members, users and other stakeholders, even as bad roads, insecurity, high duties on vehicles, multiple taxes across the country were all hurting their businesses.
In his remarks, the newly elected President, who was until then chairman of the AGM planning committee, thanked the participants for the “big honour and privilege” of being elected the first President of the all-inclusive association. He promised to galvanise the executive committee into a formidable successful winning team.
He assured that PTONA would be liaising with government at all levels and their agencies, to tackle the challenges inhibiting the growth of road transportation, noting that the coalition was probably 60 years behind schedule, as all the big investors in the transport sector should have come together a long time ago.
Though he did not give details, the President also hinted of a Presidential Pet Project to be unwrapped within the next few months which would create a window of opportunity for travellers and the transport owners.
Uhunmwagho said: “PTONA and the Government at various levels are partners in the quest to improve the transportation experience of millions of Nigerians. While our members combined invest billions of naira into transportation annually, the federal and state governments invest over N1trn annually on transportation infrastructure, especially roads. Both parties now need to co-operate and collaborate so that Nigerians can have safer, smoother, and more enjoyable travelling experience.”
PTONA members, according to him, would engage proactively with all agents of government including the security forces, the Customs, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps, local governments, and others, in order to have improved co-operation and partnership.
Earlier in his remarks, Nneji had said that the integration of the associations into a “formidable group”, would address a situation whereby transport firms that invest billions in the business have been fictionalised into regional blocs and too laid-back.
Unfortunately, the PTONA Secretary observed, this had left the sector to be “controlled by the workers union(s) who seem to be recognised by the government more than the investors, owners and the active operators.
Also part of the inaugural PTONA National Executive Council, are Prince Emeka Mamah, Deputy President; Prince Ejike Okoli, Vice President, West; Okey Mba, Vice President, East; Chief Nonso Ubajaka, Financial Secretary; Chief Gregory Inyaba, Treasurer; Valentine Uduebor, who defeated two other candidates to emerge the Public Relations Officer; and Christian Ogueri Udunna, Provost/Welfare Officer.
Members had earlier reviewed and adopted the association’s new constitution.