Africa: Nigerian Road Transporters clamour for equal COVID-19 palliative with Air Transport operators

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A group of road transport operators in Nigeria, the Association of Private Transport Companies of Nigeria (APTCON) has appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that all stakeholders in the transport sector get equal treatment in COVID-19 stimulus packages.

A statement by the spokesperson, Audu Gaddo, explained that they have been hit by the effect of the coronavirus pandemic with looming massive job loss if the government does not act timely.

They made the call in reaction to airline operators’ demand for financial intervention amid the coronavirus crisis, insisting that road transport companies convey more Nigerians daily.

“APTCON employs more Nigerians than airline operators. Millions of citizens are making a living directly and indirectly. It is also the main mode of movement since the average Nigerian cannot afford to fly. If the sector suffers, it will affect every citizen.

“Our requests only cover organised companies that operate legitimate services, have a proper business structure and pay taxes. So, the government has no challenge identifying beneficiaries and channelling support to those who add to national revenue.

“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, we should be the first in line for the government’s financial support,” he stressed.
Gaddo said everyone knew that transport operators provide services to Nigerians under harsh conditions like bad roads, multiple taxations and other factors that cause high overhead expenses.

On the claim that transportation players no longer pay Value Added Tax (VAT), Gaddo declared it as false.

“Transportation is one of the non-oil drivers of the Nigerian economy and road transport provides the largest share. Beyond contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), we provide a nationwide network that ensures business and tourism flourish,” he said.

Noting that APTCON also supports growth in remote areas, the body urged policymakers to assist employers of labour, especially when coronavirus had affected countless businesses.

It will be recalled that Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON) had sought for a government stimulus packages and incentives to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry in Nigeria and by extension the domestic airlines. According to atqnews.com, these the AON says should include deliberate sourcing, loans, grants, tax waivers, special forex windows and rates, reduction of airport taxes or surcharges, and waivers.”

The AON also suggested that another option could be approving corporate bonds through the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), completely waiving some charges to guarantee the survival of airlines and avoid over 100,000 direct job losses post COVID-19.

”We are aware that Russia, US, Canada, Britain and some other countries have come up with one measure of support or another for their airlines and Nigeria will not be at default if it looks at options of supporting the aviation industry.”

”The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) remains the ONLY airline operators still paying VAT on commercial air transportation, which is not obtainable anywhere in the world. We have said this countless times that the VAT is adversely affecting the sector by subtly reducing the number of those who can afford air travel due to high fares, and in view the impact that this pandemic will have on the economy, the VAT will continue to be an increased burden on Nigerian travelers. The AON therefore calls for the immediate implementation of VAT removal in line with global best practices”.

“Air transport is a huge contributor to the GDP of Nigeria, and we are appealing to the Federal government to urgently consider the intervention to assist airlines at this difficult time.”

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