Nigerian bus scheme will boost local assemblers

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Country tries to cushion effects of fuel subsidy removal

NIGERIA In an attempt to soften the blow of the country’s fuel subsidy removal, Nigerian vehicle assembly plants are to supply around 6,000 buses for the new urban mass transit scheme set up by the Federal Government.

Nigerian Automotive Manufacturers Association executive director, Arthur Madueke, said the new bus deal was sealed in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, last Thursday, during a meeting between the assembly plants and the Federal Government team, led by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga.

President Goodluck Jonathan launched the mass transit scheme with 1,100 buses on January 8, some of which were imported.

He had earlier approved N15bn for the commencement of the scheme.

Madueke confirmed 50% of the first set of vehicles for the scheme will be obtained locally, mainly from Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company in Nnewi, Kano-based National Truck Manufacturer and Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company in Enugu.

“By March, we should be able to supply 2,000 buses to the scheme; and at the end of the second quarter, we promise to deliver between 5,000 and 6,000 buses,” he said.

The NAMA director said most of the assembly plants were currently running on a single shift, adding that with guaranteed extra support, they could run two or three shifts.

He stressed the need for bus operators to carry out routine maintenance of the vehicles with the local assembly plants or their accredited workshops.

“The maintenance cost will be at affordable rates; this will be part of the deal; we don’t want a situation where the vehicles will be mismanaged or poorly maintained and will end up giving the manufacturers/local assembly plants a negative image,” he said.

Previously, Madueke said the existing 12 vehicle assembly plants located in different parts of the country with a combined capacity of 150,000 vehicles annually, were currently producing at about 10% of their installed capacity.

The country has recently been in turmoil after the fuel subsidy removal. With a large proportion of the population on strike, the country has been brought to a standstill.