The Managing Director of Primero Transport Service Limited, Mr Fola Tinubu has revealed that the company is doing everything to scale down its spending on procuring spare parts for its buses abroad by establishing an Assembly Plant in the country.
The transportation company is also planning to look inwardly by manufacturing some of its bus parts locally.
Tinubu made this revelation while speaking during a session on the Ikorodu Division Youth Initiative Movement’s (IDYIM) online platform on Saturday, May 23, 2020, where he responded to various questions posed by moderators of the session and participants on the platform.
Mr Seun Elesho and Mr Lekan Aroyewun, both youths leader in korodu Division, moderated the interesting session .
“We are in the process of establishing an assembly plant here to start to assemble buses and also make some parts locally. That’s why it’s so painful that people are not seeing the big picture”, Primero Managing Director said.
“The company has been running its business with imported buses and parts”.
He also denied laying off any of the company’s staff due to recent challenges being faced by the company, especially the one posed by the ravaging COVID – 19 which has prevented the company from carryng passengers to full capacity in compliance with physical distancing directive by the government.
He clarified that they were only asked to go on unpaid leave.
“We have not laid off a single staff, what we did was asked them to go on unpaid leave while we resolve our issues with LASG. We had to do this to ensure the survivability of the company”, he said.
Mr Tinubu also denied that the Lagos State Government has ever donated any bus to the company, stating that the 430 buses bought by the company at the inception of its operation are still the number it is operating with. He, however, described the claim as gimmick by the Mr Akinwunmi Ambode’s government.
“Lagos State has never donated any bus to our company, it was a gimmick by the previous administration. We started with 430 buses and we still have 430 buses”, he stated during the session.
The Primero Managing Director also stated that it is possible to achieve what is obtainable in advanced countries where passengers can get to bus terminals at convenient time to board buses which has been scheduled for a particular time.
Though, he described deregulation of the economy, especially BRT sector, in the state as political decision meant for those in government to decide, but added that the present situation of the economy system is not working.
“It can definitely happen here, but all of these things cost money, the commuters don’t want an increase in fares, the government does not subsidise, where is the money to pay for all of these will come from. We all want world class services but nobody wants to pay for them. There’s no free lunch anywhere.
“This is a political decision that the politicians need to make. My job is to ensure the viability of Primero. The politicians need to decide if we want to go to full deregulation or whatever model they want. But the present system is not working and is not sustainable. Unless we want to go for danfo mode of public transport”.
Speaking on the effects of the lockdown which is part of the government measure to prevent Coronavirus from spreading on the operations of the BRT, Tinubu said that it has reduced Primero’s revenue by 60 per cent.
“The biggest problem for us is that we have been asked to reduce the number of people on our buses from 70 to 20, this has affected our revenue negatively because our cost of operations remains the same.
“The reduction in passengers numbers has seen our revenue go down by over 60 percent.
While responding to question on failure to maintain physical distancing at BRT terminals, he said that:
“The bus stops were not designed for physical distancing, and because during rush hour, a lot of people show up at the same time. The key is to deploy more buses and move them as quickly as possible to reduce the number of people and waiting time.
“But unfortunately we are now using 3 buses to do what one bus will do because of restriction of people we can carry. So we are in a dilemma here.
“We have suggested to Lagos State Government that we need to go to 42 passengers per bus, open the windows, seating only and everyone should wear mask. If we do that, it will reduce the waiting time and also reduce the crowd” Tinubu said.