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Published On: Tue, Aug 18th, 2015

Peace Mass Transit: From a  seed to a mighty tree

Peace Mass Transit

 

Irrespective of the poor state of most Nigerian roads, road has remained the commonest means of transportation in the country.

With the potential prospects in the sector, it is not surprising that commercial transport in Nigeria is  dominated by the private sector.
One of the new generation Mass Transit companies working hard for a reasonable market share in this highly competitive industry is the Peace Mass Transit Group, a company solely owned by a foremost transport mogul, Dr Maduka Onyishi.

 
From a very difficult beginning, of owning and operating only two buses as an  undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Dr Onyishi has always remained grateful to God for giving him the strength, courage and wisdom to succeed in the business.
The Peace Mass Transit boss, recalled that with a deep sense of humility and commitment, he was engaging himself as a part time driver after lecture hours at UNN, so he can make money to pay his school fees and support his mother in training his younger ones, since they became fatherless at very tender ages.
But as luck would have it and by the special grace of God, he was able to buy seven other buses before his graduation from the university. Consequently, at a time his mates were preparing for an already saturated labour market, Dr Onyishi was already an employer of labour while as a student,  engaging some commercial drivers in driving his buses, as the fortune from the initial two buses increased.
He never disengaged himself from the system, even when it became abundantly clear to him that he has made it in life and would have joined the class of ‘Big Boys’ in the campus. Findings reveal that Dr Onyishi over two decades venture in commercial transport  has risen him from star to stardom.
He presently has over three thousand buses under his transport company, shuttling and covering about 26states of the federation on daily basis. Hallmark gathered that over four thousand Nigerians are directly engaged by the Peace Mass Transit  company.
And many other thousands of Nigerians, indirectly make a living from the activities of Peace Mass Transit. For instance, the various food vendors and hawkers, locating by the sides of the forty terminals /motor parks established by the company in various parts of
the country, the Vulcanizers, Motor spare parts dealers have benefitted immensely from the company’s operations.
Also, Dr Onyishi believes in enhancing welfare packages of his employees as a strategy of encouraging a harmonious working relationship and getting better results from the workers. Hallmark’s checks reveal that even though a private company, the members of staff are pensionable on retirement.
But Chief Onyishi has gone the extra mile to devise a good retirement package for drivers who wish to stay long in his company and offer meritorious service. Out of his godly nature, he has mandatorily made it an annual ritual to retire drivers, who have served his company for a period of fifteen years with a gift of fairly used buses. Hallmark gathered that twelve drivers benefitted from the 2015 retirement benefit of the company, at a glamorous occasion held, about a fortnight ago in Enugu.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr Onyishi stated, “As a company ,we decided to have our pension arrangement where out of love we gave a fairly used bus to drivers after fifteen years of service. These retiring drivers are leaving because of age as well as long service.
“We had to do this because we think that given the safety need of passengers on transit., we feel that if a driver has hope that after 15 years in the company, he will be going home with fairly used bus of his own, that hope can keep the person alive and make the person take precaution as he does his driving job. The driver will not want to jeopardize his chances of receiving a bus at the end of his 15 years in the company.
“Also, we are not just here to make money as a company, we are here to make money and sustain the business and also to serve our people.
So, after someone has worked with us for 15 years, we think that we should be able to say thank you, that’s an extra pay anyway but since we can afford it, why shouldn’t we do it.
“It’s service to God, service to humanity. This is my community, this is my state, when you are no longer there, what will you be remembered for, apart from those little things you did for people.”
“The PMT boss disclosed further disclosed, ‘We are working with a premium pension but the drivers are not part of it because drivers are not regular staff, they are free entry, free exit staff, they come in
today, six weeks they are gone.
“So when you see a driver who can stay with you for 15 years, I mean it’s worth celebrating. That’s why we are here. It’s not easy to have drivers, who stay with you for five years, then when you talk about 10 to 15 years, it’s something remarkable, it’s not very common.
“You can see we have only 12 of them leaving, some for long term service and some for old age, when we have thousands of drivers. Ordinarily, we should have about 40 to 50 every year but they find it difficult to stay, and when we see those few who stayed, we celebrate them.”
Also speaking on the gesture, the public relations officer of the company Mr. Asogwa Joseph said, “There was no formal agreement between the company and the retiree drivers at the point of recruitment that there will be any form of severance benefit on retirement. This gesture was made possible through
the volition and philanthropic disposition of the chairman, Peace Group, Dr Sam Maduka Onyishi.”
The recipients’ joy knew no bounds. One of them, Mr. Christopher Ozoiko said, ”No doubt, this gesture has provided me a means of livelihood. As drivers, we wished and hoped to own our buses some day. That day has eventually come through the magnanimity of our boss.”
“The gesture will serve as an encouragement to serving drivers to be diligent and apply safety while driving to enable them attain the benchmark of benefitting from the largesse. Other land transport company’s should equally emulate this gesture as drivers are not regular staff of these companies’.
Another beneficiary, Mr Ezugwu Jonas said, “I have driven for this company for 13 years but in all I have spent 25 years on the road as a driver. It is only God that will reward Chief Maduka Onyishi for his goodness and help to the poor. I have never believed it will be possible, but look at me now, I am a bus owner. He is different from other transport companies or mass transits.
“I have never seen where this is done, where drivers are sent off with a bus of their own, not even on hire purchase. It has never happened. It is commendable. It is remarkable and must be encouraged. I was able to serve the company all these years to qualify for this gift because I was diligent and dedicated to my duty.”
Some other Nigerians who also responded to the gesture described it as another standard in the commercial transport sector and urged other transporters to borrow a leaf from Dr. Onyisi.
But for Dr Onyishi, it is not yet Uhuru. He is aiming at establishing more terminals of the Peace Mass Transit across the remaining ten states of the federation, as part of his efforts to ease transport problem of most Nigerians even as he explores the coasts of West Africa. He has also enlarged the conglomerate of Peace Group to Peace Quick Response Insurance Brokers, Peace Petroleum ltd, Peace Micro finance bank, Peace Express service ltd, Peace Capital Market ltd, Peace Bureau De change, Peace Aviation services etc.
Even as the sky appears to be his in his quest for expansion, Dr Onyishi still believes there are still obstacles. The greatest challenge for him remains the fact that he makes the money in naira and spends them in dollars, as payment for the motor parts, including tyres are in foreign currency, even as the naira has continued to depreciate against the dollar.

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