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Each year, Nigerians travel a cumulative distance that clocks in the millions of kilometres. That’s partly due to the physical vastness of the country, and the fact that its people have to get around quite a bit. The long stretches they cover and the frequency with which they do so both point to one thing: there’s a big market for interstate travel in Nigeria.

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Numerous transport companies have emerged to take care of the long commutes that are typical of cross-country journeys. But Nigeria is such a large, thickly populated place; there’s always room for more players in this niche. So, if you’re thinking about getting involved in the interstate transport business, you should probably consider it more closely.

But there’s more to launching a transport business than just getting a bus and picking up passengers for your trips. If you’re going to succeed with it, you’ll have to plan your entry very carefully.

This article takes you through the steps you’ll need to take on the way to creating an interstate bus transport business that’ll fetch a handsome return on your investment.

Determine How Much Money You’ll Need To Start

You shouldn’t jump into this business until you’ve worked out the costs you’ll incur while building it from scratch. And you won’t get a good picture of what these costs are unless you know what resources you’ll be spending on, and what their market prices are.

Things you’ll want to consider are the type of bus (or buses) you’d like to start with (there’s more on this later), union membership dues, the routes you’ll cover, fueling costs, your website and/or ticketing platform, and your hiring costs and salaries, among others. Add the costs together to get a fair estimate of the amount of money you’re likely to spend while building the business.

Next, decide whether or not you’ll be able to foot the bills you’ve taken note of above. Are there any sources of finance you can leverage to cover those costs? Will the funding be sufficient? Don’t go on to launch unless you can take care of these things.

Decide What Route(s) You’ll Cover

There are a lot of travel routes in Nigeria. They don’t all promise the same amount of patronage, revenues, or security. That’s why you should be careful when choosing one (or any number of them) for your business.

We have already hinted at the factors you’ll want to consider when selecting your routes. But besides passenger traffic and security, you’ll also have to think about the variability of demand across seasons. Some routes have a lot more people travelling on them during the holidays (e.g. Christmas and New Year). Go for one that guarantees decent traffic throughout the year.

Purchase A Bus (or Buses)

You could either begin with one minibus or a few minibuses and scale your fleet as patronage of your business increases. This way, you’ll be able to implement your learning on the way as you grow.

If you’re launching out with a minibus, there are a number of options you might choose from. The more popular ones are the Toyota Coaster and Toyota Hiace; alternatively, you might settle for either the Nissan minibus or Piaggio minibus. There are options with large luxury buses too, but they are more expensive than the smaller buses.

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Sticking with the theme of costs, you could either go for a new vehicle or a used one (‘Tokunbo’). Used buses are less expensive and easier to acquire. But new buses could last longer if you take proper care of them.

Register Your Business

Like every other legitimate business, interstate transport companies have to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) if they’re going to be legally recognized entities. Registering with the CAC enables them to take legal action against parties that they are insignificant disagreement with.

Transport businesses also have to register with transport unions. The leading transport union in Nigeria is the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). This body has chapters in every state of the country.

Other registrations and fees may apply, depending on the locations in which your business is headquartered or has its branches.

Hire A Driver

Your driver needs to have some experience riding the route(s) you choose to ply. It’s just as important that they should be well mannered and honest. This is crucial because they’ll be using your vehicle(s) and interacting with your customers (passengers). They are your brand’s representatives, so you’ll need them to conduct themselves professionally.

Instead of hiring a driver, you may take on the task yourself. This is perhaps the best way to guarantee that your resources are protected and your passengers are treated fairly. Only do this if you’re ready to commit most of your time to the business. Interstate travel can’t be run as a side-hustle.

Commence Operations

You’ll be ready, to begin with, your transport business if you’ve done all the things we’ve already discussed. But don’t forget to market it as broadly and intensely as you can. You can do so on social media, your website, online business directories, and flyers and leaflets.

Offer exceptional service to the people who decide to ride with you. Doing so will make them want to travel in your vehicles in the future. They could also spread the word about your business to their contacts, who may also decide to use your services.

Final Words

Your interstate travel business can yield you decent profits if you take the right steps to set it up. We have discussed those steps here. Implement them, and you’ll build an enterprise that’s rock solid and does great numbers.

Featured Image Source: Wealth Result
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This article was first published on 15th March 2022


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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