Mr. Simon Iliya Gotom is the General Manager/CEO of Bluewhales Group of Companies. He spoke recently to our Correspondent, JIDAUNA YANUNG on so many issues. He also disclosed that Bluewhales Transport Company has rolled out packages for its customers as the year comes to an end. Excerpts:
Can you give us details about Bluewhales Group of Companies?
Yes, I am happy about that because, it gladdens my heart to tell the story of Bluewhales companies, especially the transport sector. It also gives me pleasure to tell the vision and mission of the company anytime I am being asked about it.
The name Bluewhales was founded by me and my duty is to ensure that the dream is brought to life.
Bluewhales Transport is formed as a result of the challenges being faced as a result of scarcity of commercial vehicles plying Abuja-Jos, especially at that time it was only one Transport Company that was plying Abuja-Jos which is called Plateau Riders then other few vehicles (Vectra or Opel were plying too).
What really pushed us to bring this dream to life was when I lost my sibling to an accident (through reckless driving). So, this incident even pushed us the more to make the dream a reality and from day one to date, safety has always been our watchword.
Another thing is that Bluewhales would continued to maintained its standard by God’s grace and our doors are widely open for any suggestion that will make us improve more for our customers.
We are also open for customers views because they are the reasons we exists and we come because we want to offer safe trip for transportation and we are proud of our customers and also try our best to give them safety as they want and nothing but the best. So we are partners in progress, we have so many things to do together.
Bluewhales has come to stay, how would you assess the Journey so far?
Well, so far so good, praise be to God. I cannot say we are doing badly or good. You can see it yourself, at least if you travel with our buses, then you will be able to asses us. We are trying our best to live up to the expectations of the founding members. We also trust in God and whatever we are doing in the company we put God first and we trust that He will not let us down.
Another thing is that we take our staff welfare seriously. Issue of training of our staff, we also take it seriously. Just last year, we took 10 of our drivers to the Road Safety Training School where they spend one week on how to drive and relate with passengers among others.
So, to answer this question straight, I will say it has been interesting because at every step you have much to learn, customers are always rights.
Sometimes to convey the dream of the founders to the passengers is difficult because, we have individual differences and everybody has his way of reasoning, but we on our part have always tried our best to ensure that all staff of Bluewhales live above board to make the dreams of the company come true.
One thing we always encourage is what we call “customers’ feedback” so that we will know where we have gone wrong so that we can correct it, that is why in each buses, there are telephone lines there and we pick calls immediately those numbers call because of the importance attach to it.
In fact, I try to pick calls personally on the lines to ensure that we identify gaps and put them into the system. It is tough but we are working in progress, and there is room for improvement and I want to emphasize here again that, we are open to all advice, criticism and suggestion among others to our customers and any other person that do business with us.
Can you say that the company has lived up to your expectations since inception?
I think I will answer this question by saying that yes, but there is so much room for improvement. We try to engage stakeholders, customers, the media and all other people to ensure that we work as a team. We are very objective and our doors are widely open for improvement by working together and listening to public opinion. I want to use this medium to commend our customers and the general public for the cordial relationship between us over the years and I pray that the spirit of this cooperation continues.
This is the second month of the ember months, what are your plans to your customers as the year comes to an end?
It is always a delight when it comes to ember months like this. This is a period we always look forward to. First and foremost, we always trained our drivers towards it which we have already had.
Ember months, I want to emphasized is very important because it is characterize with massive movement of people and as you know, some road users are always very careful, while others are not, so different characters ply the roads, so, we trained our drivers and make them fall among the careful ones. Though we have our speed limits, but in this period I want our customers to be patient with us because we cannot change from our speed limit.
Bluewhales always liaise with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) when it comes to a period like this. We also participate in their ember-months campaign as well as provide roads signs among others in some points.
Another thing is that, we have managers or informants in some villages along the road who always monitor our drivers or keep us posted about developments on the road. They sometimes wear our uniforms or sometimes in private and they are indigenes of the village they reside.
Sometimes we stop over in some villages and offer a little assistance. For example, we stopped over at Tahos in Riyom Local Government and donated items to new babies in a clinic there. So all these things we don’t tell people or make it known to the publicly.
Again, we participate in all activities of the Federal Road Safety Commission, especially along the Abuja-Jos road. We wish to engage all other road users between Abuja to Jos and other parts of the country to make our roads safe for passengers.
December is very much around the corner and we have already mapped out strategies to ensure that we have a hitch-free transport services to our customers. We don’t have much to give them, but we want to guarantee them hitch-free journeys, excellence services with no extra charges, and that is our hall mark. Bluewhales has come to stay, and as part of the strategies we have put in place for better services, we have just moved to a new location to ensure that our customers have a place to relax while waiting for their turn or the buses. So, in essence, it is our desire to offer convenience for our customers.
In the new park, opposite Silverbird, customers can sit in a hall, browse with free internet, and watch television, even as they take snacks while waiting.
In all, I wish to commend Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State for giving us the enabling environment to operate, may God continued to reward him and give him more wisdom to continue to rule the people of the state. I wish to thank the General Manager, Plateau Riders, Mr. Linus for the great assistance and advice to us in Bluewhales, and lastly to my staff, I said bravo to you all.