Metro & Crime

Post COVID-19: Lagos Commissioners, others seek improved transport sector

 

Kayode Olanrewaju

For the country and Lagos State in particular to get away from the adverse impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy, especially the transport sector, there is the urgent need to rejig the sector through massive investments and improve funding by the government to reduce transport on cost of goods, New Telegraph has learnt.
There is also a call on the Lagos State government to look more on how public transport could be subsidized, as well as to move the sector from informal to formal in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
The call was made by transport experts on Tuesday during 12th Lagos State University (LASU) Virtual Public Lecture, organised by the School of Transportation and Logistics of the university.
The lecture with the theme: “Staying Safe Against Covid-19 in Public and Private Transportation,” was held online via webinar Zoom platform, moderated by the Dean, School of Transport, Prof. Gbadebo Odewumi.
Lagos Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Fredrick Oladeinde was the Special Guest, while the speakers were former Lagos Commissioner for Transportation and Executive Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Apapa Traffic, Dr. Kayode Opeifa; Dr. Andre Kreie, Director Global Logistic Education, Kuhne Foundation in Switzerland; Mr. Oulwadamilola Emmanuel, Managing Director, Lagos State Waterway Authority (LASWA); and Dr. Ogochukwu Ugboma of Department of Transport Management and Operation, LASU School of Transport.
Setting the tone of the discourse, Oladeinde, however, noted that the shortage of armed security personnel in the state was responsible for the low level of enforcement of COVID-19 and other restrictions in the transportation sector, saying there was the need for individuals to take personal responsibility for their safety against the spread of the virus.
He said: “We are aware that the present informal structure of transportation in the state is not sustainable. So we are working to make it more formal such that the government will be fully in charge of running the sector. One of the imports of this is that the yellow buses will be phased out and replaced with modern buses. The danfo drivers are already forming themselves into cooperatives in order to partner us on this.
“The major challenge we have with enforcement is that our security operatives are inadequate and overstretched. Many of the policemen who should ordinarily be enforcing the restrictions have been transferred to states in the North where we have major security challenges.
“But, we tried to mitigate this by mobilising our security and safety agencies such as Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Corps, LASTMA and others to fill in that gap. Though, we should also realise that they don’t carry arms, so their effectiveness is limited.”
On his part, Opeifa, who pointed out that “effective transportation is key to productivity and economic growth, however, said that mobility and logistics, as well as supply chain management sector remain one of the most hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, because transport sector is the major endemic sector most affected worldwide according to the World Trade Organisation and NBS 2020 reports.
He noted that the burden of increase in transport fare across cities could be traced to increase in the cost of goods and services, as an indirect result of the change in prices due to the informal nature of the sector.
They, therefore, called on the government to improve world and national transport indices by ensuring safe, efficient and reliable air, road and water transportation, and urged the government to revisit the Presidential Report of 2014 on National Policy on Mass Transit in Nigeria.
The former Commissioner, who argued that the N10 billion bailout funds to operators of the sector was grossly inadequate and called for more bailout, also urged the Federal Government to increase subsidy to the sector, as well as release and implement a report of the review of the Nigeria Automotive Policy of 2014.
This was as Dr. Ogochuckwu flayed a situation where many Lagosians flagrantly disregard the guidelines and restrictions put in place by the state government to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the transportation sector.
But, to address this, the don suggested that the burden is on the government to intensify public education and awareness, while individuals should take personal responsibility by wearing face masks, use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers in public transport, and to avoid consumption of food and drinks in public transport.

 

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