•Say NURTW leaders are collecting revenue due to govt
•Small operators could go bankrupt
Transportation is a vital component of human activity; experts have argued that the sector can contribute about 10 per cent to the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) if the right policies are put in place to drive the sector. PAUL OGBUOKIRI reports
Transportation sector to Gross Domestic Product
Nigeria’s transportation sector contribution to Nigeria’s GDP increased to $720.241 million in the third quarter of 2019 from $642.927 million in the second quarter of 2019 and contributed 2.49 per cent to nominal GDP in first quarter of 2019, an increase from 1.85 per cent recorded in the corresponding period of 2018, higher than 2.05 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018.
According to the President of Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), Isaac Uhunmwagh, if the sector is given it pride of place in the economy, its contribution to the GDP would rise to 10 per cent.
He said the importance of the sector as the gateway to the economy of nations cannot be over-emphasised, especially because transportation is an essential service needed all over the world to move passengers, goods and services with safety and security as its fundamental objective in delivering quality service.
He said that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has opened a huge gap in the sector and it needs to be closed urgently because of Nigeria’s poor transportation system which is not well regulated and monitored.
He lamented that the use of motor bikes, tricycle, poor transport infrastructures and lack of modern transport technological system in driving the sector, lack of modern transport policies, very little or no attention by the government to the sector, lack of professionalism in the sector are some of the areas with gaps that needs to be closed for maximum efficiency, repositioning and growth of the sector.
“The existing gaps in our nation’s transportation systems before the coronavirus pandemic has further widened because of the pandemic and so the government needs to begin strategizing towards taking urgent steps to close the wide gap created, because of the need of steady supply of food, medical supplies, emergency goods with minimal delays or restrictions needed and other essential services needed to maintain a balance in the nation’s supply chain networks for the sustenance of life and the economy.
Similarly, a chartered logistics and transportation analyst, Mr. Alex Okosun said that the response of mobility service providers (MSP’S) to COVID-19 after the lifting of the ban of restrictions on movement should create a new culture in the nation’s transport system, especially on ways of managing the right blend of mobility options through adopting modern methods of transportation.
He said that if we are really serious in building a more diversified economy and transport sector, there is need to put in place the right infrastructure for the sector to thrive and meaningfully to the growth of the economy. He stated that though the Nigerian economy depend on the mobility industry for goods and services to reach all the nooks and crannies of the country, the sector is not yet contributing enough to the GDP.
According to him, there is need to create higher standards especially in our public transport systems where there are currently little or no standards of monitoring, managing and regulating the system by the government.
Dr. O. O. Agunloye of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos, stated that the government gives very little or no attention to the sector, “this is evident in the amount allocated to the sector in our annual budget at the national, state and local government levels.”
He said: “People with little or no formal training are left to run and manage the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) an independent Nigerian trade union serving the interests of transport workers in the road transport sector, who are supposed to be calling for collective obtaining and pushing of social stability for all workers in the transport sector as defined in its constitution.” He said the Union has now been turned into an organisation of extorting money from passengers, oppressing passengers and also other genuine investors.
According to him the sector cannot grow under the present circumstances where the revenue that should have accrued to the government is going into the pockets of union leaders.
Public transport owners lost N200 bn to inter-state travel ban
Meanwhile, members of Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), said that they lost over N200 billion following the over 12-week ban on inter-state travels by the Federal Government.
Indeed, the Association also decried additional loss of about 400 human lives, and another 35 per cent recorded cases of now collapsed businesses due to the ban. President of PTONA, Isaac Uhunmwagho, who gave the figures at a press conference in Lagos, pleaded that the ban on inter- state transportation be lifted as soon as possible.
According to Uhunmwagho, the issue of ban on inter-state transportation is something that affects everyone, and called on the government to come to the aid of the transportation industry.
He said that PTONA had already written their plea for financial assistance and palliatives to the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), headed by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo.
He also appealed that government should ensure that Nigerians complied with the guidelines and protocols that will be introduced for long-distance travels, as well as abide by all other COVID-19 rules and regulation.
He warned that some operators will go bankrupt, the transporter equally advised government to extend financial support to the sector to forestall owners transferring the entire burden to the commuters, whose purchasing power has already dropped significantly on account of rising inflation and the effects of COVID-19.
Need for a transport policy to boost development
For Nigeria to achieve effective intermodal transportation there is a need for government to implement a transport policy that will guide development in the country.
Nigeria faced transport infrastructural decay characterised by inadequate maintenance, poor service delivery, monopoly of transport enterprises, poor road maintenance, and the precarious state of rail and maritime sub-sectors.
Some of the shortcomings identified in the nation’s transport system include: the absence of a template or national transport policy for multi-modal integration and coordination, poor policy control where such policies exist, disintegration of rail for both intra and inter urban travels, mass transit, inland waterways, and poor inter-connectivity.
“My take is that there must be in place a Transport policy that will guide the sequence of development. Secondly, a local capacity should be encouraged for Transport infrastructure construction and maintenance,” said Prof. Callistus Ibe of the Department Transport Management, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
Ibe said the Inland waterways must be developed and be made functional; adding that for intermodal transport to happen there must be a practical railway and inland waterways. The road mode would then connect all for seamless integration and intermodal development, and must be accompanied with a deliberate policy on intermodal transport.
“So far, rail development is receiving the desired attention. It must be connected with seaports and airports and stadia for effective development,” he said.
For Professor of Transportation and Logistics Planning, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Iyiola Oni, a nation’s transport development is her capacity to deliver a responsive, affordable, accessible, reliable, efficient, safe, structurally coordinated and integrated transport system for the benefit of all.
To achieve this, Oni said the transport sector should be capable of meeting the needs of a modern, competitive, industrial economy and livelihood.