COVID-19: Stakeholders chart path to safe public, private transportation
Stakeholders have stressed the need for Nigerians, especially commuters, to take personal responsibility for their lives following the new normal of transportation post-pandemic.
Participants at the 12th Lagos State University (LASU) virtual public lecture organised by its School of Transportation and Logistics, titled: “Staying safe against COVID-19 in public and private transportation,” decried the low level of enforcement and government procedures in tackling the virus.
Worried about the poor state of infrastructure in the sector, they called on government and public transport regulators to address issues of affordability, inclusiveness, social inequality, and fare hikes within the sector.
Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde, attributed the low level of enforcement of COVID-19 and other restrictions in the transportation sector to shortage of security personnel in the state.
This, he said, has made it imperative for individuals to take personal responsibility for their safety against the spread of the disease, adding that the government was making efforts to reform the state public transportation system.
“When the pandemic started, we put in place guidelines and restrictions to ensure the safety of commuters in the state. We initially started enforcing these restrictions by arresting those who flout the law. But considering the economic hardship following the pandemic, we decided that rather than arrest offenders, we would embark on massive sensitisation, and that is why you see that the state is doing a lot in that area.
“The major challenge we have with enforcement is that our security operatives are inadequate and stretched. 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.
“We tried to mitigate this by mobilising our security and safety agencies such as Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, LASTMA, and others to fill in that gap. But you know they don’t carry arms, so their effectiveness is limited. I think that it is important for people to take personal responsibility for their safety. The government will do its part, but ultimately the people have to protect themselves.”
He disclosed that the presence of yellow buses, popularly known as danfo, on Lagos roads would soon be over, as government was taking steps to reform the transportation sector in line with global best practices.
Executive Vice Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Apapa Traffic, Kayode Opeifa, had earlier called on the state government to subsidise public transportation to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
Opeifa said: “There is also a need for a bailout. If we do not do a bailout now, the transport sector will continue to contract. Cost of producing goods will increase, and manufacturing will decline.
“The N10billion that has been approved is grossly inadequate. Consider the aviation sector alone; it needs N10billion as well. The Lagos State Government has done the best thing which is allowing Primero to survive and so many other things by releasing more buses on the road.”
He urged the government to improve world and national transport indices by ensuring safe, efficient and reliable air, road and water transportation, and to revisit the Presidential Report of 2014 on National Policy on Mass Transit in Nigeria, while releasing and implementing a report on the review of the Nigeria Automotive Policy of 2014.
Speaking on COVID-19 challenges and adaptation in global logistics and supply chains, Director, Global Logistics Education, Kuhne Foundation, Dr. Andre Kreie, noted that given the global disruption in logistics and supply chain management around the world, new strategies must be developed to strengthen the industry.
He added that with these efforts, the future supply chain will focus stronger on resilience, while digitalization will make the supply chain stronger, as global sourcing prevails. As diversification of local/regional options increases, more logistics and supply chain management (LSCM) graduates and professionals will be required.
Also speaking, the General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, said the Agency has adopted safety measures to ensure that Lagosians, who commute using the waterways, were not at risk of contracting the Covid-19 disease.
In her presentation titled, “Staying Safe in Public and Private Transportations in Lagos State,” Dr. Ogochuckwu Ugboma of the School of Transport and Logistics, LASU, decried the situation where many Lagosians flagrantly disregard guidelines and restrictions put in place by the state government to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the transportation sector.
She said fighting a pandemic is not a standalone project; as integration with existing crisis management structures is strategic, adding that the government needs to own and implement a post-COVID-19 safety architecture for transport service delivery.
The 12th LASU Virtual Public Lecture was moderated by the Dean, School of Transportation and Logistics, Prof. Samuel Odewumi, with the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, as the chief host.
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