How improved transport sector can accelerate national development, by Oyeyemi
Nigeria’s economic development goals may remain a mirage if planned efforts are not stepped up to drastically tackle infrastructure gap in the transport sector, Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, Boboye Oyeyemi has said.
Given its multiplier effects, Oyeyemi said that transportation deserves special treatment in order to enhance the attainment of national development in the country.
In a paper titled “Transportation as Catalyst for National Development: The Nigerian Experience”, delivered at the yearly conference of the Association of Nigerian Geographers in Lagos, Oyeyemi said: “Effective management of the transport system to purposeful intermodal communication and regulatory framework would make transport a catalyst for national development and not a problem as we face in some parts of Nigeria.
“Other interconnecting modes are operating less than optimum levels thus making the road transport system unimodal with over 90 per cent of domestic freight and passengers. The over-reliance on road transport means that bulk cargoes being borne by heavy goods vehicles are contributing disproportionately to damaging the road network and significantly increasing overall road maintenance costs which in itself impedes national development”.
Though there are currently about five transport bills and policy before the National Assembly including the National Transport Commission Bill (2015); the National Roads Fund Bill; the Federal Roads Authority Bill; the Nigeria Ports and Harbour Authority Bill (2015); the National Inland Waterways Authority Bill (2015); and the Nigerian Railway Authority Bill (2015) seeking to harness potentials in the sector, Oyeyemi stressed that only integrated transport system within the framework of a progressive and competitive market economy would facilitate the sector’s contribution to nation’s development.
According to him, the way forward is proper regulation and setting of safety standards in the aviation industry with more airline investments, thus leading to higher safety levels and affordable flights to discourage long distance travel by road.
He urged government to revisit the designs of most road networks in the country with a view to making amends that would discourage congestion and build up Mass Transit schemes like the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) across major cities in Nigeria to reduce the number of vehicles on the road per time.
“The main driver of the economy which leads to national development is transportation. When transport volume increases, it is a pointer to a growing economy as the per capita value rises, purchasing power increases, so it translates to increased motorization”,
Oyeyemi, who insisted that the relegated status of the water transport, high cost of air transport and abandonment of Nigerian Railways led to over-dependence on road transport, said good transport system is essential to support economic growth and development.
He said the country’s ineffective road network, which has continued to lead to road traffic congestion, will continue to impair negatively on health, mobility and man-hours if not tackled.
Oyeyemi said: “The loss of human capital through avoidable road traffic crash must be stopped.”
“When Nigeria becomes an economic giant by 2020, the estimated 40 million vehicles that will drive on Nigerian roads would impact significantly on increased number of containers and tankers on the highways.
“We project that the current, 5,000 tankers transporting 150 million litters of fuel daily, would by 2020, require about 20,000 tankers and trailers to transport haulage across the country as we would have become an economic giant.
“This therefore means that as more tankers and trailers leave the ports with fuel and containers, the collective impact they will have on traffic congestion especially on roads along the ports, particularly the Apapa – Oshodi and Lagos–Ibadan Expressways can only be imagined, except urgent and practical public policies are formulated to mitigate the envisaged impacts, even where the roads are expanded,” he stated.