Why national transport policy is imperative for Nigeria, by stakeholders
Stakeholders have harped on the need for Nigeria to develop a sustainable national integrated transport policy. They said such integrated national policy would serve as a catalyst to the overall development of the country. The stakeholders comprising legal experts in transport and maritime sector as well as other industry professionals made this known at a roundtable discussion on “national transport policy – an imperative for Nigeria” organised by Foundation Chambers at the weekend to mark its 20th anniversary and the 70th birthday of the firm’s senior partner and founder, Mr. Chidi Ilogu (SAN).
The event moderator and the former managing director of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mrs Mfon Usoro said there is an existing draft policy on national transport policy. She explained that the document is an integrated policy that followed the best practices in developed countries. “It is an integrated policy and bedrock of that document was coordination. It followed the developed countries models. It is a very comprehensive document with modes and milestones for the achievement of the modes.
“It has gone through several stakeholders hearing and was agreed that it has to go to the Federal Executive Council. It will require some push to make government to do the right thing because if we don’t get it right with transportation, it will impact on our economy.
According to her, the market forces will favour other African countries if we don’t fix our transport policy especially with the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (Afcta). She stated that the transport sector needed a private economic regulator as well as the national assembly enactment to make it an Act.
There are recommendations in the national transportation policy, she revealed that requires legislative input. Her words: “This include the existence of the commission. It is a policy document and policy is a guideline. Policies are flexible and can be changed easily without needing to amend any act. It is just a mere guideline. The essence of the national integrated transport policy is to ensure that relevant bodies and ministries agree on the implementation of any aspect of the policy.”
The celebrant, Ilogu (SAN) said transport sector is so critical to Nigeria economy. “We come up with beautiful documents but lack the will to use them. We must consciously take steps to ensure that this becomes a reality because if we dont, other West Africans will leave us behind. We must encourage government to be serious with what we are facing today,” he advised.
But the former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi said Nigeria will never get it right until she does something about the political class. “If we get to those people who are going to implement the policy, whether by legislation or by consensus, we must let them know that it must be done selflessly without any primordial interest. We will never be able to get it right, unless we pay great attention to the rail and the roads because they help us to move within the country easily while the air and maritime helps to connect us to the outside world,” he stated.
Also, Aviation consultant, Mr. Chris Aligbe said need for a national transport policy is very important. Every government agency, he said should be able to know it’s role in the policy. Aligbe said it is time for states and regional governments to begin to think of interlinkng their locations with a railway line.
“I will be surprised if the national transport policy passes through. Constitutional rights of the component bodies, inconsistency and rivalries should be addressed for us to get it right,” he suggested. Speakers included Maritime law expert, Mr. Lious Mbanefo (SAN), the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, represented by Mrs. Eniola Williams among others.