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Stakeholders seek policy reforms for road transport administration

By Benjamin Alade and Adelowo Adebumiti
10 December 2021   |   3:28 am
Academics and experts in the transportation sector have rallied behind the Federal Government on the need for policy reforms to revolutionise the sector for efficiency and self-sustainability.

Academics and experts in the transportation sector have rallied behind the Federal Government on the need for policy reforms to revolutionise the sector for efficiency and self-sustainability.

They also urged the government to constitute a road authority to oversee its affairs.

They made the call at the maiden Road Sector Committee webinar, organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration.

The speakers were unanimous that there is need for a revolutionary approach to the administration of road transport in the country, stressing that the sector is a goldmine waiting to be tapped.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Challenges and opportunities of road transportation in Nigeria,’ former Dean, School of Transport and Logistics, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewumi, said Nigerian road inventory showed that the country has about 194, 200km of roads, made up of 34,179.20km of federal, which is 17 per cent, 30, 489.40km of states, constituting 16 per cent, and 129, 531.40km of local government roads at 67 per cent.

He noted that the country’s roads, which are responsible for over 90 per cent of movements of goods and people, are neglected economic cornerstones, where nobody is in charge.

Odewumi observed that air has aviation and airport authority, while railway, port, and water transports have their own authorities responsible for the sub-sector, but “there is no designated one for roads”.

Odewumi added that road maintenance in Nigeria is done on ad-hoc basis, with funding episodic and epileptic, research non-existent and transportation ministry seemly consigned to rail and water.

Other challenges include stealing of assets, ticket racketing, and lack of maintenance culture among others.

He, however, noted that just like the Nigeria Port Authority is a stupendous revenue-generating agency, road authority could match or surpass it if properly organised. He added that government should research on how much National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), and others are collecting as revenue.

He called for better synergy between ministries of work and transport, noting that opportunities abound that remain untapped in the sector.

The university teacher said government could make money from road user charges, vehicle registration tax, vehicle import taxes, and driver licenses, taxes on lubricants and additives and on consumable spare parts.

Odewumi added that government must recognise local road maintenance volunteers and formalise their activities. He said further that government at all levels should award a given distance (10-20kms) to citizens to patch and maintain for a token monthly, saying this would provide jobs and reduce rate of deterioration of the road.

He advocated local production of road materials and labour intensive low-tech road construction and maintenance.

Odewumi added that government must take steps to ensure security and safety, provide drones, continuous patrols, free towing, free ambulances, accidents rescue, transit lodgings, restaurants, transit parks and tour guides to reposition management of roads in the country.

Chairman, Education and Training, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Department of Transport, Prof. Calistus Ibe, lamented that transport is the most unregulated sector in the country.

According to him, some of the factors affecting road management include multiplicity of authorities with unions reigning supreme, while road networks remain highly congested, thereby reducing productivity and negatively affecting people’s health.

Council Director, Transport Planning and Coordination, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Mercy Ilori, canvassed improved synergy among the stakeholders to transform the sector.

A zonal commander in FRSC, Hyginus Omeje, said the sector is in need of a transport policy to regulate it.