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‘National transport policy to drive local, continental growth’

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AfCFTA

The Federal Government has said that the proposed National Transport Policy would unlock untapped potential in the sector and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agenda.

Minister of Transportation and his State counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi and Gbemisola Saraki, stated this in Abuja recently at the yearly ministerial press briefing session.

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Stakeholders had said that for Nigeria to achieve effective intermodal transportation there is a need for the government to implement a transport policy that would guide its development.

Amaechi said it was pertinent to note that no nation had been able to achieve its potential without an efficient and effective transportation system.

“We recognise this sacred responsibility as a ministry. The ministry and its agencies have, therefore, within budgetary limits, created additional infrastructure to improve our intermodal transport system, create jobs, and increase contribution to the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

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Amaechi pointed out that the transport policy contained a detailed regulatory document capable of giving Nigeria an enviable slot in the AfCFTA, adding that if African countries complied with the free trade agreements, it would boost their economies and reduce poverty.

The minister explained that with regard to the maritime sector, the Draft Maritime Policy would gain grounds from the National Transport Policy.

“Anything we would want to write about the Draft National Maritime Policy will be embedded in the National Transport Policy. If we write anything on it, it will not be submitted because it is already an offshoot of the National Transport Policy.

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“The same goes for the National Road Transport Policy, for which the Minister of State came with its details, which will be a part of the National Transport Policy,” he said.

Amaechi also pointed out that a committee was already working on the transport policy and the ministry was discussing with the office of the Vice President, adding: “I attended the meeting chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, with the Minister of State for Transport, Minister of Works, Minister of Finance. We intend to come up with the transport policy before the end of the year.”

Saraki, who also supports the National Transport Policy, said it would drive the transport sector forward, noting that the policy will be documented in July 2021.

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“It will provide a sustainable, responsible, accessible and an economically viable transportation system to all Nigerians. This is key to economic growth and the overall welfare of the citizens,” she stressed.

Indeed, Nigeria had faced transport infrastructure 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 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 intra and interurban travels, mass transit, inland waterways, and poor inter-connectivity.

Dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewumi, stressed the need for government to speedily implement the subsisting transport policy.

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Odewumi disclosed that there was a three-year-old draft that has not been ratified, lamenting that the policy draft was already getting obsolete without becoming operationalised.

“Without a policy, we can only proceed on disjointed increment with costly errors of reviews and reverses as witnessed on the Lagos-Ibadan rail. 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,” he said.

Also, professor of Transportation and Logistics Planning, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Iyiola Oni, a nation’s transport development boosts its capacity to deliver responsive, affordable, accessible, reliable, efficient, safe, structurally coordinated, and integrated transport systems for the benefit of all.

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To achieve this, Oni said the transport sector should meet the needs of a modern, competitive, industrial economy and livelihood, adding: “Despite all these, Nigeria’s transport system is still very weak, as the available modes are still not functional.

“Whereas, they must work together in an integrated and coordinated manner: road, rail, water, inland and coastal, pipelines and air. The intermodal approach involves how individual modes can be connected and managed as a seamless and sustainable transport system. The objective of intermodal structure is to integrate all the modes into an optimal, sustainable, and technical system.”

Oni said all the available transport modes should be integrated and coordinated to the fullest benefits derivable, adding that there was the need for advanced information and technological systems for shared mobility and services.

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