Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, says one the priorities of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is to improve transportation infrastructure in the country.
Saraki said this at the ongoing 2021 Annual Retreat of the Nigeria Transportation Commissioners’ Forum (NTCF) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation on Monday in Abuja.
The theme of the retreat is “Developing and Fostering Synergy in the Management of Sustainable Transport Policies”.
“The theme is very apt in view of the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in improving transportation infrastructure and services in order to meet the needs of our population and the Nigerian economy.
“At the heart of the economy, transport systems directly and indirectly impact GDP, living standards, employment and are enabling catalysts of the economy.
“The transportation sector is a nexus that connects all aspects of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“For example, ensuring food security, a cardinal pillar of the ERGP will be impossible without the transportation systems that brings food from the farms to markets, factories and dinner tables.
“Nigeria’s transportation sector has for long been under significant strain with adverse impact on the country’s economic development, therefore, improving transportation infrastructure and services is one of the priorities of this administration as part of the ERGP.’’
According to Saraki, across the road, rail and maritime sub-sectors, there are unprecedented levels of development.
She said, however, that a lot needed to be done to attain the quality of transportation systems required to support the country’s economic aspirations.
“Amongst the modes of transport, only the road sector is on the concurrent list, thereby, requiring considerable coordination and synergies between the federal, the states and the local governments.
“It is our firm belief that the road transport sector can be a big contributor to national GDP, an enabler of economic growth and source of millions of jobs if properly harnessed.
“The road transport sector is beset by a myriad of challenges which require urgent and sustained intervention.
“In order to address these challenges, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has embarked on a Road Transport Transformation Programme with the theme “Moving Nigeria Safely and Securely into the Future.
“This is a comprehensive and far-reaching programme of reform touching on all the aspects of road transportation,’’ the lawmaker said.
On security, the senator said the ministry was collaborating with law enforcement authorities, coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser on a Road Transport Security Summit.
According to her, the summit, which will hold soon will discuss, address and develop far-reaching solutions to the road transport security challenges.
Saraki said: “On the environmental front, we seek to develop and implement an eco-sustainability agenda for the road transport sector to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“This will include defining emission standards and transitioning to cleaner fuels and renewables.
“On gender diversity, we aim to improve the participation of women in the road transport sector through policies, incentives, training and empowerment initiatives.
“We are also aggressively promoting the use of technology within the road transport sector. This starts from the aforementioned licensing and registration regime to collecting passenger manifests, real time trip information, electronic payments systems, etc.
“This will go a long way toward delivering efficient transport services and is also a key element to improving security of road transport.
“The NITT has this year embarked on a National Transport Databank project, which will be the beginning of developing our national intelligent transport infrastructure.
“Finally, we are working to accelerate Nigeria’s compliance with and implementation of transport protocols and conventions including implementation of the ECOWAS Inter-State Road Transit Scheme (ISRT).
“Empowering the existing National Facilitation Committee on Road Transport and Transit created by ECOWAS in member states; and accelerating the construction and completion of National Freight Offices.’’
According to Saraki, there is an opportunity for Nigeria to leverage its geographical position, its large domestic market and industrial capacity to become the Transportation Hub for Africa with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
She said however that it would require smart, rigorous, foresighted planning and swift, diligent execution that would be done collectively to achieve the feat.
Saraki reiterated her commitment and passion to change the narrative of the road transport sub-sector in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, also reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to ensure a multi-modal transportation system that would guarantee socio-economic prosperity of Nigeria by boosting the efficiency of trade/commerce, logistic and industrial sub-sectors of the economy.
Ajani said the potential for growth and development of the sub-sector was quite promising but in dire need of urgent attention, adding that it was considered critical to economic growth of the country.
“It is therefore incumbent upon those of us gathered in this hall today to explore innovative and transformative initiatives that will help improve the Road Transport Sub-sector for optimal performance and enhanced productivity.
“I therefore enjoin you as key players in the sub-sector to put in your best with a view to coming up with implementable policy recommendations in line with global best practices that will reposition the sub-sector for better performance.
“I encourage you all to approach this retreat with a forward-looking, long-term commitment to true stewardship needed to actualise the aspirations, goals and objectives of the various states and FCT as well as national cohesion in the transportation sector.
“I am optimistic that the recommendations and communiqué that emanate from this retreat will be implemented to the letter by all the 36 states of the federation and FCT.