BusinessDay

Nigeria’s transport sector: Some challenges and solutions

There is an urgent need to make Nigeria’s transportation sector to be more secure, safer, and sustainable. This is expedient as recent activities of stakeholders and passengers getting killed, kidnapped, and treated poorly are unacceptable.

Other unacceptable activities in the sector are the random prices charged, poor health and safety standards, lack of operational standards, poor communication, etc, that need to change for the sector to maximize all available opportunities.

These challenges call for the sector to adopt better strategies to help provide better services, grow its top line, and be more innovative and efficient. It will also make the sector close existing gaps between it and its stakeholders through building better communication strategies that can enable it to appraise its performance through the lens of passengers.

Therefore, combining the use of modern infrastructure with the Port Centric logistics model, right partnerships with developed nations would help the sector adapt swiftly to changes

It is important to state that if our transport sector can make its stakeholders the centre of attraction – this will help improve a lot of its low areas and improve service delivery. This will also make businesses within the sector grow as well as provide better solutions to satisfy customers, avoid failure of its product that can lead customers seeking patronage elsewhere.

For instance, the March 28, 2022, Abuja-Kaduna railway attack has reduced patronage of the rail sector because passengers feel unsafe. Unfortunately, despite several signs that the Abuja-Kaduna railway was susceptible to attack, nothing was done to close the gaps and if this was done it would have helped foil the train attack that eventually led to the death of at least eight persons, with several others injured or abducted.

Also recently, it is not surprising to see that Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, made an appeal to Maritime stakeholders in Lagos, June 2022 during a summit organised by the apex bank on the importance of achieving RT200 and non-oil exports.

He accused Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) of fuelling the diversion of export cargo from Nigerian to neighbouring countries’ ports through needless bottlenecks and delays of transactions at Nigerian ports that have made exporters taking their goods to Ghana and Benin Republic, among others.

Additionally, with the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) securing approval for the designation of Lekki Deep Seaport as Customs Port and Approved Wharf, it is very important for the sector to upgrade its customer centric strategy in order to attract more patronage.

Another factor affecting Nigeria’s transport system is in road transportation and the need for the government to find a way of restructuring the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) because of its current poor operational methods that are affecting the public road transportation system.

Most commuters have the perception that the union has been hijacked by politicians for their selfish interests to intimidate oppositions they believe are a threat to their political ambition. Generally, the union is perceived by most Nigerians as an organisation used to intimidate and extort money from vehicle operators, passengers and to further their costly political ambitions. This needs to change if the sector wants to grow and achieve its goals.

While it is important to state that with proper management, Nigeria’s transportation sector can grow exponentially, increase its foreign investment portfolio as well as create more job and business opportunities, this will not happen until we show more determination in tackling the current challenges head on.

Nigeria needs to prioritize the sector for growth to add more value to its economy. Such opportunities should focus more on areas such as use of digital technology systems to drive growth in the sector as well as deploy modern infrastructure and policies to drive the change we desire.

Another solution is using Port Centric logistics solutions (PCL) to reduce costs, streamline operations, and improve customer service to make shippers and stakeholders benefit more from lower costs, shorter lead times, reduced congestion in the ports, deliver more efficient supply chain, reduced carbon footprint as well as cost-effective logistics and distribution. It will also make the management of the supply chain process simple.

Our ports and private organisations using this model will also be able to utilise innovative warehousing management systems to ensure seamless handling of goods from start to finish, from unloading and storage to pick and pack for onward distribution to help guarantee safe handling of customers goods and traceability of stock in real-time. This is because seaports play vital role in the development of trade.

Read also: 5 oldest long-distance road transport companies in Nigeria

They also act as transit points through which imports and exports flow and as such seaports are critical elements of the global supply chain systems. It is also important to state that Nigeria’s economy and its transport sector are inseparable, however, it lacks an efficient system equipped with modern structures and personnel with the right skills and knowledge to enable it to overcome current challenges as well as plan properly.

Therefore, combining the use of modern infrastructure with the Port Centric logistics model, right partnerships with developed nations would help the sector adapt swiftly to changes. This would also make it more resilient as well as become more responsive to changes capable of disrupting it.

Also, when our transportation sector becomes more efficient, it will facilitate social economic opportunities that can result in multiplier effects to our economy, especially in areas such as better accessibility to markets, reduced idle time, creation of business and employment opportunities, and attract foreign and local investments opportunities.

Summarily having a sustainable transportation system would help reduce costs, stimulate economies, and create business and employment opportunities. Transportation plays a fundamental role in Nigeria’s economy and so government needs to give the sector attention as well as leverage on it to diversify the economy.

It is also worthy of note to mention that the sector has both direct and indirect impacts on the economy, with direct impacts relating to better accessibility where transport enables products from the rural areas to get to the cities, thereby saving time and ensuring safety. Indirect impacts relate to the multiplier effects to the economy where the price of commodities, goods or services are reduced or increased due to demand and supply.

While transportation facilitates movement of goods and services as well as boosts the service industry, creating a more sustainable transportation system would increase demand in transportation services across all the different modes as well as increase productivity. It would also increase the sector contribution to our nation’s GDP and add more value to the quality of the life of citizens.

Finally, achieving a better transport system also requires that we hire trained professionals to run the sector, and this should be done purely on merit as obtained in developed nations.

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