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Nigeria’s Transportation Sector: Increasing Productivity Through Technology And Human Resources Development

Transport and logistics are integral to any society. Their strategic importance cannot be underestimated as products and services must reach their final consumers.

The importance of the sector to the overall development of any nation cannot be over emphasized as transport innovation was a catalyst for growth in the 19th century industrial revolution, and innovations in transport and logistics also led the economic and environmental drivers of the technology revolution of the 21st century.

Transportation is a key factor in all aspects of national development and its process involves the need to collect, assemble, transfer and distribute goods, services and people from one location to another. Transportation systems globally are experiencing ongoing change and thanks to modern transformative technologies, education and innovation.

The innovation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is an advanced application that provided swift interconnected services to the different modes of transport. It consists of traffic management which enables users to be safer, more informed, and be more coordinated and smarter.

ITS helps cities to function more productively, while improving the lives of citizens: Travel across traditional modes of transport (such as boats, cars, bus, train and air) sees immediate benefits in enhancing traffic safety, creating immediate alerts for dangerous weather, heavy traffic, and unsafe conditions which results in reduction of accidents and loss of lives. The ITS revolution is currently providing a major positive impact on transport development and the awareness of communication in modern day society.

Real-time weather monitoring systems help connect information related to wind speed, visibility and road conditions, rainfall, providing traffic control and information on current driving conditions. It also limits infrastructural damages such as impacts of heavy vehicles burden on roads and its networks especially if they are overloaded. Modern technology such as weight-in-motion systems also helps to measure the size, type and weight of vehicles as they travel and transmits the collected data to a central server.

 

ITS also helps in traffic control systems by permitting traffic lights to react to changing traffic patterns, instead of working on a fixed schedule in traffic. Most adaptive traffic light systems use smart intersections that help grant priority to certain vehicles such as public transit and emergency vehicles.

 

Modern economies globally are relying on ITS in disrupting other industries while value adding to their own and it is very important for our nation’s transport sector to follow suit. Innovative technologies such as cloud based services, mobile devices and applications (or Apps), sensors and the internet of things (or IoT), are helping drive augmented reality, autonomous transportation, block chain technology and big data.

 

All these helps in increasing productivity and lending efficiency to modern day transportation systems but also revolutionise the overall value chain of the sector which means the future is increasingly bright for innovation and research in transportation management technology, if we work towards achieving smarter solutions.

 

Many of these are logistical solutions that have the potential to stimulate rapid transformative economic growth, for pairing down flights, reducing wear and tear on vehicles, more timely public transport system and better navigated boats.

 

While using modern technology system to enhance and transform the transportation and logistics sector, it is also very important for us to give priority attention to human resources development by increasing funding for transportation, research and educational institutions offering transportation management technology courses in graduate and post-graduate courses.

 

Nigeria should give priority attention to recognised institutions such as the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) and Federal University of Technology Minna (FUTMINNA), offering transportation courses at the highest level and make it one of the major hubs  for research, innovation and development centres in addition to the existing ones to boost the transport sector for competitive advantage.

 

Our transport authorities can also provide platforms for our tertiary institutions to form international partnerships with institutions offering transport related courses, such as Australian Maritime College, Monash University Australia, Malmo University Sweden, Dalhousie University Halifax Canada, Suny Maritime College USA to help improve sharing of knowledge and ideas, innovation, skills and expertise to help develop the sector.

 

The paradigm in transportation policy is shifting to become more dynamic and there is a growing realization that transportation institutions need to broaden their focus beyond academics and focus also on the business, technology and management offerings that will attract more investment to the sector both locally and internationally to stimulate the growth of the economy.

Evidence of degeneration and setbacks in the transportation sector of Nigeria has been blamed partially on poor human resource development and infrastructural deficits which are needed to connect the nation and accelerate the movements of goods and services across the country.

While GDP from transport in Nigeria increased to $720.241 million in the third quarter of 2019 from $642.927 million in the second quarter of 2019 with a far greater potential, a greater transport network and infrastructure will make the sector more attractive and give rise to more foreign investment opportunities.

Although inefficient human resource development programmes and use of modern technology systems are some of the major areas affecting the sector, our government also needs to put in a lot of efforts by changing some of the existing policies and make it to be more articulate and flexible to accommodate more ideas, innovation, use of modern technology system, international collaboration, research and development to boosts the sector and economy at large.

 

Festus Okotie

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