THE nation’s transport sector which had expected a new lease of life following the enactment of the National Transport Commission (NTC) law is now getting worried that the advent of 2019 politicking may be crowding out an important change agenda of the present government in the transportation system.
There is no doubt that the Presidency and the Ministry of Transportation focused rightly and were diligent in the execution of the change set for the transport sector. It would be a shame if these have now taken the back seat because of the unfolding political situation.
As the groundswell of support that had greeted the enactment of the NTC Act appears to be dying down on account of delayed presidential assent, we draw attention to equally mounting discontent and growing difficulties faced by stakeholders in the sector.
To say that the nation’s transport sector is underdeveloped is an understatement. Even the most basic facilities and services are not only grossly inadequate, but the available ones are also in deplorable, inhuman and unsafe conditions.
The dismal state of the sector is obvious in the disjointed nature of the various transport modes. There is little connectedness and synergy among the various modes of transport as obtained in the developed world.
The industry is largely without standards due to lack of a central regulatory body and framework. The road segment is chaotic and largely unprofessionally run. The near-absence of water and rail transportation shows how primitive the transport sector is in a country of nearly 200 million people.
Stakeholders expect that a quick presidential assent of the NTC will put Nigeria on the path to efficient economic regulatory framework for the transport sector, mechanism for monitoring compliance of government agencies, transport service providers and ensure a new lease of life for the users.
There is no doubt that Nigeria’s economy will perform better under an impartial and independent regulatory authority as encapsulated in the NTC Act. The Commission is fit for the activation of the comatose National Transport Policy.
We also consider the implementation of the NTC Act a quick win for the government since the framework and management capacity are already in place in the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC; a parastatal under the Ministry of Transport.
The readiness of NSC has been demonstrated in recent years following its appointment, four years ago, by the Government to perform the regulatory functions at the ports for the purpose of entrenching efficiency in the industry. Also good results have been recorded by NSC in its Inland Container Depot, ICD, projects that have brought shipping services to the nation’s hinterland.
We therefore call on the President to quickly approve and activate the NTC Act as it will drive rapid economic change.