The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transportation, Senator Gbenga Ashafa has said that a major factor hampering the growth and development of Nigeria’s transport sector is the overbearing influence of government on its infrastructure provision and management, as well as service delivery.
Ashafa made this known in his speech at the 2017 and Second Lagos Traffic Radio Lecture Series with the theme: ‘Advancing Urban Transportation and Mobility’, and recently held at the Eko FM Multipurpose Hall, LTV Complex, Ikeja.
In the speech titled: “Enabling Law As A Catalyst For A Vibrant Transport Sector- The Nigerian Experience”, he blamed the poor rate of growth and development in the Nigerian transport sector on the excessive involvement of government as the provider of infrastructure on one hand and operator of transport services also on the other.
“So far, government has played the roles of transport infrastructure provider and transport services operator which has posed a great challenge and disservice to the national economy as it chases away private sector participation”, he said.
While still stressing the importance of regulation in the transport sector, he said: “Over the years of interaction between the public and private sectors, two things have become clear- the first is that government has little or no business being in business and the second, that should the government have any business with business, it should be in the area of providing a level playing field for all entrants by being the regulator for the sector, administering acts, regulations and rules”.
While also delivering that the higher participation of the private sector had been experienced in the air and marine transportation systems than in road and rail counterparts, he said: “What Nigeria needs for road and rail infrastructure at the state and federal levels are clear statutes establishing an agency for public ownership with private concessioning of immovable assets, and another agency for regulation of prices, standards and enforcement”.
In his view, without this done, the quest for greatly increased private sector participation would likely remain elusive.
According to him, there had been a significant surge in private sector investment in the air and marine transport sectors in recent times because the agencies in the sectors already addressed the needs more satisfactorily than those in the land transport.
“For example, the Nigerian Ports Authority and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria were established under statutes which are independent of the statutes which established the “regulator” agencies( the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration Agency)”, he added.
Other notable speakers at the event included Professor Samuel Odebunmi of the Lagos State University School of Transport who spoke on ” Accelerating Integrated Transport System: Road, Rail and Waterways” , and Engineer Abiodun Dabiri, Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority who also spoke on “Lagos State Transport Infrastructural Initiative: Executing LAMATA Mandate.
A part of the event was also the presentation of awards to some officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority and the Federal Road Safety Corps who were duly voted by the general public.
Balogun Omolara Hannah clinched the award for the ‘Most Dedicated LASTMA Official, Eboda Gbeminiyi carted away the award for the ‘People’s LASTMA Official Of The Year’, while the award for the ‘People’s FRSC Official Of The Year’ was won by Balogun Modupe.
The event’s Chief Host was the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde while the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambidextrous was the Special Guest of Honour.