Government officials, policy experts, transport operators and other stakeholders in the transport sector are meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to examine issues related to road transport in Nigeria.
The meeting, which began on Thursday, is organised by the federal ministry of transportation under its Annual Stakeholders’ Workshop on Road Transport and Mass Transit Operations in Nigeria.
The workshop is in its second edition.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who declared the meeting open on Thursday, told the participants that the 2016 edition of the workshop assisted the federal government to achieve some policy milestones like the National Road Transport Operators’ Manual which is a guide to the safety, security, and regulation of commercial motor vehicle operations in the country.
Other achievements derived from the previous workshop, according to Mr. Amaechi, include the creation of a platform for the private sector to showcase their innovations in transportation; the encouragement of effort towards the Inter-State-Road Transit Scheme approved by the ECOWAS; and the partnership with World Bank on the latter’s Rural Access Mobility Project.
The minister said that the objective of this year’s workshop is, “to explore more opportunities to effectively engage the public, the private sector, and other stakeholders in the development of the much-needed sophisticated transportation infrastructure, and the enabling environment that will make road transportation contribute immensely to the nation’s economy.”
Udo Udoma, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, in his address to the participants, admitted that the country’s transport infrastructure remained inadequate for the size of its economy.
He said the nation lags behind its peers in terms of scale and quality of road and rail transportation.
He identified poor sector governance and weak project execution as the major obstacles to expansion and improvement on the quality of infrastructure.
“It is in recognition of these that the Buhari administration has placed the development of transport infrastructure at the heart of its policy agenda,” Mr. Udoma said.
“Beginning from 2016, we have continued to devote significant capital budgetary allocations in our annual budgets as government counterpart funding for the railways.
“In the 2018 budget proposal, a total of N162.28 billion is proposed as counterpart funding for railway projects including Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Ajeokuta-Itakpe-Aladja (Warri), Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, and Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic, among others,” Mr. Udoma said.
He added that the government was planning to dredge 1,000 kilometres of inland waterways and reinforce riverbanks to increase the capacity of inland waterways.