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Recently, the Lagos State Government berthed a Transport Policy to better coordinate its inter-modal transportation initiatives which are aimed at promoting organised public transportation, Adeyinka Aderibigbe writes

The Sanwo-Olu administration deepened the first pillar of its THEMES+ Agenda, with the unveiling of the Lagos State Transport Policy (LTP).

Though the policy had been on the drawing board since 2019, the administration, prioritising transportation and traffic management, finally unveiled the document, becoming the first state to do so and breasting even the country to the tape.

Pipe dream

The closest the country got to pushing a national transport policy was last year, when its multilateral stakeholders submitted a draft of the policy to the Federal Ministry of Transportation. The draft, inherited by the current Minister Senator Ahmed Sa’id Alkali, was to be slated for another review ahead of its presentation to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval. The minister has, at several forums, expressed commitment to delivering this critical document once all the critical stakeholders had signed up on it.

The problem is that achieving just that keeps getting more complex. Putting together a working transportation policy is one that goes beyond the parent Ministry of Transportation. The policy must contain inputs from Aviation Ministry and that of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and lately, even from the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, all agencies and departments under these four major ministries.

Getting diverse agencies and departments to synergise rather than working in silos get more daunting as each gets more preoccupied with getting the renewed hope of the Federal Government on stream.

Yet, the country keeps losing huge revenue as the document that would drive the movement of all modes of transportation to achieving a healthy economy becomes more daunting.

Berthing a national transport policy was a journey that began in 1965, but 59 years later, successive administrations only left Nigerians with a wish list. A surfeit of intentions crisscrossing the four major modes- land, air, waterways and pipelines; which have left the country prostrate. The result is that the sector, despite its huge potential, has been unable to cap beyond four per cent, its best yet, to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Since the turn of the Fourth Republic, the National Council on Transportation (NTC), which was the highest council on transportation (made up of commissioners of transportation of all the states, heads of agencies in the transportation sector and chaired by the Minister of Transportation), have continued to issue policy guidelines to regulate the sector. The result has been a mismatch of policies which has left the sector unregulated as all comers deploy all forms of equipment/vehicle(s) to operate the sector and mine its wealth.

The Lagos example

That was why the state’s former Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde lauded the Sanwo-Olu administration for finally delivering the document.

One of the ‘wise men’ invited by the former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration to put the document together (representing the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Oladeinde said the document would finally lay to rest the rumbles about the “father” of the state’s transportation magic.

“For all those asking where is the father of all the initiatives which has set this state apart, we have located its father in the Transportation Policy, while the ‘Mother’ remains the STMP being religiously implemented by the government,” Oladeinde said.

The National President of the Chartered Institute Of Transport Administration (CIOTA) Prince Segun Ochuko Obayendo lauded what he called the “Lagos can do DNA,” which has continued to see the state beat others to being the best in all sectors, and sustaining the drive to achieve a 21st Century economy.

Obayendo urged the state to ensure the professionalisation of the sector, arguing that by berthing the policy, the Lagos State Government has sent the signal for an imminent end to the unregulated operation choking the sector.

Pioneer Dean of the School of Transport and Logistics, Lagos State University (LASU-SOT), Prof. Samuel Odewunmi opined that the policy would sanitise the sector.

Odewunmi, who was one of the drafters of the policy, however, said he would not jump into critiquing the policy until the government officially releases the policy.

The Director of the Centre for Inter-Modal Transport Studies, University of Lagos, Prof. Iyiola Oni, who, with Odewunmi had drafted the policy, also chose to be cautious. For him “the success of the policy will depend on its implementation.”

Oni, however, described the policy as “very robust,” arguing that “giving her citizens a document to run with, will guide the sector that is critical to any economy.”

He said the document could be adjusted every five years to accommodate the changes that needed to be captured in the document in order to regulate all modes operational in the state.

Unveiling the document before a creme of discerning stakeholders which also included four Commissioners of Transportation from other states, among them Ogun, Kwara, Kaduna and Osun, Sanwo-Olu said the policy would be the compass needed to give more bite to the various initiatives being implemented by the government.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat observed that transportation is not only a facilitator of movement but also a catalyst for economic prosperity. He said it is in recognition of this that the administration prioritised transportation and traffic management, and has been methodical in deploying other modes of transportation to reduce congestion and improve the quality of life of residents.

He said he is happy to note that Lagos, again, is the first to come up with a document to sanitize the sector, adding that Lagos wouldn’t mind seeing other states and the Federal Government copy the document if it would help sanitise the sector.

Presenting the document, the Commissioner for Transportation Mr Oluwaseun Osiyemi commended all his predecessors, beginning from: Dr Muiz Banire, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, Dr Kayode Opeifa, Dr Dayo Mobereola, Ladi Lawanson and Dr Oladeinde for their painstaking insights in shaping the document and bequeathing a deserving document to the people of the state.

“We have been able to put together a transportation system that does not have only what we need for today, but has what we require for tomorrow. He lauded Governor Sanwo-Olu for his commitment which has seen the various initiatives which has seen same commitment on the roads, rail as well as waterways, which has seen the deployment of 15 new ferries added to the 20 earlier deployed which is complementing a waterway command and control centre at the LASWA Headquarters to ensure the safety of the waterways.

Policy synopsis

The new Policy has a 15-year shelf- life that is renewable every five years. The government, recognising that the sector is critical in pushing back poverty, seeks the reduction of travel time and the overall cost of using the transport system with the sector playing an enhanced role in the state’s economic and social development.

The overarching objectives of the policy according to the document is “to be a sustainable transport system that is integrated, safe, adequate, reliable, comfortable, efficient, affordable, environmentally-friendly and anchored on a progressive and competitive market economy, providing inclusive access to all the people of the state in an environmentally sustainable and economically cost-effective manner.”

The policy, therefore, took note of the following framework parameters: accessibility for all; land use and transport planning, governance arrangements and gender equality and social inclusion, and financing and cost recovery.

Other parameters are private sector and multilateral agencies participation (PS&MAP), planning and budgeting process, monitoring and evaluation, institutional arrangement and capacity building, managing expectations with focus on stakeholders consultation and advocacy and deploying pilot projects.

The policy’s scope: Divided into 14 elements, the policy covered among others; road infrastructure, with emphasis on improving efficiency of road networks and utilisation through sustainable maintenance, upgrading specific link roads to meet growing demands and improving network efficiency, undertake road classification, appropriate responsibility for use of roads and improved practices for the management and financing of roads. Improve road signage and improve transport services in rural areas.

Under the new policy, the state will establish a transport safety agency; to coordinate and organise the safety of transport infrastructure and operation of all land transport. Also to be strengthened is the Lagos State Transport Police, currently operating as the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) to ensure the safety of travellers and transport providers, and undertake regularly, safety and security training for all transport agencies and service providers.

In the area of traffic management, the policy aims to come up with regulations to guide the use of the infrastructure and the provision of transport services, equip all the roads with signs and road markings to physically guide traffic, ensure adequate and appropriate control and management of on-street and off-street parking, this would be complemented with regular review of enforcement strategies of transportation/traffic enforcement agencies to adopt more technology-driven approaches in the discharge of their responsibilities and deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems such as automatic incident detection, CCTV Cameras and Area Traffic Control (ATC) and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) devices to boost detection of traffic infringements.

The roads envisages the deployment of more BRT buses with cleaner energy and the increased bus and non-bus based mode of transportation, bus fleet expansion through encouragement of private sector participation, injection of more first and last mile buses to improve commuting experiences deployment of taxi and e-hailing services and mini bus services aimed at encouraging fleet modernization and eradication of motorcycles and tricycles as means of operation in the state.

For urban road freight, the policy aims at encouraging timely maintenance of freight vehicles and training and retraining of qualified drivers and owners, in which tankers and lorries would ultimately be confined to designated routes.

The policy targets a reduction in the deployment of private car travels as more users switch to public-regulated transport. The policy also aims at dipping the average age of vehicles through the use of vehicle scrapping schemes.

Though the policy had consideration for non-motorised transport, such would only be encouraged with improvement in safety and security of pedestrians while using the road networks.

Rail transport: The policy anticipates a regulatory agency to regulate the deployment and deepening of urban rail mass transit with the deployment of the Blue and the Red lines.

The policy also seeks to see the state become more active on air transport. Among others, it seeks the establishment of an aviation unit in the Ministry of Transportation. It seeks improvement of more road access to the domestic and international airports and with other stakeholders promotes the use of Lekki Airport.

On Inland Waterways Transit, the policy seeks to maximize its comparative advantage on waterway transit, promote the development of a healthy boat building industry and intensify efforts at upgrading water infrastructure, while the policy seeks to promote a robust maritime transport where related industries would be encouraged to spring up that would be the catalyst to the development of the Lekki and Badagry seaports.

For pipelines, the policy seeks a robust partnership with NNPC Limited in monitoring the use of pipelines to assure their safety and to discourage the use of pipelines as mechanic villages, all of which is aimed at reducing carriage of liquid freight by road.

Despite its huge ambition to promote and maximise the potential of the sector, the policy, while admitting that the sector does some damage to the environment, seeks to promote carbon remediation and reduction. At regular intervals the new infrastructures are to be subjected to regular tests to check their resilience to climate change factors, encourage purpose built auto-repair workshops and discourage roadside repairs, as well as developing a plan to tighten vehicle emission standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Conclusion

To achieve all these, the policy canvasses the establishment of a multi-agency and independent transport projects implementation committee to regularly review and recommend the state’s major infrastructure projects in a way that will ensure cost-effective implementation and safe operation.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Adeyinka Aderibigbe

Quelle/Source: The Nation, 19.06.2024

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