AN ASSESSMENT OF THE TRANSPORTATION SECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
By David Adekunle
Transportation involves the movement of humans, animals, goods and services from one location to another. These include air, land (rail and road), water, cable, pipeline and space.
The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari had through its Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, invested over a billion dollars in three flagship projects. These include, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Second Niger Bridge in Anambra State both in the southern parts of the country and in the north, the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway: two of the three sections all for completion in May 2023.
The Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, introduced through executive order 7 in 2019, paved way for companies willing and able to spend their funds in constructing critical roads, to recover their costs by paying reduced taxes, over a period of time, and in a transparent manner.
So far, about three trillion naira has been mobilized or committed through the Executive Order for road projects across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, by companies like Dangote Group, MTN, BUA, NLNG and NNPC Limited.
Highway Development and Management Initiative, a public-private partnership program was used to mobilize, in its first Phase, over one trillion naira in private investment in development and maintenance of twelve roads, amounting to two thousand kilometers in length. More than six hundred billion naira worth of Sukuk Bonds was also raised since 2017 for more than forty critical road projects across all the six geo-political zones.
Other successes recorded by the President Buhari’s administration are the completion of some air and seaports. New Terminals for the International Airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt and the reconstructed new runways for the Abuja International Airport, built in the 80’s were completed in 2017 as well as the reconstruction of Enugu International Airport runway.
Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) transformed into a multimodal accident investigation body responsible for investigating accidents across all transport modes following President Buhari’s assent to the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Bill 2022.
With the commissioning of the Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos by President Buhari early this year, the first commercial vessel berthed at the new Port on the 6th of April, formally marking the commencement of commercial operations at the first Sea Port in Nigeria in decades.
Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the Rail transportation received a major boost by linking of rails to seaports and roads to drive the economy. His administration completed the 156 kilometer Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge. With another 8.72 kilometer completion of extension to Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line to Lagos Port Complex in 2021.
The construction of a new standard gauge line of a distance of 248 kilometers from Kano to Maradi in the Republic of Niger also readily comes to mind.
There is no doubt that so much have been achieved under the current government of President Buhari in the transportation sector but, much still needs to be done to ameliorate the sufferings of commuters in Nigeria.
The light rail transit is advocated due to its high passenger capacity and cheaper to construct than the metro rail line. It also has the potential of reducing congestion, travel time and cut-down environmental pollution experienced on roads.
Strong security with modern technological gadgets should be installed in strategic rail routes to guide against incessant attacks by bandits, kidnappers or terrorists on train passengers as was the case of the Abuja-Kaduna attacks.
The Calabar Seaport and similar ports in the Niger Delta should be dredged to enable them to accommodate high capacity ships berth in order to decongest the Lagos Sea port.
The government should endeavour to create a favourable atmosphere for the operators of airlines to ensure a reduction of the high cost of fares on air transportation in Nigeria.
These should begin to form impetus for the incoming government to initiate ideas geared towards consolidating on some of the gains and achievements by the out-going administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.