FG to develop national transportation master plan, privatise airports



The Federal Government is developing a national transportation master plan to diversify the economy and improve on non-oil sector revenues, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said yesterday.

Amaechi, who spoke yesterday at a briefing after a tour of facilities at the Lagos airport, said the master plan would reduce unemployment and develop the rural economy.

He also said that the Federal Government has plans to concession the management of some airports to private investors. The minister said the planned concession of the four airports was to guarantee efficiency and good management in view of dwindling resources from the government for infrastructural development in the aviation industry.

Although, Amaechi did not disclose the airports that would be privatised, there were indications that the Lagos airport; the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; the Port Harcourt International Airport; and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano were the aerodromes slated for concession.

He added that the government was determined to fully exploit the potentials of the transport sector by opening it up for new investment.

The minister said if properly repositioned, the sector holds the key to unlocking the country’s economic potentials.

Amaechi identified the sector’s problems as including bad roads, inadequate fleet, airplane services and congested ports .

He said, “The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is in the process of developing a national transportation master plan that will be implemented as a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to diversify the national economy while improving non-oil revenues.

“While reducing dependence on oil revenues, it will also develop the rural economy, reduce unemployment and urban drift.

“The problems of Nigerian transport system include bad roads, inadequate fleet of buses and trucks; irregular and inadequate trains and airplanes services and congested ports.”

The minister also mentioned dearth of suitably trained transport managers and planners, capital restructuring bottlenecks, serious issues of institutional reforms and ineffective traffic regulations.

“The Buhari administration is determined to fully exploit the potentials in the transportation sector. As a first step, the government will pursue the enactment of legislation that will open up the sector to new investments that will lead to economic prosperity,” he said.

Amaechi also revealed plans to re-introduce rail lines that would assist in the movement of petroleum products by next year.

He said investment in rail transportation could generate over 250,000 direct jobs.

The minister said, “The movement of petroleum products by rail will be re-introduced in 2016. As you are aware, we have commenced and almost completed the narrow gauge rehabilitation which will be retained for the movement of cargoes.

“At the same time, massive investment into the standard gauge to link most parts of the country with faster trains for passenger movements has begun. In 2016, we hope to complete work on the Abuja-Kaduna railway line as Mr. President is highly committed to it. Work will start in earnest on the standard gauge on many routes.”

On aviation, Amaechi said safety would not be negotiable, as he identified the challenges of the sector to including weak airlines and decaying infrastructure .

He said: “The ministry of transportation in collaboration with relevant parastatals and agencies has drawn up short term plans that are currently being implemented, of which the travelling public will take notice of the improvements in the not distant future.

“These plans include the expeditious completion of ongoing airports remodeling projects at Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt and the decongestion of airports access roads among several others. The new terminal in Lagos will generate additional 15 million passengers annually, making a total of 30 million passengers yearly nationwide.

“The medium and long term plans will require significant investments to upgrade and expand infrastructure to meet current and future requirements.

“As a result of limited resources for capital projects development, government is exploring the possibility of private sector participation to towards the realisation of the industries’ potentials.

“The Ministerial Committee on the National Airline has submitted its report to the President, which the government is studying carefully and will announce its decision in due course.

“In June of this year, Nigeria scored 96.44 per cent during the International Civil Aviation Security Audit. Despite this feat, the nation can ill afford to let its guards down considering recent events in the international scene, where passenger airplanes have been blown out of the skies.

“Subsequently in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP) and International Aviation Organisation (ICAO) annex 17, the Federal Government is looking to overhaul and streamline the security apparatus at the nation’s airports for a seamless and more effective security surveillance and enforcement. This will also improve facilitation and passengers’ experience.”

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