The Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, yesterday called for the immediate repeal of the laws setting up the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC).
Opeifa said review of the repeal and review of the acts have become necessary in order to encourage active participation of the private sector and state governments in the development of water and rail transportation in the country.
The commissioner made this call at the flagging off of the technical session of the 13th National Council of Transport in Lagos with the theme, Transformation of transport infrastructure: Catalyst for social-economic growth.
Opeifa said, “the inter and intra state water transport should be the exclusive preserve of the state government except when it borders on national security but because of the NIWA and the Railway acts, the waterways have been underutilised.”
Opeifa also said that lack of infrastructure had hindered the adequate use of the country’s water transport system even as he urged the council to discuss the role of rail, water, air and road transport to the national economy.
Opeifa queried also queried the state of the country’s rail and seaport development, saying, “Today in Nigeria, rail to seaport transformation is near zero. Seriously speaking, in this millennium, no nation will witness appreciable economic growth, transformation or competitiveness without adequate rail transport infrastructure provision.”
He said the Lagos State government has because of its extensive waterways implemented various programmes designed to fully develop water transportation potentials by providing enabling environment for water transportation to thrive.
Also speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Engr. Nebolisa Emodi, said the Federal Government has initiated reforms that will enable private sector and state governments participate in the transport sector.
He said, “the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Transport has initiated some reform measures including four transport reform bills aimed at providing enabling environment for more participation of the private sector, state and local governments in providing adequate and efficient transport infrastructure through Public private partnership (PPP).
“Presently, the PPP strategy has been adopted for the provision of vital transport facilities such as expansion of terminals and new facilities at the seaports, inland container deports (ICDs) which are strategically located along existing rail lines and proposed to function as ports of origin and destination for exports and imports.”
He also noted that there is still a lot to be done to achieve the vibrant and responsive transport system of the country’s dream.
He said, “your active and constructive participation at this meeting will set the pace for necessary changes at the various level so that we can overcome present challenges and achieve the effective and efficient transport system we all envisage.”
He continued: “Our collective aspiration should in the first instance be the promotion of inter-modalism which envisages the connection of all the state capitals, seaports, airports, river ports, mining zones, industries and agricultural belts with railway lines to complement the existing road infrastructures.”
The National Council of Transport meeting is being attended by chief executives of transport agencies, departments and agencies and Commissioners of Transportation and allied ministries from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.