*Bills With The National Assembly
*IoTA Boss Faults Shippers’ Council’s Economic Regulatory Role
The Federal Government has proposed reforms in the road sector that could save the country about N500 Billion yearly in vehicle operations cost alone, with over two million jobs created nationwide.
As a means of achieving this, the government has outlined some key elements of the road reforms.
This was revealed by the Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolomemen at the National Conference/Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Institute of Transport Administration (IoTA) in Lagos, last week.
The Minister said that the ability of the sector to effectively play its vital supportive role to the economy would be realized through the proposed reforms in the sector.
According to him, “It is established that Nigeria could save about N500 Billion yearly in vehicle operation costs alone, with over two million jobs created nationwide.”
He stated further that the World Bank African Infrastructure Country Diagnostic Study (AICDS) Report of 2010 stated that countries with both Road Fund and Road Agencies spent less on road construction and maintenance and have higher levels of road quality than those that lack either of them.
In his speech, he outlined some of the key elements of the reform to include; establishment of institutional structures that bring all roads under regular maintenance, separation of client and supplier functions to improve efficiency and increase accountability; constitution of public-private oversight boards that bring user perspective to management decisions.
Others are: Commercialisation of road agencies operating at arm’s length; adoption of modern management information system and procedures to improve decision-making and improved dialogue with political leadership.
The Minister who was represented at the occasion by Engr. Peter Ibe, Director of Federal Highways, South-West of the Ministry added that it was in the light of achieving the afore-mentioned that the ministry inaugurated Road Sector Reform committee in 2011.
According to him, two drafts were submitted, reviewed and recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for onward transmission to the National Assembly for passage into Law.
The Bills include the National Road Bill which is proposed to establish the National Road Fund and to be supervised by a National Road Fund Board. The Road Fund is an instrument designed primarily to address peculiar issues associated with road sector financing and management
In similar vein, he said that the Federal Roads Authority Bill would seek to establish the Federal Roads Authority (FRA) adding that it would set up a semi-autonomous road agency that would be responsible for the maintenance and rehabilitation of federal roads as well as provide the overall framework and advice for the coordination and technical specification of national roads including states and Local Governments.
He however said that when the Bills are passed into law, they would ensure huge private sector funds as well as creating more business opportunities for engineering professionals to help create jobs.
“It is my belief that when the Road Reform Bills are passed into Law, they will not only ensure that huge private sector funds will be attracted to fill the funding gap in providing road infrastructure in the country for sustainable road development, they will also lead to the creation of more millions of jobs in the industry, as well as other allied industries,” he enthused.
In another development, the President of IoTA, Prof. Innocent Ogude has said that the regulatory role assigned to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was not one of its statutory roles.
He said, “The Shippers’ Council is not statutorily established to perform economic regulatory role. What Shippers’ Council was established to do is to take care of the interest of Nigerian shippers. That is, those who do ship goods and those who receive goods that come into the country.”
Speaking exclusively with MMS Plus Weekly at the venue of the event, the IoTA president who said that he was aware that the Council had presented a Bill to the National Assembly to be made the economic regulator added that there was a lacuna in pronouncing the Council an economic regulator.
In his words, “I am aware that Shippers’ Council has presented a Bill to the National Assembly to make them the economic regulator and I read in the paper that the Minister of Transport pronounced them as an interim, remember to get an economic regulator, you need a legislation.
“I don’t know the reason that one was done, but as an academic, I can say the problem with such thing is that regular things get aborted when you try to have a temporary measure.
“So, there is a lacuna in pronouncing them as the regulator,” he concluded.
Prof. Ogude however stated that the cause of the anomalies in the transport sector is borne out of the fact that it was left in the hands of private operators who decide what happens in the sector adding that the failure of the government to make it mandatory for the operators to be organized contributed to the factor.
“I think the reason for the anomalies is that the sector has been left in the private hands. In other words, they have free entry and exit add that government has not made it mandatory for them to be organized that is why you see one man having as many cars as you have now running on the roads belonging to different people. Asked what could be done to avert this, he said, “Whenever the Nigerian government concludes the reform agenda.”