FG urges African nations to develop efficient transport sector

From Uche Usim and Walter Ukaegbu, Abuja
NIGERIA’S Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has charged African nations to develop the continent’s economy through efficient inter-modal transport system.
Amaechi, who stated this yesterday in Abuja at the opening of the sub-regional workshop on Transport Cost and Regional Connectivity of African Countries, said the time has come for African nations to rise up and take their share of the global transport market by developing a global reach in trade and enterprises.
He said for African countries to be competitive, they require connectivity nationally, sub-regionally and internationally.
Amaechi, who was represented by the Minister of State for Transportation, Hadi Sirika, said the main policy thrust of the Federal Government is to evolve an integrated transport system with greater   emphasis on rail and inland waterways to foster quality connectivity within the country.
“An enabling environment for Public Private Partnership (PPP) is being created by designing new policies, legislation and institutional framework that would support envisaged improvement of the transport sector,” Amaechi said.
“However, the ports alone are not enough for us to connect markets. Other modes of transport are vital so it’s necessary to adopt a holistic approach towards addressing the challenges of transport costs and connectivity. It must consider cost effectiveness of shipping services, competitiveness and survival of national and regional operators, efficiency of seaports, efficiency of transit corridors, availability of coastal shipping services, among others,” he added.
Also speaking at the forum, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive of the Nigerian  Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, said poor transport connectivity has remained a major obstacle to the sub-Saharan African countries realising their potential in both regional and global trade.
“Transportation networks represent the economic arteries of countries and regions. Networks of transport routes and facilities all over the world can be likened to an internet. In fact, this has been termed the physical internet as opposed to virtual internet. As observed by experts, for those able to connect, the physical internet brings access to vast new markets, but for those whose link to the global logistics web are weak, the cost of exclusion are large and growing. Whether a cause or a consequence, no country has grown successfully without a large expansion of its trade,” he stated.
Bello added: “Shippers are looking not only at transport cost but all costs involving both the marketing and distribution of goods from the factory of the producer to the  markets and then finally to the consumers. We must encourage South-South trade within West and Central Africa and we then build on this to look outwards to the global market. But it is worrisome that 50 per cent of the trades from Asia to the West bypass us despite going through Africa’s coastline, and almost all our imports and exports are transported by foreign ships to and from our countries,” he stated.

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