‘Leeway to transportation sector’s growth in Nigeria’
The stakeholders stated this at a one-day seminar, organized by KPMG Professional Services, in collaboration with IPFA international in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Unlocking Rapid Development of Infrastructure in Nigeria and West Africa’, the stakeholders bemoaned the parlous state of road infrastructure in the country, especially those connected to the ports, maintaining that same reforms witnessed in the telecoms and power sector must be replicated in the transport sector in order to spur activities in the sector and boost foreign direct investments.
Specifically, the Managing Director of United Capital Plc, Wale Shonibare, said that “the same way we had a presidential taskforce on power, we need something similar to unlock the transport sector. There are several issues of legislation that needed to be in place for instance, today, only the national railway authorities is empowered by law to build railway line in Nigeria. If you want to get private sector involvement, you have to get rid of that legislation and allow the private sector to come in.
We had legislation on the book to establish a road maintenance fund to allow our road to be maintained and today, that legislation is not working. We need the highest level of sponsorship to get things work. If we are investing in ports, we need to invest in the ‘wood’ that form part of the port, we need to invest in the railway too, we cannot be focusing on the road alone.
“If we move all our heavy goods by road, it will not last for a long period of time.
You need to focus on how the port link to road, link to rail and how that link to the airport, everything integrated and that is how the advance countries deal with the issue of transportation.”
Shonibare added that long-term projects such as transportation infrastructure could also be financed by raising money through the capital market.
He stressed that the best way to achieve this is to mobilise savings in Nigeria, like the pension fund. “There can be other institutions both at the federal level and at the state level to mobilise savings. We should have a national savings policy so that we have long term money available for long term projects.”
Partner, Project Infrastructure and Corporate Finance, AELEX, Lawrence Fubara Anga argued that the significant deficit in terms of transport infrastructure in Nigeria could be tackled by developing a local capital market that delivers long term funding.
“We need to deepen our capital market, we need to create products and asset classes that allows our pension fund to be committed into infrastructure base.”
The Commissioner for Transport, Lagos State, Dayo Mobereola explained that there was need for effective stakeholders engagement in order to tackle the problem associated with parlous road network in Nigeria.
Mobereola, who was represented by the Technical Adviser, Lamata, Oladeinde Frederic on the occasion said: “When you start a project, you have investors that uses international benchmark to rate the project but later, the project is abandoned because of other problems like effective stakeholders engagement especially between the government and end users.
“The stakeholders must be carried along on things such as charges . You must test your market and let people know that even charges can be changed ton tally with inflation when the need arises.”