NESG canvasses legislative framework for Truck Transit Project
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki
The Nigeria Economic Summit Group NESG, has made a strong case for the evolution of a legal framework to back the establishment of Truck Transit Parks TTPs, across the six geo-political zones of the country.
The TTPs, which is a brainchild of the Nigerian Shippers Council is a parking facility where truck drivers on transit congregate in the course of their movements to or from the seaports and terminal while moving cargo from one point to the other.
Such facilities, which would be purely private sector driven are to be equipped with hotel facilities, recreational places, clinics, barber shops and other related placed where truck drivers could make a stop for a time before continuing on their journey to avoid fatigue that could lead to accidents.
Coordinator of the Transport and Logistics Group of the NESG, Dr. Ikenna Nwosu, who spoke at the recently concluded two-day National Summit on the establishment and management of the TTPs organised in Abuja by the Federal Ministry of Transport in conjunction with the Nigerian Shippers Council, urged the National Assembly to enact legislation that would give a legal backing to the project.
According to him, part of the legislation should be to ensure that those involved in road side parking are penalised, which will make parking in the parks mandatory thereby giving strength to the project.
He said: “The legislation should also make it mandatory for the installation of tracking devices on all cargo carrying vehicles. The TTPs should also be run as profit ventures and there should be different responsibilities to be played by the arms of government.
The coordinator also called on the Federal Road Safety Corps to evolve guidelines, procedures and penalties on maximum number of hours for a truck driver to be on continuous drive before taking a rest for on –the –spot checks of tracking facilities to confirm length of driving time or minimum number of hours the driver has been on transit.
He also made a strong case for the Federal Ministry of Transport to collaborate with the FRSC and National Bureau of Statistics to undertake census of daily volume of articulated vehicles and trucks/tankers along all freight corridors.
Nwosu also advocated a Public-Private Participation PPP model for the financing of the TTPs projects in order to make them efficient and to be structured so that the returns to investors would reflect the risks that they take so as to effectively manage their contingent fiscal liabilities.
“The Federal Government should also ensure competition during the procurement process to drive down the cost of finance by ensuring that the necessary depth and liquidity to provide the type of financing that the projects require, and that they operate transparently”
“This will to a very high extent encourage diversity in the sources of funding and ensure that different classes of investors, both domestic and foreign are able to participate in project financing”, he had argued.
In addition, he made a case for the development of monitoring and evaluating mechanisms, which will give a clear picture of the costs and benefits of the projects.
He said that factors to be evaluated should include reduced road accidents, gridlocks, reduction of operating cost for vehicle owners, other operating costs, increase in freight movements, reduced noise/environmental pollution, easier road access for non –truck load users, improved productivity of marine terminals through decongestion of ports gates, among several other factors.
Stakeholders have also argued that evolving a legal and regulatory framework for the project would boost investors’ confidence to stake their money on the project, especially given the high incidences of policy summersaults by the government.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi had said during the summit that the proposed establishment of the TTPs across highways in the country would help the worsening carnage on the highways associated with fatigues and other logistic challenges on the part of the truck drivers.
He also said that in addition to checking the worsening cases of carnage on the nation’s highways, the project would also minimise if not completely eliminate cargo loss associated with these carnages.
According to him, the Federal Government and indeed other tiers are committed to addressing the poor transport infrastructure in the country, which is in line with its policy of diversifying the economy.
He noted that at a time the government was focusing on other sectors of the economy other the petroleum through diversification, the movement of agricultural commodities and solid mineral resources from the hinterlands to the seaport locations and haulage of imported goods from the seaports to other destination comes to the fore.
“The neglect of the rail lines for over three decades, the increasing volume of trade and transit within and across the country’s borders and the increasing usage of Nigeria’s seaports as transit ports by landlocked neighbouring countries of Republics of Nigeria and Chad gave rise to the over-dependence on road haulage as a major means of long distance transportation of goods”, the Minister said.
He however observed that though the current administration is addressing the challenges associated with rail transportation in the country through the construction of new standard gauge lines and revamping the existing narrow gauge Eastern and Western rail lines and refurbishing coaches and wagons, road haulage will continue to be a major means of movement of cargo at least for now.