The poor performance of the Nigerian economy may not be unconnected with the poor transport structure, which poses challenges to businesses and distribution of goods and services.
Renowned Economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, made the assertion at the investiture of the new President, Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA), Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, Tuesday, in Lagos.
He said Nigeria needs to build solid institutions that would enable a regulatory framework for effectiveness in ensuring competition within that space, and also ensuring that users have access to common services offered.
He urged the Federal Government to fix the bad roads, improve connectivity, and allow the private sector to also operate in the railway, which should link all necessary routes across the country, including the seaports.
Describing transportation as the gateway to the economy, Utomi urged the transport professionals to speak the truth to power, influence policies, and ensure that the instructional arrangements are in place for the gateway to the economy to thrive.
He said: "The Intermodal transportation, which enables us to do what the British used to do about 100 years ago (to evacuate products through Lagos Port Harcourt etc) and many of the important places that grew along the rail line have fallen from grace because of the way transport infrastructure has deteriorated in Nigeria."
He described the "emergence of petroleum products as the bane of development of our country," and responsible for suffering in Apapa today, because it is near the sea.
"It is unfortunate that we have destroyed the roads that we built over the years with tankers from Lagos to every corner of the country, making transportation ineffective.
"Is transportation important? Yes, if you look at the fact that towns have died. When the roads were built through hills, going up the North-East corridor, towns that rose up became very vibrant and thriving, and later the roads became impassable, and the towns literarily died. You don't need more evidence to show you that central to development of any modern economy is transportation," he said.
The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, assured of the agency's commitment to collaborate with the Institute, to enhance local capacity in the sector.
Represented by the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Ahmed Gambo, he expressed confidence in Jamoh that his intellectual dexterity would spur the Institute to make meaningful impact in the drive to reposition Nigeria's transport sector.
Former Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Bayo Sarumi, also emphasized the need to sanitise the Apapa environs to be able to enjoy optimal benefits from the ports.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, CIOTA, and the Elejinrin of Ejinrin Land, Oba Babatunde Balogun (Adetoyese Ejalonibu II), said the commitment of the Institute would boost the transport sector of the economy and facilitate the urgently needed drive to push the nation's economy to an enviable level.
Jamoh, is the Executive Director Finance and Administration at NIMASA, with over 25 years of public service experience