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The Economic Consequences of Informality in the Transport Sector

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Timi Olubiyi Small Business Improve Profitability

By Timi Olubiyi, PhD

The new year is here, it is my prayer that 2022 will be a profitable year for all individuals, businesses, and households. Our new year resolutions at every level must include enhancing productivity and improving performance.

Without a doubt, transportation is central to this and can be an effective indicator of performance in any economy, business, and quality of life. Simple things like getting to work, school, meetings, appointments, trade facilitation, transacting, moving cargoes, travels, and even delivery of social services such as rescues during emergencies can become extremely difficult with poor transportation.

In fact, business decision-making and access to everything for economic progress hinge strongly on effective transportation I must say.

Certainly, every nation regardless of its population size, level of development, and industrial capacity can benefit from an efficient transportation network be it road, waterways, rail, or air transport. But on the contrary transport poverty exist where inefficiency in all transportation modes is prevalent within an economy. Such is the case in many African countries and cities, including, Benin, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Lusaka, Zambia, and a host of others.

In many of the developed countries, transportation plays a significant role in the ease of doing business and the government plays an integral role in the implementation and administration. A recent visit to the United Kingdom (UK) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) strongly indicated that, where there is efficient transportation and fewer traffic congestions, the economy and businesses are positively impacted.

From my observation in the two countries, public transportation which includes buses, taxis, water ferries, trains, trams, and the metros are regulated adequately by the government and it is not completely private-sector driven, making it so efficient and reliable. Apparently as noted, where private companies are involved in the operations, it is usually on an agreed model such as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Ironically, across many African cities particularly in my country Nigeria, the unreliability of the transport system has continued to limit access to services, business, trade facilitation, the attraction of foreign direct investments, and also in the revenue drive of the government.

The pilot region of observation is Lagos State the economic centre of Nigeria, where transport operation is largely run informally by private individuals. This makes the services undesirable because of the inefficiencies that exist due to under-regulations.

For instance, car reliance keeps compounding in the State because of poor demand responsiveness of public transports, commuters then tend to avoid the long queues and waiting hours at bus stops, and the associated risk of using public minibuses called Danfo. But the result is usually wastage of productive hours by many commuters in traffic congestions.

Sometimes, bike taxis which are usually referred to as Okada are considered for mobility. Though this trend depicts transport poverty, it is largely heightened by the informality of the public transport sector, widespread unemployment, lack of worthiness of the available transportations, lack of adequate maintenance system, giving rise to the high traffic congestion on the roads and expensive transport fares.

Basically, the over-reliance on one mode- road transport and over-exposure to informality are the issues that are mainly slowing down growths in the sector. As widely noted, private participation, with little or no government entry barrier promotes informality. Such as the operations of the non-conventional ferry on the waterways, motorized tricycles, and the Okadas and Danfos within the hinterlands. Sadly, these are the only affordable services to the poor despite the widespread insecurity and risks.

In the UK particularly in London, a mobile application (app) offers most of the information about the public transport system, and regulations in the city including fares, routes, and time of arrivals and departures. That means if you must operate government has to know, this procedure reduces informality. In both UK and UAE, the logistics and business supply chains are effective because they rely on the transportation infrastructures and strict regulations available and that reduces the cost of business operations.

For most public transportation closed-circuit television (CCTV) is installed for safety and security businesses. Transport cards are also used on most of these public transports for ease of payment, this offers a hassle-free environment for the populace, visitors, and tourists. Strict regulations also avail the government the opportunity to monitor many of these services, ensure accountability on the part of the operators, and for government to monitor service trends.

For instance, in UAE just in a year, there were around 600 million rides on public transport (in a city of 3 million population). This is an indication of the rate of conversion to the public system by visitors and residents in a region that used to be primarily private vehicle driven.

This is an indication that individuals move with ease and travel on public transportation because they are timely, affordable, and adequately available. With such a system in place, businesses can make projections and enjoy a reliable supply chain, with no uncontrollable logistic issues. With this experience, I have a strong conviction that there is a direct relationship, between the development of the transport system and the ease of doing business in any country.

In fact, without a doubt, it is easy to conclude that transportation can be a useful criterion for measuring development in a country. Because if transportation is made efficient it must impact positively on the economic development of a country and also improve the performance of the businesses in that country. It is no brainer or magic such a system can happen in Nigeria, with improved regulation, reduction of informality with sufficient investments in the sector.

Even though in Nigeria it has been a situation of hectic traffic congestion even at the ports, poorly maintained roads, overstressed railways, underutilization of the waterways, long hours of waiting to have access, inadequate infrastructure, there should be a concerted effort to raise the percentage of public transportation, expand the modes, and offer stricter regulatory regime.

For safety and security reasons, the ease of entry into the sector by informal transport operators needs to be reviewed because it appears that is majorly the issue. Government entry barriers are obstacles that can make it difficult for an individual or business to operate in the sector, such as what is available in the aviation industry.

It is important to improve policies and regulations in transport services, expand transportation networks to achieve large-scale economic growth, and modernization. Though it can be argued, effective transportation can alleviate the level of poverty in the country. Because the current chaotic congestions on the roads and in the ports are essentially aiding market failures and hindering the ease of doing business in the country which are enablers of business closures and impoverishment.

Hence, when transportation is effective and efficient, businesses will be able to make adequate projections, improve production, produce faster, reach consumers faster, attend business meetings promptly and all these stimulate the economy, create jobs, and can reduce poverty.

Truthfully, the transportation sector can offer the needed diversification of the revenue generation drive of the government. I am aware that the current public debt of the country is around N38 trillion, according to figures released by the Debt Management Office (DMO) and this is mainly due to revenue challenges. In my opinion, an effectively regulated and efficient transportation system can be revenue-yielding for the government.

In conclusion, it is also important to note that an improved transportation mode- air, rail, water networks and the expansion of road networks can increase economic productivity, cut the cost of production, and enhance the ease of doing business in the country. For thinkers, the issues mentioned above can adequately present mind-blowing opportunities, particularly for investors and businesses. To this end, businesses and individuals can have better mobility, access and livelihood. Good luck!

How may you obtain advice or further information on the article?

Dr Timi Olubiyi, an Entrepreneurship & Business Management expert with a PhD in Business Administration from Babcock University Nigeria, is a prolific investment coach, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: drtimiolubiyi@gmail.com, for any questions, reactions, and comments.

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Bolt Strengthens Commitment to Safety With Bella

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bolt in-app calling feature

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A new archetype character aimed to improve customer experience and demonstrate its commitment to the safety of drivers and passengers has been introduced by an e-hailing platform, Bolt.

The new persona called Bella is in fulfilment of the company’s promise to ease mobility in Nigeria and provide a better experience and safer journeys for its growing community of friends.

Bella replaces the old character called Uche and it underscores the company’s companionship and willingness to introduce new features which enhance convenience on Bolt.

This transition is coming after the platform recently launched a dedicated safety website (safety.bolt.eu/ng) to improve customer experience.

“Since our launch in Nigeria, Uche has built a community of friends with Bolt riders and drivers. We want to build on Uche’s community and goodwill with a new persona who would remain committed to all our users.

“Therefore, we have introduced Bella and our dedicated safety website. We are excited about this new phase because it means a better experience and safer journeys for our growing community of friends,” Bolt said in a statement.

Bolt said its safety features are consistently updated to ensure that all parties remain safe before, during, and after a trip.

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Oyo to Register Commercial Motorcycle Riders, Capture Fingerprints, Others

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commercial motorcycle riders

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Very soon, commercial motorcycle riders in Oyo State will require identification numbers and registration jackets to ply their trades in the state.

This is part of efforts to curb every form of criminality and other social vices and regulate the activities of commercial motorcyclists to also prevent the breakdown of law and order.

Business Post gathered that the registration will require each commercial bike rider’s name, address, fingerprint, passport-sized photograph, and a unique ID number.

At a stakeholders’ meeting with over 100 commercial riders’ association leaders in Ibadan on Thursday, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr Musibau Babatunde, said the registration is part of the Oyo State government’s drive to ensure the effectiveness of the ongoing state-wide residents’ registration programme, saying the exercise will help in planning properly for the security architecture of the state, in the long-run.

“States across the south-west have been banning operations of commercial motorcyclists, but we know that will have its own socio-economic challenges. So rather than banning them, we felt it is pertinent to know the number of bike riders in the State and use that for our security architecture,” he said.

The Commissioner added that there are multi-dimensional benefits accruable to the registration exercise, both for the motorcyclists and the state, in terms of security and economic planning.

Also, his counterpart in the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Wasiu Olatubosun, explained that the registration will help regulate the influx of commercial motorcyclists into the state.

Mr Olatubosun emphasised that the registration will be free, adding that the proactive approach to regulating the activities of commercial motorcyclists by Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration will prevent the breakdown of law and order.

“We will set up a task force consisting of both the union and other relevant agencies that will make sure that unregistered riders don’t operate within the state,” he said.

On his part, the Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT and e-Governance, Mr Bayo Akande, said that the registration process was initiated by the state government to distinguish every rider operating in the state.

“Actually, registration exercises had commenced months back at every Local government and office of the Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority. All is now set to provide numbered jackets, in order to identify riders who are duly registered with the state,” the Governor’s aide said.

He said part of the dividends of the registration is the provision of health insurance and other palliatives for riders in the state.

Responding on behalf of the Okada riders, Mr Yusuf Muritala, commended Governor Makinde for not considering a ban on their activities, assuring that his colleagues are ready to cooperate with the state government to register.

He, therefore, expressed the readiness of the commercial motorcycle riders in Oyo State to abide by the rules and regulations established by the government to regulate the activities of their operations, pledging the support of all motorcyclist associations in the state to the government.

However, Mr Muritala appealed to the consultant in charge of the registration exercise to work with leaders in each zone to ensure an expansion of registration points for commercial motorcyclists.

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Lagos to Crush 250 Commercial, Power Bikes

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power bikes

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

About 250 commercial and power bikes have been seized by the Lagos State Taskforce for various violations and would be crushed this weekend at the taskforce crushing site in Alausa, Ikeja.

This was disclosed by the chairman of the taskforce, Mr Shola Jejeloye, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), during a visit to the headquarters of the agency in Bolade Oshodi.

Mr Jejeloye said despite the focus on commercial motorcycles, popularly known as ‘Okada’, the State Transport Sector reform laws prohibit motorbikes of any capacity from plying one-way.

According to him, power bikes and motorcycles with capacity above the required standard were confiscated for either driving against traffic (one-way), conveying passengers or plying BRT corridors across the State.

“Riding a power bike does not make you immune to traffic laws of the state, especially when it has to do with riding against traffic on one-way, which is highly dangerous to road users and even pedestrians.

“Any motorbike violating the State traffic laws will be met with the same level of punishment as the Okada riders,” he stated.

The Chairman further disclosed that dispatch riders who have seized the opportunity of the absence of Okada on the highways to transport commuters on their bikes would also have their motorbikes impounded.

He urged all dispatch and delivery bike owners to warn their riders to desist from lifting passengers or risk forfeiting the bikes to the state government, stressing that anyone caught contravening the traffic laws of the State will not be spared.

The police officer used the occasion to reiterate the commitment of the taskforce to enforce the ban on the activities of commercial motorcycle operators in six local governments and nine local council development areas of the state by expanding its tentacles to power bikes and dispatch riders who violate the Traffic Law.

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