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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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Daily N800 Fee Covers Personal Income Taxes of Drivers, Others—LASG

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Daily N800 Fee

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Lagos State Government has clarified that the newly introduced N800 daily Consolidated Informal Transport Sector Levy in the state was a structure put in place to reduce multiple taxes, dues and levies to all agents of state and local governments.

On Tuesday, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Rabiu Olowo, at a ceremony in Alausa, officially unveiled the scheme along with other stakeholders. It was to harmonise dues collected by the government from commercial motorists at parks and garages across the state.

The commercial drivers were asked to pay a flat fee of N800 daily with effect from Tuesday, February 1, 2022, and it covers local government levy, fee for clearing waste from motor parks and personal income taxes of the drivers, with tax cards issued to them.

According to Mr Olowo, “The N800 is a single structured collection of the monies payable to all government agencies and parties who are directly or indirectly associated with the transport sector.

“What the government has done is to organise the collection and reduce the multiplicity of levies and all sorts of taxes, dues and monies due to government from the transport unions.

“Bus drivers will get tax cards, and the issue of arbitrary payments will be eradicated once they pay from the point of their loading each day.”

However, the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers Union (NURTW), Mr Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, emphasised that the daily N800 fee does not include the union’s normal statutory levy.

“The harmonised levy will not affect the national union ticket. What it is aimed at consolidating are all the levies collected by the government and it was the unions that approached the government to help us harmonise the payment of all the levies it has been collecting to prevent duplication of levies,” the transporter said.

The Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Transportation, Mr Toyin Fayinka, while also speaking at the event, said the development is the first approach towards a total restructuring of the transport sector.

According to him, all stakeholders were duly consulted before the final signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is aimed at bringing sanity into motor parks in line with best practices globally.

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Residents Gear up for Closure of Dopemu Road for Three Months

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Closure of Dopemu Road

By Adedapo Adesanya

Residents of Agege, Dopemu, Egbeda and environs are gearing up for the closure of Dopemu Road in the Agege area of Lagos State for three months by the state government for repairs.

The state government had announced on Sunday via a statement by the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Frederic Oladeinde, that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Road would be closed from 10 p.m. on Friday, January 21 to enable the rehabilitation and upgrade of the facility.

According to the Commissioner, the repairs would be done in three phases, with the first phase to focus on the Ipaja Road up to the Adealu Street junction, which would last three months.

He stated that alternative routes have been mapped out by the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to ensure effective control of vehicular movements along the axis, during the duration of the repairs.

Mr Oladeinde advised motorists inbound Dopemu Bridge from the Iyana Ipaja/Alagba axis to go through Ipaja Road to connect Oyewole Street into Seriki Street.

He said the movement would link them to Kolawole and Adebambo Streets, to access Adealu Road, to their desired destination.

“In the same vein, motorists heading toward Dopemu Bridge from Ipaja (Oke Koto) are to utilise Markaz Road to connect Awori Street and link Sarumi Alawo Street/Oniwaya and Surulere.

“With this, they will continue their journey or alternately, go through Alfa Nla from Old Ipaja Road, to connect Oniwaya/Surulere axis to reach the Dopemu Bridge.

“The alternative routes are in motorable conditions and will not pose any difficulty to motorists. We are also assuring that the LASTMA personnel will be at the diversion routes for efficient traffic management.

“I must commend Lagosians for their perseverance through the myriad of constructions going on across the state,” Mr Oladeinde said.

He then called for support from the residents, while assuring them that their sacrifice would yield the desired outcome for the state’s multi-modal transportation system.

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OYRTMA Gets New Operational Commands in Ogbomosho

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OYRTMA Fagbemi in Ogbomosho

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

To further enhance the safety of road users in the state, the Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA), has established a new operational command at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) and four other areas in Ogbomosho.

This development was confirmed by the Executive Chairman of OYRTMA, Dr Akin Fagbemi, during a working visit to the agency’s new commands in Ogbomosho on Tuesday.

He added that the new move will enhance administrative and operational effectiveness in the Ogbomosho zone, revealing that the agency now has more officers and men in the zone.

“We acknowledge the significance of Ogbomoso zone to the growth of the economy of Oyo State. Therefore, it is pertinent we do all within the ambit of the law to ensure free flow of traffic in the zone,” he said.

Mr Fagbemi said the mandate given to the agency by Governor Seyi Makinde is to operate effectively across the state and not just restrict its operations to a zone, thus the creation of the new commands in the Ogbomoso zone.

Meanwhile, the OYRTNA chief also used the occasion to pay a courtesy call to the Ogbomoso North Local Government Chairman, Mr Kabiru Akanji Adeoye.

The council boss expressed satisfaction to the agency for its timely intervention in issues pertaining to effective road traffic management, crash prevention, post-crash care and general road safety matters in the zone.

He emphasised that the total clampdown melted on ‘One-Way’ offenders by OYRTMA officials in the Zone has helped to significantly zero down cases of road crashes and saved the lives of numerous individuals.

“Before now, we only see and hear about OYRTMA’s activities in the State Capital, Ibadan but today, it is a great pleasure that the agency has not less than five specialised commands in Ogbomoso zone including the one newly created to ease traffic along LAUTECH and its environ,” he said.

Speaking further, he said: “Also, OYRTMA routine operations has helped us reduce crimes through the checking of Number plates and impounding vehicles, motorcycles etc without a fully registered number plate.”

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