The Federal Government is targeting collaboration with private investors in developing truck transit parks estimated to cost over N4.8bn in different parts of the country.
The objective of establishing the parks is to address the menace of truck congestion at the seaports and the indiscriminate parking on road shoulders and access ramps on road corridors across the country.
To get the private sector to buy into the project, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council on Thursday in Lagos held a breakfast meeting with stakeholders where the government highlighted the opportunities in the parks as well as inland dry ports, and explored ways of raising private capital for their development.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that the Federal Government had provided institutional and legal framework for the establishment of the TTPs through the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan 2014-2043, and designated them as priority projects.
He said feasibility studies had been conducted for the establishment of the TTPs in Lokoja, Kogi State; Obollo-Afor, Enugu State; Ogere, Ogun State; Jebba, Kwara State; Port Novo Creek, Lagos State; and Umunede, Delta State.
“These locations and others to be identified from time to time, in addition to the Ore Sunshine City and others being planned by the Kaduna State Government are alternative strategies to address the menace of truck congestion at the seaports and the indiscriminate parking on road shoulders and access ramps on road corridors across the country,” Amaechi explained.
The minister noted that due to paucity of funds and competing needs for the available limited resources, the government would not be able to solely fund the establishment of the parks, hence the decision to go into Public-Private Partnerships with private investors to realise the projects.
He stated, “The Federal Government is desirous of entering into long-term contractual relationship with private investors to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the TTPs on concession agreements. The potential long-term gain in lower life-cycle cost, efficiency and effectiveness in delivery, operations and maintenance of the TTPs are the incentives for government to situate them in a dynamic legal framework and enforcement capable of not only sustainable investment, but getting adequate return for investors.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Infrastructure, Olukolade Sofola, said rather than see challenges in Nigeria’s infrastructure sector, there were tremendous opportunities that investors could take advantage of.
Transportation, according to him, has to be addressed in an integrated way to enhance the diversification of the nation’s economy.
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who spoke on orderliness on Nigerian roads, lamented that roads in the country had been turned into slaughter slabs because of their poor state and recklessness of drivers.
He stated that while he was a lecturer at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) between 1975 and 1984, the Ibadan-Ife Road used to record accidents on daily basis claiming lives.
While commending the initiative to establish the TTPs, Soyinka stated that drivers in the country did not have the understanding that their vehicles were lethal weapons that must be regularly tested and certified fit for the road.
“We need to make the drivers feel as human beings; that they are part of the civilised human society and not sleeping by the roadside,” he added.
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema, said the bourse was ready to support the establishment of the TTPs and inland dry ports with funds if the impediments to doing so were removed.
He stated that it had been estimated that the funding gap for infrastructure in the country was $750bn over 30 years and that $25bn would be required annually, adding that government budgets could not finance such, rather private capital would need to come to the rescue.
According to him, the NSE is committed to exploring innovative ways to funding infrastructure in the country and advised the government and other stakeholders to leverage special purpose vehicles to finance infrastructural projects through bond issuance.
Onyema said the Exchange would soon raise N200bn in infrastructure debt fund ideal for the TTPs and other projects.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Adamu Aliero, stated that the government had no business running the dry ports and the TTPs, adding that the National Assembly would come up with strong legislation to back their establishment and operation in order to ensure their viability.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, Mr. Pat Asadu, said alternative finance models had to be explored to develop transport infrastructure as handouts from annual budgets were no longer adequate.
He added that the legislature would make laws to protect investments by foreign and local investors in the country.