Alh. Musa Shehu Isiwele, National Chairman RTEAN
Road transport is an essential input to income generation, to consumption and wider domestic life. Estimates suggest that if all other drivers of growth were to increase by 10% and its infrastructure were to stay constant, then realised growth in income would be just 9%, i.e. 1% point less than it otherwise would have been.
Studies of particular projects or types of transport improvement point to positive impacts on a wide range of economic variables including city size and employment. A transport improvement may attract private investment to a place. Transport is just one of a package of policy measures that play a role in shaping the level and location of private investment.
Road transport fosters intense economic interaction that raises productivity; this can occur in clusters within narrowly defined areas or more widely by linking areas, it shapes the level and location of private investment, potentially leading to higher levels of economic activity in some areas.
London cannot be imagined without the underground, or business activity without a road network. Road transport sector improvement in infrastructure and services will bring benefits to users, existing and new.
It will also change economic geography, enabling cities to be larger, better connected to each other and to their hinterlands, and better able to specialise and trade.
Some areas will become more attractive places for investment leading to a reorganisation of economic activity within overall nation, or within a wider regional or global economy. The reorganisation will bring productivity increases that can spread beyond transport users, and it will create demand for labour, potentially raising wages.
As the transport sector are in Nigeria presently, there still needs for legislative reforms as regards to Road Transport and Safety Bill that will be more comprehensive with emphasises on bringing in road safety practices through regulation, extending its authority even to the design of motor vehicles, construction of roads, fuel quality and emission norms etc.
This Bill has to lay down the competency standards that have to be cleared for issue of a driving license and that will welcome upgrading of status of the driving profession.
It will mitigate the emergence of more qualified and skilled drivers driving passengers and transport vehicles, in turn can reduce the incidence of over speeding, over-loading and better adherence to traffic rules.
Respectability to the profession would encourage more youth to choose driving as a profession which in turn would reduce the shortage of skilled drivers in the sector and generate employment, remove the over-ever teeming youth from the status of redundancy.
Road transport is the nerve of a country. Apart from building highways and roads, government need to focus as well on the betterment of the drivers on these roads who are rendering a public service through their livelihood.
Some owners might be single owners or entrepreneurs but mostly family based.
Government need to look at the human manpower behind the wheels on the road. Majority of the freight movement today is by road and carried by private drivers who drive trucks/lorries or vans/tempos. These drivers are largely unorganized; do not have any fixed working hours, benefit of minimum wages, defined rest period or social security coverage etc. Among the causes of road accident identified the fault of the driver stands at 77.5 percent while the other causes such as defect of the vehicle accounted for 1.6 percent, defect in road condition 1.5 percent.
A greater proportion of these accidents happen in roads other than national or state highways which indicate that there could be other externalities in the cause of accidents.
When each happens driver either pay the penalties or bribes to evade penalty as to run the vehicles on the road is their livelihood.
We need a change in strategy.
The growth of the Nigeria economy and mobility requirements can be associated with the increase in the volume of road transport. Processing of large numbers of transportation data and thus the use of databases is a natural need of our times.
The information and communication technologies represent a powerful tool for decision-making and management support as well as for communication inside the company and with the customers. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the current trends in the development of corporate information technology; this area should not be underestimated. In the period of globalisation, it is necessary to invest in information technology with regard for planned development and for the vision of building a single national area and creation of a competitive transport system.
The Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria when RTEAN under, the leadership of the Executive National Chairman, RTEAN, Alhaji Musa Shehu Isiwele are driving towards that realization by launching national biometric registration and identification scheme for its members with the aim of ensuring strategic repositioning and revitalization of the association as well maintaining and keeping a reliable, accurate and data base for the organisation.
The scheme which was launched in Abuja at NAF event center in partnership with Richfield Technologies Limited and Speed Identity AB, Sweden on Alhaji Isiwele on his speech at the event in Abuja, stressed on the difference between the past data capturing and the new biometric registration; the former enable the association on capturing data record of members, while the latter was open and accessible to relevant government agencies like Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), police, SSS, Ministries, thereby creating if not only national but common database where comprehensive data details of members can be accessed.
However, this newest computerization would go a long way as security mechanism required by government, security agencies and other relevant organisations, data required are made readily available.
Isiwele further stated: “We have come to the practical realization that our progress level may be grossly hampered or hindered, if an effective Data Base Management System (DBMS) is not in place.
“Let me say that this project of establishing a reliable and most dependable data base for our teeming members across the federation is very critical to our developmental quest and workable partnership with the police and other security agencies Nigeria.
“This is because it will stem or put to check cases of impersonation, touting or wrong people fraudulently using the name of RTEAN to cause problem or commuting crime.”
He made promise of extending it to other zones to ensures in its sustainability.
Alhaji Musa Isiwele at helm of administration RTEAN, the association has been able to sign “Partnership Agreement” with federal ministry of works to use its workshop nationwide to assemble vehicles and provides after sales maintenance under its Nation Mass Transit Scheme.
He put the motion with strong conviction that launching of Mass Transport Scheme and RTEAN bus will not only reduce transportation cost for suffering mass but cater for disabled and students with sustainable payment platform with 50% discount while creating job opportunities for ever teeming youth.
Alhaji Musa Shehu Isiwele on the steering seat of one of the certified and recognised transport association in Nigeria with
membership strength of about 16million people, he has been able to bring so many reforms and reposition within former unorganized union.
Alh. Musa Shehu Isiwele has been able to bring insanity of the organisation into an absolute halt by championing systems that promote virtues of tolerance, patriotism and nonviolence among the members of the association such that no member of the association has been arrested or prosecuting for the common cult clashes that bedevil other associations for so long.
He introduced a routine training and reorientation programmes in partnership with other stake holders in the transport industry.
His own words,
‘My vision is to help the government of the day to bridge the unemployment gap by providing employment to the teeming Nigerian youths in the transport industry as a way of engaging them productively and thus keep them off violence tendencies’.
One cannot fail to notice that a less dramatic change, but one with a potentially far larger impact on employment is taking place in Road transport system today.
More can be achieved still, if government are able to key in to Isiwele proposed innovative plan of establishing TRANSPORT BANK. Providing 3% interest soft loan for prospective transporters and to strategically erect tollgates at strategic places, thereby generating billions of naira for road maintenance, will boost employment within the sector.
There is a vital needs for this present administration to start exploring Road transport as one of the important employment generating sectors especially in the rural areas and concerted efforts needs to be taken to promote employment in this sector.
RTEAN Chief, in one of recent chat with media crew during the recent fuel hike, the expected on impact increase in fares and lives of commuters, in which the RTEAN National President, Isiwele reiterated that the Road Transport Employers Association had pledged to aid the Federal Government of Nigeria in easing transportation challenges in view of the hike in prices of petroleum products, especially the Premium Motor Spirit popularly called Fuel.
He went further to described the price hike of fuel as a necessary evil that may bring an end to the perennial corruption that has engulf the so-called subsidy where few fuel importers continue to holding government and Nigerians at ransom:
‘If these drastic measures are not taken, the refineries won’t work because these importers will do everything to frustrate the emergence of new refineries and would not allow the old ones to work optimally.
He went further to emphasize that You could remember former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan made attempts at removing subsidy which costs Nigeria monies that would have been used in strengthening the other social sectors. Those moves were resisted by Nigerians but events unfolding shows we cannot continue to prolong our evil days’
Alh. Isiweke pledged to do whatever necessary to help the government of the day to cushion the effect.
He blamed corruption as the reason why transport sector has not been strengthened in Nigeria.
He stressed “if the government mass transit scheme has been carried out the way it ought to, by now, the effect would have been easily absorbed. In previous times, we have seen government buying buses for mass transit schemes only for those that should implement the scheme to distribute the vehicles to their family members, friends and associates to manage. You can imagine a situation like that and what will be of such venture”.
Some of the immediate measures government should put in place according to Alh. Isiwele to ensure that the impact of the price hike will not so adversely affect Nigerians are; to partner organizations like RTEAN and other organized organizations in the transport sector.
FG can liaise with the National Assembly to come up with laws to regulate tenancy as the next thing that will follow the hike is arbitrary increase of house rent by landlords.
Government should device a veritable means of price control of essential commodities as it is done elsewhere like Niger Republic and Ghana.
Government should open up rural and farm roads so that agricultural produce could leave rural areas to the city centers with ease.
Asked why the RTEAN is not participating in the nationwide strike called by NLC,
Alh. Isiwele opined that strike action by labour has never been the way out. In his language ‘Why must all strike actions be centered around fuel hike?’ Why doesn’t labour strike when landlords exploit civil servants or even when corruptions were perpetrated by those saddled with leadership positions in the country? He queried.
Isiwele has been making calls for government to get involved in solving prevalent transport in Nigeria by massively investing in the sector in partnership with relevant organization and stakeholders in transport industry.
‘Government alone cannot bridge the transportation gap and cushion the effect of this hike.
“RTEAN is engaging the FG on a plan to provide thousands of high capacity buses, taxis and mini buses. Such buses would be classified in such a manner that students and the disabled will pay less since they are not economically empowered as the working class.
If we secure supports through Sovereign Bonds and Waivers, RTEAN will make transportation affordable by Nigerians despite the hike in fuel prices”.
In keeping with the positive footprints that has been achieved so far under his tenure were made possible by his strategic approach of
“Sustainable Engagement with Governments and State-owned Enterprises” and these has been central point to his achieving these impacts within the transport sector.