Cross-border trade: FG signs treaty on roads

The Federal Government has already signed a treaty which will preserve the quality of Nigerian roads and transportation infrastructure, by regulating the quantity of goods a vehicle can put on an axle within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and beyond.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this at a one-day public enlightenment on developments in the road sector, which held at the Nigeria Air Force Conference Centre in Abuja, yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari was represented on the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

Said Fashola: “Our economic growth, national productivity and job opportunities will be impacted by the conclusions and resolutions of this meeting.

“For example, how do we optimise the opportunities that lie in road networks like trans-saharan highway that connects Nigeria to Chad, Niger, Tunisia, Mali and Algeria; the Lagos-Abidjan Highway through Benin, Togo and Ghana, or the Enugu-Cameroon Highway through Abakaliki–Ogoja, Ikom and Mfum?
“For the benefit of those who may be unaware, there are now existing treaty obligations within the West African sub-region and beyond, that regulate the amount of load any goods vehicle can put on an axle and, by extension, on the road, in order to do business within ECOWAS and beyond.

“I must thank you Mr. President, for finally signing the instruments of ratification as soon as it was brought to his attention, after many years of delay, prior to his tenure. Our compliance with these regulations will open a massive door of opportunity and prosperity of cross-border trade to Nigerians engaged in the transport business.
This was why this meeting was convened because when president Buhari once said that ‘we will change our habits and we will change Nigeria,’ I believe this was one of the things he had in mind. While it is true that we could have done better by way of massive investment in our transport infrastructure, during the windfall of income from oil, this government is now rapidly and aggressively addressing road transport infrastructure repairs, rehabilitation and construction, as many of you who travel regularly will attest.

“There is no state in Nigeria, today, where you will not see our contractors busy at work. The crux of this meeting is to first acknowledge the president is only one man who cannot be everywhere and, secondly, to recognise that we are the actors of the change that is required to take us to prosperity and thirdly, to recognise that the way we use the roads, when finally completed, will determine how long they last and whether they deliver prosperity or not.

“All over the world, one common thread of prosperous societies is their level of compliance with laws and regulations.   So, in those societies, you will see trucks parked in proper parks which create jobs, and not on the highways, which impede access and opportunity.
In those societies, you will see trucks carrying specified tonnage of cargo because it protects the road, and allows for it to be used again and again.
Therefore, while the temptation to overload and carry more with one truck, against regulation and good practice may be appealing, it is ultimately a barrier to prosperity.

“Such practices may provide cheap and perhaps, corrupt riches and income, but, they do more damage to the roads from which the cheap income is made.”