The coronavirus is a large group of virus that is known to affect both human and animals. It causes a respiratory illness that ranges from the common cold to much more severe infections in humans. This disease mentioned above appears to have originated from the Wuhan seafood market in China, where wild animals, including Rabbits, Bats, Marmots, and snakes, are traded illegally. The Wuhan market was closed for inspection and cleaning on January 1st, 2020. By then, it appears that COVID-19, (which is now the accepted and official name of the virus) has already started to spread beyond the market. The virus has spread to virtually all parts of the world.
As of Tuesday, July 14th, 2020, the US has seen the highest number of cases, with over 1,180,634 confirmed cases and 68,934 deaths. In Nigeria, the outbreak of the pandemic was announced on February 27th, 2020, when an Italian tested positive for the virus in Lagos. Presently, Nigeria has over 33,153 confirmed cases and over 700 deaths, which resulted in a total lockdown in the country and has drastically crippled the country’s economy.
The lockdown measures implemented by the federal government and individual state governments in Nigeria have affected various aspects of the economy, including transportation, hospitality, retail, and other sectors. The restriction of movement has cost the transport sector billions of dollars in revenue, even with the local flights steadily coming back, inter-state movements on roads and rails have commenced, and partial shipments in place. Companies in the transport sector have had to cut down costs and have some of their staff sacked. In all of these, we will look at the economic impacts on the transport sector and the prospects that lie ahead.
Effects of COVID-19 on the transportation sector
- Loss of jobs
One of the most significant effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Nigerian transport system is the loss of jobs. Since airline, motor, and other transportation companies were not moving, it would be impossible for them to continue to pay their staff as their revenues are basically zero. For example, Arik Airlines had to cut down staff salaries by 80% and place 90% of their workers on leave without pay. Several other companies had to implement similar measures.
- Drop in revenue
Looking at the global recession coupled with the virus effect, the international air transport association (IATA) now estimates that industry passenger revenue could plummet 252 billion dollars or 44% below 2019 figures.
It is a known fact that transportation, to some large extent, contributes to the revenue of Nigeria’s economy. Let’s take Lagos, for instance, about 50% of all trips in Lagos are made by public transport. In Abuja, 57% of flights are by public transport and shared taxis, and this is similar in many other cities of Nigeria. So, this will crash Nigeria’s revenue sector.
- A decline in Nigeria’s GDP
The importance of the transportation sector in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized, especially because transportation is an essential service needed all over the nation to move passengers, goods, and services with safety and security.
Nigeria’s GDP will drop because of the lack of functioning of the sector. In fact, it will even fall drastically because Nigeria is still sluggishly trying to recover from the 2016 economic recession. The recession was caused by a fall out of global oil price crash and insufficient foreign exchange earnings to meet imports. In the spirit of economic recovery and the growth sustainability, the Nigerian federal budget for the 2020 fiscal year was prepared with significant revenue expectations with constable realization. Thanks to the declining crude oil prices and the COVID-19 effects on the transport sector and other areas of the economy, Nigeria will struggle to meet its 2020 fiscal responsibilities.
- Spike in prices of goods and services due to the increase in transportation costs
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a wild gap in the transportation sector as there is no steady supply of food items, goods, medical supplies as well as even certain services. This has really affected people most notably, the less privileged who do not have enough food items in their stores as well as drugs to keep them in their houses.
For example, in northern Nigeria, a place like Kano, to be precise, is known as the centre of commerce where people have to go out first to make ends meet through their businesses before returning to their families. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and restriction of movement, people do have difficulties in feeding as scarcity has driven up prices of the leading staple food beyond the reach of some people since lockdown was announced and even drugs are also relatively expensive.
Challenges Facing the Transportation Sector of Nigeria during this Pandemic
- Harder to travel
Thanks to the shutdown of the transportation sector, people found it hard to travel from one part of the country to another. Trips that were previously easy to go on have now become a nightmare for people. This even affected the movement of goods and products. As such, retail business people didn’t have access to the products they were selling to the people due to the difficulty in movement.
- Human lives are at risk
It puts the lives of passengers at high risks during transportation as many passengers will be discouraged to hop into vehicles thinking that someone may be infected. No doubt, people will be terrified and sceptical even after covid19 is gone.
- Shortage of goods and services
Due to the restriction and closure of borders, both inter and intrastate, there was a shortage in the supply of goods and services while the demand was high. Therefore, the capital inflow of businesses was affected.
- Loss of source of income
Considering the fact that the transportation system is not functioning as before, it would really go a long way in reducing the capital inflow of businesses. This might put the lives of the masses at risk, most especially those who solely depend on business as their only source of livelihood.
The Prospects of the Transportation Sector
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused so much havoc in the transportation sector, we still see prospects in the sectors as well as believe that there are some possible solutions to all the aforementioned challenges. Below are the points:
- Promote the railway transportation system
Nigeria should work hard to promote and develop the railway transportation system because railway transport has plenty of coaches, and people will be well spaced to maintain social distancing, preventive measures of COVID-19.
- Support the private transport sector
The government should work towards adapting the substantial donation of private vehicles to its citizens no matter how small or low-profile they can be. It can be motorcycles, tricycles and even cars as this will give the citizens independence and there will not be too much congestion of public transport. This is one of the most expensive means of solving transportation services in the period of covid19.
- Drop Oil prices
The government of Nigeria should try as much as possible to curtail the price of petroleum to favour commercial users and suit their demands.
- Modernize and Transform the Transport Sector
After the lifting of the ban on travel, the government should create a new culture in our nation’s transport system. The focus should be on the various ways of managing the right blend of mobility options. This can be achieved by adopting modern methods of transportation. We can build a more diversified economy and boost the transport sector, allowing Nigeria to create higher standards in various parts of the economy.
- Increase the Transport Sector’s Annual Budget
The government doesn’t pay much attention to the transport sector. The meagre allocation to the ministry is evidence of that. This is also seen in the state and local levels. People with almost zero formal training or education are left to operate and manage the national union of road transport workers (NURTW). This independent Nigeria trade union serves the interest of transport workers in the country. They are supposed to be comprised of people with knowledge and expertise to fight for social stability for all workers in the transport industry, as defined in its constitution. Instead, the union has become an entity for extorting money from passengers, oppressing them, and eliminating genuine investors.
Encourage public-private partnership (PPP)
Another solution is that Nigeria’s transport system should get involved and partner with a more advanced transport nation, encouraging more professionalism, regulation, and monitoring of the sector, utilization of modern technology and communication systems, rolling out modern policies, and ensuring it works in the Nigerian environment.
The coronavirus pandemic has opened a huge gap in the industry, and it needs to be closed urgently. If not, Nigeria’s poor transportation system will continue to be poorly regulated and monitored. The use of motorbikes, tricycles, poor transport infrastructures and lack of modern transport technology system in driving the industry, absence of modern transport policies, almost zero attention by the government to the sector, lack of professionalism in the sector are some of the areas with gaps that need to be closed to ensure the efficiency, repositioning, and growth of the transport sector.
Our nation’s transportation system before the coronavirus pandemic was in a sorry state, and so, Nigerian authorities need to begin strategizing towards ensuring that the wide gaps are closed. This will ensure that there would always be a steady supply of food, medical supplies, essential goods, and services, with minimal delays or restrictions when accessing them. Thus, this would help maintain a balance in our nation’s supply chain networks for the sustenance of life and our economy.
About the Writer
Khadijah Saidu Jagaba is a Gbagyi girl from Shiroro local government area of Niger State. Her father is the secretary of the football association in Niger state. The mother is a teacher at IBB primary school Minna. She’s the only female child of her parent. She has two elder brothers and two younger brothers.
Khadijah started her nursery school at Hill-top model school, Minna. She did her primary and secondary school in the same school where she served as the head girl, the Amira (female president of MSS) and the editor in chief of press club. Khadijah has represented her school in so many competitions, one of which she won a laptop and 15k for her school for coming first. She’s currently a level 300 student of the department of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano. At 19, she has done pretty well in the world of creativity. Most of all, she’s a girl child advocate. She has been advocating for the girl child with so much passion.
Khadijah is the author of “My Virgin Eyes“, a collection of six short stories, which was published under the umbrella of Hill-top Creative Arts Foundation, Minna. She attended the 2019 IWP workshop held in Abuja. She took part in the girl nation workshop organized by the French embassy. She attended the ANA general election at Makurdi, Benue state in 2017 and she also attended the 2016 ANA convention at Abuja. She’s the winner of the tuition scholarship award of Hadiza Ibrahim Aliyu schools festival 2019 (HAISFEST) organized by Hill-top Creative Arts Centre Minna, Niger state. Jagaba has been interviewed by many media houses, which include: Splendor of Dawn Poetry Foundation Abuja, Ultimate FM, Minna, Niger state, etc. She’s currently an OAP on BUK FM.