“In all fields, engineers must have flair, good grasp of communication, be able to express ideas convincingly, be cost conscious and have an awareness of the public interest”
-Middelesex University, London. England.
Nigeria is currently facing serious economic challengesaggravated by high bill of imported petroleum products. This leads to a vicious cycle of high demand of foreign exchange, depreciation of the Naira and high cost of petroleum products.Hence government subsidy to make petroleum products affordable to its citizen. Attempts by previous government to remove the subsidy have led to serious social economical upheavals. Since economists have failed to solve this problem, engineers should intervene to break this vicious cycle.
Petroleum products are mainly used for the following:
– Road transportation of passengers and goods (using PMS and AGO)
– Fueling of power generating sets (PMS and AGO)
– Industrial heating (AGO and LPFO)
– Air transportation (aviation fuel)
– Domestic and commercial cooking (DPK and LNG)
It is estimated that90% of PMS and 60% of AGO are used for road transportation vehicles. And as at June 2015, these products were wholly imported, with PMS subsided for the consumers.
Consequently,if the consumption of PMS and AGO can be reduced drastically, through the formulation of and implementation of an appropriate policy on transportation, the demand forthese products could be met by local production capacity and thus eliminate the subsidy on expensive imports
Construction and manufacturing of transportation infrastructure and vehicles and their maintenances are engineering products and responsibilities, therefore it becomes the burden of our engineers to formulate a new transportation policy that will reduce consumption of fuel to our local refining capacity and thus eliminate subsidy on imports.
2. REVIEW OF CURRENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Whatever policy exists for transportation is either deficient or not implemented. Certainly there is no any organized or coordinated transportation system in this country.
The players in the sector are not coordinated and can be classified as:
– One vehicle individual transporter
– Tradeunions, (NURTW, RTEAN etc.)
– Corporate transporters (Peace Mass Transit, ABC Transport etc.)
– Public ( Govt.) transport authorities (NSTA, Abuja Urban Mass Transit,)
These operators use the following vehicles:
2.1 Urban Transportation:
· motorbikes ( kabu-kabu, okada, going)
· tricycles (keke NAPEP, kekeMarwa)
· 5 seater petro engine cars
· 12-18 seater mini buses
· Large capacity buses
· rail transport
· ferry transport
There is no statistic to show passengers conveyed by each of the above.However it is estimated that more than 70%ofpassengers are conveyed by the first three modes of transport listed above.Indeed the large capacity buses are in use in few cities only and it is only Lagos that has any functional rail and ferry services. Thus most Nigerian urban transport use motorbike, tricycles, cars and mini buses.
2.2 RuralTransportation (Passengers and Farm produce)
Main modes of transport are:
· 5 seater petro engine cars
· Petrol engine pick up vans
Except for some riverine areas, 100% of rural movement is by above road transport.
2.3 InterCityPassenger Transport
The vehicles useas:
· 5 seater petro engine cars
· 12-18 seater buses
· Large capacity buses
Again it is estimated that over 80% of intercity passengers are convened by the first three modes of transport listed above.
2.4 Freight Transport
· 3- 40 tons trucks
Only about 2% and 1% of total national freight are conveyed by rail and water transport respectively. The balance is by road trucks
2.5 Fluid Transportation
Mainly conveys using:
· Sea barges
Although NNPC has extensive pipelines network across the country, vandalism and maintenance negligence have rendered them to be underutilized. Consequently, haulage of petroleum products is mainly by road tankers and water vessels.
3. EFFECTS OF EXISTING TRANSPORT POLICIES ON THE ECONOMY
It can deduced from the last Section of this Paper that more than 70% of passengers are conveyedby road vehicles using PMS and about 95% of goods are hauled by the road vehicles using PMS or AGO.
This huge consumption of PMS, about 40m litres per day, cannot be refined by our refineries even if the four refineries resume full production. The balance must be imported at high cost then subsidized.
However, if PMS consumptioncan be reduced to quantities produced by our own refineries then subsidy will be eliminated. This is the challenge for engineers in the transportation sector.
4. NEW POLICY ON TRANSPORTATION
The only solution economic policy advisers could recommend to Government to reduce or eliminate subsidy on PMS is removal of the subsidy and allow private sector toimport and sell the products at prices dictated by market forces.
This recommendation will only lead to thefollowing dire consequences;
– Importation of low quality products with resultant negative effects on vehicles’performance and life of engines
– Huge foreign exchange demand leading to further depreciation ofNaira
– High demand of bank credit resulting in higher interest rates
– Depletion of foreign reserve.
– Large number of fuel tankers on the road, resulting in shorter road life span and accidents
Engineers should proffer a less costly solution to the government by recommending measures that reduce the high demand of PMS to the volume of our refining output, thus eliminating subsidy on import supplement.
Consequently the following recommendations are presented, for further deliberation and analysis by fellow engineers and other stakeholder in the transport sector, as inputs for a new policy on transportation that will address not only petroleum products subsidy but other socio economic and safety challenges facing our transportation system
Provide fuel efficient mass transit system for:
4.1 Urban transport
· Prohibit use of motorbikes for passenger transport
· Restrict use of tricycles to neighborhoods
· Encourage replacement of petrol engines taxis with diesel engine ones
· Allow use of mini buses to replace motorbikes and tricycles to routes currently ply by them
· Encourage use of large capacity buses for long destinations
· Encourage employers of over 50 workers to provide staff buses
· Encourage the provision of rail transport in cities of over one million population
· Encourage provision of safe ferry services in Lagos and other riverine areas.
· Discourage use of motorbikes for short distance passenger carriage and encourage their replacement with tricycles
· Encourage use ofdiesel engine mini buses for longer routes
· Encourage use of diesel engine pick-ups and vans for transportation of farm produce
· Encourage use of safe and comfortableferries for riverine rural areas
· Prohibit use of cars for this service
· Encourage use of diesel engine 18 seater and above buses for short (less than 100km distance0)intercity travels
· Encourage use of large capacity luxurious buses for long distance travels
· Improve existing rail service and expand the network
4.4 Goods Haulage
· Provide cheap and efficient goods rail service to discourage use of road haulage
· Dredge rivers Niger and Benue to encourage use ofgoods barges
4.5 Fluid Transportation
· Restore use of pipelines for crude and refined products transportation and extend the pipelines and depots to new states.
· Impose heavy taxes on road tankers and reduce bridging services
4.6 Air Travel
- · Impose heavy taxes on use of private and chartered small jets in form of import duties, parking and landing fees, etc.
- · Re-establish the National Carrier with an expanded route network
4.7 Other Measures
- · Impose heavy taxes on use of cars with over 2.0 liter engine capacity and SUV in form of import duties, vehicle license. toll gates fees to discourage use of fuel guzzlers
- · Encourage use of diesel engine vehicles through reduced import duties, vehicle license and lower fuel cost.
- · Encourage use of cars of 1.0 liter and below engine capacities for private use through reduced taxes
- · Encourage use of bicycles
- · Discourage use of private cars to offices and work places through high parking fees and road access restrictions
- · Reduce size of official convoys
- · Fix bad roads and construct new shorter ones
- · Enforce 100 km/h speed limit on the high way
- · Enlighten drivers on fuel efficient driving skills
There is no problem without a solution. Unfortunately in Nigeria our policy makers being either lazy or incompetent normally adopt quick fix policies without thorough research into its long term negative effects. In many instances consequences of these policies created worse challenges than the solution.
This paper simply proposes consideration of engineering related solutions to one the challenges facing Nigeria. Indeed the measures outline herein will not only save us money but will improve passengers’ comfort and safely, and reduce environmental pollution.
The huge savings, estimated at over one trillion naira annually that will be derived from the elimination of subsidy could be used to fund the implementation of the new policy on transportation.
‘Where there is a will, there is a way’
Engr. Abdullahi Dawuda Kutigi, FNSE
1. Report of the Special Committee on the Review of petroleum products supply and distribution, Oct. 2000.
2. Report No. 14447 – UNI 1996 – Nigeria Federal Republic Expenditure
Review, World Bank Washington D.C
3. Various print and electronic media.
4. Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution Problem – An
AlternativeSolution to Removal Of Subsidy.
By Engr. Abdullahi D. Kutigi, FNSE
PMS – Petroleum Motor Spirit (Petro)
AGO – Automotive Gas Oil ( Diesel)
DPK– Dual Purpose Kerosene (kero)
LPFO – Low Pour Fuel Oil ( Black oil)
LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas
NURTW – National Union of Road Transport Workers
RTEAN – Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria
NSTA – Niger State Transport Authority
SUV- Sport Utility Vehicle