ADDRESS DELIVERED BY ALH (DR) KASSIM IBRAHIM BATAIYA, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF ROAD TRANSPORT OWNERS (NARTO) DURING THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC)/STATE CHAIRMEN JOINT MEETING HELD ON MONDAY 7H MAY, 2018 AT LINKS INTERNAL HOTELS, UTAKO, ABUJA.
It is my singular honour and privilege to welcome you all to our 1st and 2nd quarter National Executive Council (NEC)/State Chairmen Joint meeting holding in this our beautiful Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Let me specially, appreciate the presence of all invited guest, who despite the short notice given to them, found time to be with us this morning.
As I have said many times in the past, the Joint Meeting of NEC and all the State Chairmen is the innovation of the current leadership. The purpose of bringing the two together is to afford the two groups issues, resolve problems and chart new paths for new opportunities and improved prosperity for our members throughout the country.
The business of transportation is relevant today in this country, and will continue to be relevant for a long time. The populations of vehicles will continue to increase in the coming years but the development of infrastructure would not grow in the same phase. Transportation systems across the globe are being modernized through innovation in advanced technology. In a decade or two from now, we shall see the emergency of self-driven vehicles on our roads and sophisticated trains that travel at extremely incredible speeds. If we must survive in the business, we must also think at the same face and look for opportunities to improve and diversify our investments.
There is a contested affect by current Administration of President Mohammed Buhari to modernize and expand the Nigerian Railways. The old narrow gauge trucks are being rehabilitated while standard gauge lines are being constructed. Abuja to Kaduna has been completed are fully operational which Lagos to Ibadan is underway with possible completion date of 2019. Later this year, work on Kaduna/Kano line will commence. There is already an approval for coastal lines that will be constructed from Calabar through Port Harcourt – Benin down to Lagos with occasional spurs of some important economic locations in the South East geo-political zone.
My dear compatriots, the essence of giving you these details on the railways is to awaken your entrepreneurial spirit and unlock your investment drive to see the opportunities that will be available in the sub-sector. What made the railway inefficient and moribund was partly its ownership structure. Being an agency of government, it depends largely on government subvention and is subjected to government control and bureaucracy. However, all these will soon change with privatization of the sub-sector. Already, plans have almost been concluded to bring in General Electric to be a core investor. Our members must rise and take up this challenge. Northing stops us from expanding the frontier of our influence. We must not be restricted to the roads alone; we must also own the railways!
Dear Compatriots, in February this year, your organization was represented at the Maiden Edition of the African Transport Congress meeting hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco in the historic city of Marrakech. That meeting gave birth to the 1st continental transport organization in Africa that is expected to bring about integration of various transport organizations and continue to help in facilitating free trade and movement of people throughout Africa. Nigeria, which was represented by NARTO, ALBAN, WARTU and TGI, played a very prominent role in the deliberations. I am pleased to report to you that, in recognition of Nigeria excellent participation at the Conference, it was elected to hold the position of 1st Deputy President of the new body. With a sense of humility, I wish to report that the position is currently held by the National President of NARTO.
At sub-regional level, I am also pleased to inform you that the West African Transport Union that was formed more than decades ago but which remained inactive since the demise of its founder, the late Alhaji Lawal Isa, has now been reactivated in Nigeria, currently participating at the level of Interim President,
pending the conduct of elections coming up very soon.
NARTO has continued to maintain peaceful and cordial relationships with all stakeholders and sister organizations in the country. Our organizational profile is currently on the rise as we continue to gain more relevance and respect from the government and the general public.
The credit for all these, my dear comrades, goes to all of you for your co-operation, support and leadership. We look forward to the sustenance of this laudable team spirit.
As we get set to begin our meeting, I call on all members to remain paused on mission and vision to drive our Association to the ear of great economic prosperity.
I cannot end this address without commending the present administration for their master plans on roads constructions and rehabilitations which we hope will being as soon as the 2018 Budget is passed by the National Assembly. The Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing has just issued a gazette on new Axle Load Policy. Our Association is studying the policy very carefully and would soon make a public statement on it.
NARTO is also engaging all stakeholders such as the Federal Rods Safety Corps (FRSC), the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) Mgt. Board, the NNPC Retail Limited though the various joint Consultative Committees set up for the purpose. All problems are being resolved by these committees at their various levels after due clearance with the National leadership.
In conclusion, I will like to thank the Federal Ministry of Transportation particularly, the Department of Land, Transport and Mass Transit Administration under the able leadership of Dr (Mrs) Anthonia Ekpa, for carrying the Association along in all its activities. We commend the leadership of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) for their continued determination to keep our highways safe. We thank all our stakeholders and security agencies for the synergy and inter-agency collaboration.
Finally, I will like to once again appreciate all our invited guests for honouring our invitation as well as our Staff and gentlemen of the Press.
ALHAJI (DR) KASSIM I. BATAIYA