I am honored and privileged to be invited to attend the first edition of the African Congress of Transport and Logistic Organizations holding in this beautiful city of Marrakech – a tourist delight, located in Africa’s most politically stable countries, the Kingdom of Morocco. I bring to you fraternal felicitations from members of the Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and indeed from the people of Nigeria.

I am happy that the Democratic Organization of Transport Professionals (ODPT), acting on the authority of the King, His Royal Highness Mohammed VI is organizing the first edition of this conference in this historic and beautiful city of Marrakech in the Kingdom of Morocco. This will no doubt be a unique opportunity for all transport professionals from Africa and beyond to discuss and exchange ideas and experiences for the development of the transportation in the continent. A well-developed transport infrastructure is a critical success factor in the socio-economic and political development of any nation.

In my country Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Transportation is a key ministry and oversees Road and Water Ways Transport, Railways and Aviation. The total road network in Nigeria is about 200,000 km out of which only 34,000km is under the control of the federal government while 166,000km is controlled by both states and local governments. We have about 29 airports, seven of which are of international status and 13 airstrips located in many parts of the country, particularly in the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta region. Water transportation is mainly within the riverine areas and the coastline concentrated in the south of the country. It is hoped that when the River Niger is finally dredged there will be more water transport activities in the north. Until recently, the country has only about 3,505 km of narrow gauge railway lines consisting of 2 lines traversing the country from the coast in the south to the remote ends of the country on the northern frontier. However, the government is currently embarking on railway rehabilitation and expansion program to make it more adapted to the needs of the moment.

About 90% of the transportation needs of the country depend on the roads due to many reasons, among which are moribund railways, high cost of air travel, vandalized oil pipeline facilities to mention just a few. As a result, large chunk of goods, passengers and petroleum products are transported by road. Investment in vehicles, especially heavy duty trucks is largely in the hands of the private sector with little or no government intervention whatsoever.

The interest of workers in the road transport sector is protected by three (3) unions, namely: Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) while the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), of which I am privileged to be the President, protects the interest of all commercial vehicle owners in Nigeria.

Mr. Chairman, Please permit me to tell you a little about our Association. NARTO is the umbrella body of all commercial transport owners and operators in Nigeria that are engaged in the business of moving goods, passengers and petroleum products from one place to another throughout the country and in the West African sub-region. Our objective is to protect, promote, defend, articulate and represent the views of all transporters and transport operators operating in Nigeria. We are not a labour oriented union but a company limited by guarantee as well as a member of the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. As employers of labour, second only to the government, we provide job opportunities to thousands of Nigerians in the transportation value chain.

Our structure consists of 4 levels through which affairs of members are administered, namely:  The National Executive Council (NEC), The Zonal Executive Committees (ZEC), State Executive Committees (SEC) and the Units. Membership of these committees are through elections which are conducted every (4) four years at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in line with the Association’s Constitution and in compliance with government laws and regulations. The Association is led by the National President, his Deputy, National Treasurer, National Financial Secretary and (6) six Zonal Chairmen representing each of the 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria. Administration of the National Secretariat is vested in the Executive Secretary assisted by members of his management team. We have functional offices in all the 6 six geo-political zones and in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Due to our relevance, the government has nominated us to serve on the governing boards of some government establishments in which we are critical stakeholders, such as the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) among others.

In the International Scene, our Association is affiliated to the West Africa Transport Union (WARTU), and currently holds the position of its interim president. We have played a leading role in the resuscitation of the regional body last year and sponsored the reconstitution of its Nigerian Chapter where, again, our member is the interim chairman. In the coming years we hope to belong to all the relevant sub-regional, regional and international bodies with a view to advancing the conduct of transportation business in Nigeria and for fostering co-operation and regional integration.

In conclusion, I will like to use this opportunity to call those who wish to invest in transportation in Africa to come to Nigeria. As indicated earlier, investment in truck acquisition is left entirely in the hands of the private sector. Due to the growing economic activities in all sectors of our economy there is gap in the provision of infrastructure, particularly trucks in which any investor can take advantage. The government is also considering giving concession to private investors who wish to fund road construction through public private partnership (PPP) arrangement with varying degree of tax incentives. I invite you all to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Finally, I wish to thank you, the organizers of this conference, for the wonderful opportunity given to us to participate in this conference and for the cordial and friendly reception extended to us since our arrival in this country.

Thank you very much.