- As LCCI urges govt. to tackle inflation factors to improve welfare of Nigerians
The Lagos State Government is fine tuning plans to flag off its intermodal transportation integration, a system involving rail, water and road regime from the CMS and the Mile 2.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Prince Anofi Olarenwaju Elegushi who indicated this, highlighting the determination of the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to finally curb the chronic gridlocks, that the State is often associated with.
‘’We had adopted various engineering solutions along with improving the traditional methods by which traffic is measured”, Elegushi indicated, pointing out that Ambode’s Government would leave no stones unturned, until the issue of traffic was contained.
Explaining that the integration would be executed under the World Bank facility through LAMATA, the Commissioner stated that a road that will carry traffic from under the bridge of Mile 2 will be constructed to ease traffic along the axis, while renewed effort would be made, in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to free the traffic on the Mile 2 – Tin Can Island Port axis.
The Commissioner, who was fielding questions from journalists, at the Annual Ministerial Briefing held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre Alausa, assured Nigerians that though the Enforcement Agencies of Government will continue to ensure free flow of traffic, they would nonetheless be closely monitored to ensure sanity, while erring officers would be seriously punish in line with the extant laws of the service.
Prince Elegushi while appealing that under no circumstances should the State’s enforcement officials be attacked, stressing that the Road Traffic Law 2012 schedule 1 listed such as an offence punishable with a fine of #100,000:or a 3year prison term or both, stated further that the state Government is looking to purchase ferries to promote water travel and tourism; even as lauded the positive impact of Laybys the Government has constructed.
For instance, averred Prince Elegushi, the travel time of 45minutes is envisaged when the twin Ketu Laybys are completed, noting that the Prince of Ikateland, realized that the introduction of laybys had reduced travel time along the Ojodu Berger Obalende axis to about 20minutes. Seven of such laybys had been constructed.
He assured that more would be constructed, especially with two others along Ikorodu and Ketu, to curb the perennial log jam witnessed due to activities of commercial buses picking and discharging passengers, adding that Government is working to ensure that travel time from Ikorodu to CMS should not take more than 45 minutes.
He however warned that the laybys must not be turned to garages for parking and vehicle repairs, even as the Government would continue to scrutinize the activities of Unions at the laybys to prevent any abuse.
Elegushi urged Lagosians to ‘’own public utilities’’ and ensure that they are used for the purpose for which they have been put in place.
While also stating the introduction of traffic signalization to replace the six roundabouts along the Lekki Epe axis, Elegushi said a travel time of less time than 20 minutes from the 2 to 3hours, prior to construction, has been recorded.
He described the continued engagement of the ministry with the various transport union, as being the reason for the peace that has reigned in the state, and assured that prompt response would always be given to issues in a bid to sustain the glowing peace in the State.
In the meantime, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says unless factors driving inflation are tackled to enhance economic growth and reduce inflation rate significantly, the welfare of citizens will hardly improve.
The LCCI Director-General, Mr Muda Yusuf, told the Press in Lagos that hike in food prices, costs of production and low investment were direct consequences of government’s failure to address inflation factors.
It will be recalled that National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, released on May 16, reveals that April inflation rate dropped to 17.24 per cent on year-on-year basis from 17.26 per cent in March.
“It is not a significant drop. The fact that we have a drop in inflation rate does not mean that prices of goods will come down.
“Inflation rate is the rate of increases in prices, so it is the rate of increases that is dropping, it is not that prices are dropping.
“It means that the issue of high prices is still a problem in the economy. It is a problem for businesses and even a bigger problem for the citizens.
“If there is anything that impacts adversely on the poor, it is inflation and particularly high prices of food and services,” he said.
According to him, to see a dramatic impact on citizen’s welfare and price of foods, inflation rate has to reduce drastically below its present level.
“Over the last one year, prices of foods and pharmaceutical products have doubled, so we still need to do a lot more to bring down prices in the economy,” he said.
The director-general said that trade policies, foreign exchange issues, tax regimes and energy challenges which constituted factors driving inflation should be addressed to experience significant reduction in inflation rate.
“Foreign exchange rate has been a factor and it is beginning to come down a little. Energy cost is a big factor driving inflation but it is not coming down yet.
“Trade policies have not changed because the import duty on some of the products are still too high.
“Without prejudice to looking inward or being self reliant as a nation, we need to review some of the import duties especially in sectors where we do not have strong local capacity.
“Where we do not have local capacity, import duty should not be high; otherwise, it would be the citizens that would pay dearly for these items,” he said.
Yusuf also said that tax review should be done for manufacturers to reduce cost of production and encourage their competitiveness
“In Ghana, Value Added Tax (VAT) was reviewed from 17 per cent to 3 per cent and some other taxes were also brought down to make it easier for businesses to produce cheaper goods.
“We can replicate the same in our country so as to reduce the burden of high cost of foods on the masses and also bolster industrial growth,” Yusuf said.
He said that the economy would benefit from reduced tax rates through improved tax coverage and compliance rate from businesses.