Amaechi, stakeholders decry neglect of Nigeria’s automotive policy
Canvass Dept Of Urban Mass Transits In States
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has expressed concern over the continuing neglect of the country’s automotive policy by Nigerians, saying that preference for used cars popularly known as Tokunbo is killing the economy.
Amaechi who spoke at a two-day workshop for chief executives of mass transit organisations on the topic: “A National Agenda for Sustainable Mass Transit Operation and Development”, the minister said that the potential in the nation’s automotive policy has been largely undermined by tastes for foreign used cars, a development he said accounted for most of the road accidents across the country.
He explained that the Federal Government had deliberately crafted the Nigerian automotive policy to facilitate procurement of brand new made in Nigeria cars by Nigerians, instead of depending on importation of used cars at the detriment of development of the nation’s automobile industry.
The minister said the policy was also designed to create jobs through local manufacture of cars in the country, while lamenting the amount of foreign exchange that is pumped yearly into importation of used cars, a situation he said has kept the economy down.
“As you are aware, the key objective of the Nigerian automotive policy is to make new cars more affordable for Nigerians, while at the same time discouraging importation of used cars called Tokunbo. The Federal Government believes that the policy will create significant employment as well as improve quality of manufacturing. However, till date, no major investor has taken full advantage of the automotive policy, apart from Innoson vehicle manufacturing company”, he said.
Director-General of Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) Zaria, Dr. Aminu Musa Yusuf who was also at the event said that it was unfortunate that Nigeria’s import bill for used cars as at 2012 stood at US$3.4 billion. According to him, out of a total of 36 auto-assembly licences issued to would-be investors to kick-start local manufacture of vehicles in the country, only three operators have so far commenced. He stressed that it is high time Nigeria charted a new course in local manufacture of automobiles especially in view of rising costs of imported vehicles and high exchange rate, to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the naira.
He stressed that Nigeria needed to develop efficient mass transit companies across the country to support safe and easy movement of people by road, even as he warned that dependence on foreign cars to run mass transit system amounts to waste of scarce resources.
Also speaking in the same vein, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enilamah said the Federal Government had already provided N25 billion as a revolving loan for the purchase of mass transit vehicles through the Infrastructure Bank at zero-interest rate, adding that the development of the economy has a lot to do with easy, safe and affordable nationwide mass transit system.