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By Bennett Oghifo

The federal government’s desire to diversify the economy must include well-planned transportation system for it to be effective, a professional in public transport and infrastructure has said.

The Managing Director of Planet Projects, Biodun Otunola, who gave the advice yesterday in Lagos, said the focus on electricity was good but that it would be more beneficial for the government to consider effective transportation because goods and services move from one point to another regardless of power.

Otunlola, whose company is hosting an international conference on railway today at Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, said it was disturbing that Nigeria, with its huge population, lacked effective rail transportation system in its cities and across the country.

This is the reason the conference goes with the theme: ‘Nigeria Railway Industry Moving from 19th to 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities’.

According to him, it was imperative to reduce car-ridership in Lagos by 20 per cent, and that there was no need to build more roads in some of the country’s cities, rather linkages and mass transit systems should be used.

“It is not about building more roads or flyovers, it is about getting more people on buses; we have to make sure that trains work in our cities, such will make our roads will be freer. The government can even tax car users-congestion charges,” Otunlola stated.

He also recommended the introduction of congestion tax to be paid by those who insist on using their personal vehicles instead of public transportation systems.

The Managing Director of Planet Projects, however, said it was also important for the government to ensure that the high-capacity buses and train coaches were user-friendly, conducive and more importantly, leave and arrive at destinations on schedule. “They must be reliable, comfortable, accessible-ability to reach these buses,” he added.