The Federal Government has warned that Nigeria cannot afford to witness a third wave of COVID-19, as the country’s economy, especially the transport sector, is already severely hit.
Already, Nigeria has recorded several new cases of COVID-19 with United Kingdom, France, India, Brazil, Argentina now experiencing the third wave.
Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, made this known in Lagos at the fourth edition of the logistics and supply chain industry report of the African Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC).
He explained that operators in the country’s transport sector were yet to recover economically from the impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses, adding that the third wave would be catastrophic for the nation’s economy to bear.
Amaechi, who was the guest speaker at the occasion, while speaking on the ‘Impacts of COVID-19 Disruption on Supply Chain and Transportation,’ said that the outbreak of the pandemic stalled a lot of activities and crumbled several economies globally.
The transport minister, who was represented by a director in the Ministry of Transport, Mrs. Blessing Ilori, explained that the country’s transportation sector in particular was one of the worst hit as the sector was the greatest vector of the disease.
According to him, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, the transportation sector became straddled with restrictive safety measures aimed to preserve lives and properties.
He pointed out that many Nigerian businesses, including those in the country’s transport sector, were still counting their losses to the pandemic currently.
Amaechi, however, backed the key role the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 is playing to ensure the monitoring of the spread of the pandemic in the country.
He said: “Thankfully, we are gradually weathering the storm as you know the third wave is even here. We don’t know the several shades of this pandemic and I believe, we would totally overcome this deadly pandemic with the aggressive approach of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the doggedness of our health workers.
“Though, we are gradually winning the war against the deadly virus, its impact on the economy particularly the transportation sector has been damaging.
“The road subsector, which is considered as the most prevalent and extensively used mode of transportation in Nigeria encountered massive loss of workforce as some transport companies reduced their staff strength to ameliorate the effect of the pandemic on operational cost.
“The negative toll of the sharp reduction in the global demand for crude oil further shrunk the economy and led to hike in the cost of living.”
Speaking further, Amaechi added that the rail subsector was not left out in the scourge as it led to compulsory reduction of passengers on the train which led to loss of revenue for the government.
Also, in the maritime sub-sector, the application and implementation of various restrictions imposed by national and sub-sovereign authorities negatively affected shipping and port operations activities, as it became very challenging for stakeholders in the shipping industry to fulfill their contractual obligations, he noted.
“As the impact of COVID-19 spirals across the Nigerian economy, the supply chain industry has also faced some associated challenges, one of such challenge is the inability of manufacturers of finished goods to source for raw materials from international suppliers, thus disrupting the wholesale, retail and distribution operations chain and resulting in the reduction of volume of goods distributed across the value chain and increased inflation rate,” the transport minister added.
Amaechi pointed out that “it will interest you to note that the current administration is aware of the devastating impact of the virus on the economy and as such, is executing strategies and relief measures to ameliorate the plight of its citizens.”