COVID-19 OUTBREAK AND THE TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY – EFFECTS, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS.
OKOYE CHIDI. PRECIOUS
(This article was supposed to be submitted for an online contest however the contest did not push through due to the heat caused by COVID_19. Find out what is happening; covid-19 and transportation industry.)
COVID_19 AND THE TRANSPORTATION
Never did the world ever imagined of been robbed almost at the same time. Covid-19 indeed came like a thief in the night yet, it has robbed us of our lives in the bright.
It has been proven that the corona-virus disease (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable. The pathogenic viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2(SARS-COV.2), which emerged in Wuhan, China and spread around the world. This is due to China’s vast dealings with the rest of the world.
The sudden outbreak of this disease and it quick infectious rate led to the death of many. Still, there is no clinically approved antiviral drug or vaccine available to be used against covid-19.
This is constantly leading to a daily increase of infected persons in the world. It was 11th of May 2020, Nigeria recorded 4,399 confirm cases, 778 discharged cases and 143 deaths; the fear grew as the virus spreads.
It has been discovered that the symptoms of the disease is similar to any flu disease such as coughing, fever etc. As we await the arrival of the antiviral drug or vaccine, the world health organization has announced preventive measures all should take to reduce the wide spread of this disease. And they are;
- Steady washing of the hands,
- Sanitize your hands always,
- Wearing of face mask to prevent hand contact with the face especially with the mouth and eyes,
- Avoid social gathering and regular intake of vitamins to boost the immune system.
Also, the intake of alkaline foods like lemons, oranges, tangerine, garlic etc. reduces the acidic level of the virus. It is no big deal for Nigerians to make ginger, garlic etc. their most cherished food spice as we still appreciate our native ways.
THE LOCK-DOWN AND HOW IT AFFECTED MOVEMENT
However, one preventive measure the government of almost all nations of the world adopted was to lock-down both social and economic activities.
Introducing curfew which prohibited movements of human and vehicles to reduce physical contacts and to prevent more persons from being infected. And also to close the borders. However this has affected the transportation industry to a great extent.
Nigeria transportation industry has improved over the past few years. With the introduction of new and more reliable transportation means which reduced traveling stress of both goods and individuals and made journey more easy and convenient.
Although, the most common means of transportation in Nigeria is by land. However, we can see improvement in other transportation means such as through air, water and even railways. But the outbreak of covid-19 has affected the transportation industry greatly.
The global arrest of all activities which includes the lock-down observed in Nigeria came too sudden. So, it made the government and even the transportation industry to be taken unaware. Though the actions taken were for the good of the citizens, it still had a negative effect on the transportation industry in the following ways:
- Commercial and economical activities:
It affected the commercial and economical activities of the industry as it placed a hold on revenue generation. It also led to a break and a delay to the quick delivering of supplies. Even the human basic amenities were slowly and poorly delivered.
The band on motorcycles affected the rural dwellers more since mini buses and buses barely functions there. These people make use of motorcycles for most of their journeys as hospitals, mega markets and even banks are sited far off.
- Unjust and exploitative acts:
The sudden banned on movement forced most drivers into unjust and exploitative acts to survive and some for selfish gains. These drivers hides and pick passengers and charge them heavily afterwards.
I went at Ebonyi State and stayed for close to three months until the banned on domestic movement was lifted. When I arrived, I needed a motorcycle to take my sister and I to our next location and we were charged twice the normal price.
Same happened to a friend of mine who got a night bus from portharcourt to Lagos and she was made to pay twice the normal price. The exploitations caused by the outbreak of this disease is alarming.
- Involuntary unemployment:
The outbreak of this disease rendered a lot of employed citizens in the industry jobless. This is gra becoming unbearable as expenses keeps on increasing on a daily basis with no source of income to settle them. This is making a lot become actual beggars just to have daily bread.
Due to how sudden the outbreak of this disease was, the industry faced a lot of challenges such as:
- Poor online services and delivery agents:
The transportation industry major operations are offline based with little or no platforms created for online services. Even the available online services are not so advanced and effective which would have been of a positive benefit to the industry.
The poor use of online services made it difficult for people at home to place orders for things they needed. even so, they still had fears of being cheated in price, volume and quality.
Also, the gas filling station, fuel and kerosene stations could have agents that delivers to homes. This should be more based on request while the individuals pays in cash or through mobile transfer.
Banks could team up with the transportation industry to have agents for home services too. To attend to those individuals who wants to make huge withdrawals, deposits and other transactions to help reduce queue in banks and ATM machines.
- Bad roads and unfinished contracts:
Although Nigeria has been battling with poorly constructed roads, sometimes the roads constructed can barely accommodate vehicles and roadside walkers. And this is making it difficult for movements to take place; increasing the chances of risk too. see fig. 1.
The outbreak of this disease stopped a lot of constructions which would have been completed by now like the constructions of major roads both in rural and urban areas and Lagos-Ibadan Railway. All these they will have to still face at the end of the crisis.
- Another challenge is little availability of vehicles.
If the industry had good number of vehicles then, covid-19 would not have caused deep havoc.
This is because when buses, BRT’s, cabs etc. are in good numbers, the industry could operate having an agent to make sure passengers adhere to preventive measures with right spacing in the vehicle.
However, we do not have enough vehicles to convey passengers and even goods which explains the massive queues in bus stations and hanging passengers. Especially in big cities like Lagos, Kaduna etc. and how squeezed the passengers sits. See fig. 1 and 2.
- Unplanned expenses:
Since lock-down took effect, it increased the expenses made on vehicles. These vehicles works with engines and other parts that needs maintenance and repairs as need be. Without doubt I can say that the transportation industry has equally suffered since the outbreak of this disease (COVID-19).
The discussion as regards covid-19 and the transportation industry is quite much. Still, with all I have discussed and pointed out, below are my prospections to its regards.
- Regardless of how affected the industry currently is, even after the crisis the
Mentality of a lot of individuals will be affected. This may reduce the transportation flow of passengers. To solve this, both the government and the transportation industry should increase the number of vehicles. This should be done so that people could sit while maintaining reasonable distance and privacy in the vehicle.
- Also for commercial vehicles, the number of sitters to a vehicle should be
Slashed by half and there should be an additional vehicle to complement it to reduce the heavy queue. If possible, there should be an introduction of new vehicles and active use of trains which equally encourages passengers spacing and adherence to the preventive guidelines. And of course, we will appreciate it if it is less expensive.
Also, early tickets are to be booked a day before with time specification and a seat number too to prevent fights and unbearable queues especially in big and crowed cities. Also the demand for cabs will be at an increased rate hence provision for more should be made.
- It will be helpful if at necessary checkpoints the force personnel check if the
Passengers in a vehicle properly maintain the guiding instructions.
- For safety purpose, those entering the country by air and other means not
Within Nigeria are to be properly checked and unnecessary high temperature passenger is to be doubled checked not harassed. Any Sick passenger found needs to provide his/her doctor’s report stating and explaining their his/her condition.
Conclusively, with an effective regulatory body/agents void of exploitative acts, partiality or favoritism, immoral and illegal acts, we can fight covid-19 and still live a less threatened life. Although it is no news that until now no admissible drug or vaccine has been made to cure this viral disease. However, we cannot allow COVID-19 rob us anymore of our lives and peace. Thanks