Transport Sector Conspicuously Missing In ‘Senchi Consensus’

Participants at the National Economic Forum failed to include in their communique, some policy proposals to revamp the transport sector.

The communique, which was dubbed ‘Senchi Consensus,’ rather focused more on stabilising the macroeconomic environment and creating an enabling environment for the business community to operate.

Although none of the forum organisers, facilitators or recorders was available to explain why the sector was not captured in the communique, the GRAPHIC BUSINESS gathered that the same applied to the health, education and the water resources, works and housing sectors.

In the issue of the transport sector for instance, the paper learnt that the Minister of Transport was not even invited to make proposals at the forum although her compatriots from Trade and Industry and Finance and Economic Planning and others were invited to so do. The sector minister, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, was also not present at the high-profile forum.

Checks at the various institutions regulating the major sub-sectors of the industry showed that the rail, road or aviation sector players were also not invited to participate in or make proposals.

The six thematic areas did not also capture the transport sector, partly leading to participants’ inability to make industry-specific proposals.

The areas captured for urgent consideration included how to restore macroeconomic stability, strengthen the private sector and financial markets and ensure long-term economic growth, unlocking the potential for long-term economic development and developing an effective communication strategy.

The apparent elimination of the transport sector from the forum is strange because it was expected that the marginal gains within the sector would be consolidated and strategies proposed to deal with the challenges. This is important in view of the strategic role of the transport sector to the economic growth of the country.

In the aviation industry, for instance, the number of airlines and passengers for both the domestic and international airlines has increased tremendously, culminating into an annual growth rate that averages 10 per cent over the past 10 years.

The same applies to the road sector, where the number of transport companies and commercial vehicles have more than tripled in the past decade, partly forcing the ministry of transport to advocate for a regulatory institution for the sector.

Similar trends have been recorded in the maritime industry, where sea freight has been growing at about 15 per cent per annum.

In the railway sub-sector, however, government policies are yet to yield firm results as the sector continues to suffer from lack of resources and investments. As a result, indications were that the forum would have made proposals on how to decongest the various ports; ease the heightening vehicular traffic in the regional capitals and other major commercial cities; restore confidence in the aviation sector and revamp the deteriorating railway industry. That, however, failed to materialise.

Sources within the industry told this paper that the omission of the sector from the forum was worrying, given that it complements all sectors of the economy.

A management source at the Ministry of Transport, however, gave the assurance that the forum’s inability to make proposals on the sector does not amount to lack of attention.