COVID-19 OUTBREAK AND THE TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY- EFFECTS, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

Change is hard, but change caused by disease is harder. And perhaps of the diseases that would cause a major change in our present world, COVID-19 is a critical one. COVID-19 is a virus believed to be transferred from animals to man and is spread by our contact with the particles through the eye, nose and mouth. According to John Hopkins, there is a 8.7% mortality rate and it has been seen in about 95% of the world population.


As with any disease, there has been a great amount of anxiety, concerns and opportunity with the changes in the world especially in the transportation industry. Transportation according to the LONGMAN DICTIONARY OF CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH 7th edition is “a system or method for carrying passengers or goods from one place to another.” For some people, a more pessimistic view that the transportation industry is in danger of falling is portrayed while for others they have seen great opportunities in the air, land, sea and most recently space transportation. COVID-19 has made us all uncomfortable as we scramble to adjust, retool and envision what the future may be.


So, what has changed?
Within just the first six months, after the virus was discovered, the rate at which people moved was reduced by 46%. With Nigeria taking about 0.7% of the global percentage, there was a very small but highly significant change in cross-border transportation due to the ban on inter-border transport by different states. The land and sea transport were not left behind but the wrath of the virus less affected this sector, although with a costly loss of about 30% of patronage in the world.
Also, the transportation industry has been affected because it took a pivotal role in the spread of the virus from one place to another. Due to news from established media houses that different transportation vessels were responsible, for how the virus got away from its Epi-centre Wuhan in China to different nations, citizens decided to abscond from Transport generally.


In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak has increased the rivalry in the different sectors of the transportation industry. Rather work hand in hand in ensuring that transportation still remains an essential services. The sectors; air, land and sea agencies are fighting on who best deserves the grant and palliatives to be given by the Government basing their claims on who is responding the most and fastest in emergency, who did not aid in spreading the diseases the most, who was the cheapest that the Government could support and many other frivolities.
Noting what has changed, what happened because of what has changed?


Just because the movement of all things have been restricted including transportation, there has been a high loss of revenue especially the aviation sector which depends on the banned cross-border transport. Work-force have been retrenched, Vessels sold and those who manage to keep their job have their salaries and other entitlements reduced or reneged. This is indeed not a good time to experience these.


Furthermore, because of how the transportation industry has contributed a lot in COVID-19 spread. People have lost Trust in Transportation. These has happened before due to accidents, high cost of travel and people come back to patronise but this time, the internet is ready. Some of the citizens realise that rather than travelling they could do all what they want by video-conferencing, chatting and even being safer inside their home with their family.
One of the negative results of rivalry is no progress. And this will be what will continue to happen if no one will be able to move forward; as all energy is focused on winning the rivalry rather than winning the Pandemic. This way; no innovation, idea or motivation would be channelled towards moving forward rather it will be for who come out best, which would in no way help to stop the pandemic at hand.


Where then is the light at the end of the tunnel for the transportation industry?
Firstly, the transport sector should seek to be thrilling and reinvigorated. Apart from moving people from one place to another, one of the reasons that people get transported is to enable them to visit and see new experiences that they can’t find where they live. This accounts for why tourism contributes over $456billion to the national economies yearly. And only the transport industry can enable these sightseeing. People always want to be thrilled, so it would be a good idea for the transportation industry to start to give this exciting experiences; which can be gotten by space Travel, visiting the centre of the earth and many other places which only transport can take them to. But at the same time far away from the threat of where any future virus may be transmitted.


Secondly, Reforms will be needed. The transportation industry is responsible for over half of the world’s pollution according to Earth Watch Inc. At a time like this when demand is quite lower. The few resources should be patterned towards making the industry more sustainable and eco-friendly. The land Transport can see the example of Tesla which uses electricity to power up. The sea transport can use this time to build upon the prototype by the British Transport ministry for solar-panelled propelled ships. Through this when the world comes out of this change. It would meet the Transport industry that will stand with the and not against the earth.
Thirdly, Restoration, especially in the developing countries like Nigeria. All major economic activity are on standstill and so the bad roads phenomenon can be solved gradually and honourably by using different countries with similar geographical terrains as a template. So, when we come free from this virus, the transport system will be a work in progress and not worst.
Much more could be said and explored as it relates to the upheaval in Transportation industry we are experiencing but considering change as part of GOD’s ultimate design may help us improve our attitude toward it, but may not always make it easier.

Transportation is definitely an industry that seems to constantly undergo changes and always having prospects. It can be hard to keep up the pace. All this changes can be stressful and overwhelming. Asking GOD for guidance and grace during this times of big transition will help alleviate the burdens it can cause.

But we have to take the first step!

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