Land and marine transport systems proved the lifeline of the society during the Covid-19 pandemic- as other mobility systems were hit hard during the pandemic, said a senior UAE government official on Tuesday.
Sheikh Nasser Majid Al Qasimi, undersecretary for the infrastructure and transport sector at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said UAE aims to streamline land and maritime transport sectors, and lay legislative structures for their development to achieve global supremacy in development, diversity, integration and sustainability.
“The UAE is aware of the importance of land and water transport and recognises the importance of storage in supporting the national economy, which is a key driver of comprehensive development. Therefore, it is keen to design pioneering initiatives and projects that support the UAE’s goals for the next fifty years, which in turn contribute to maintaining the gains over the past fifty years,” he added.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early last year, the UAE, like many other countries around the world, suspended air passenger traffic to contain the pandemic. The aviation sector is recovering slowly as many countries have air bubble agreements in place.
Sheikh Nasser said during a panel discussion at the 18th International Roads Federation (IRF) World Meeting and Exhibition titled “Transport Beyond Covid-19 – Agile Policies of 21st Century”.
Sheikh Nasser said the UAE has made unremitting efforts to confront the pandemic through continuing land and marine transport system, which represented the lifeline of society at a time where other transportation means were disrupted.
“It was evident to everyone that mobility systems have been hit hard by the pandemic as a result of closures, social distancing, hygiene and sterilisation requirements, and a significant drop in demand for personal mobility given the measures taken to limit the spread of the epidemic. Such a situation contributed to major complications in operating land and sea transport. And this will form the basis of future legislation and policies for this vital sector,” Al Qasimi said during a panel discussion at the 18th IRF World Meeting and Exhibition.
“We are on the cusp of overcoming the epidemic. With the reopening of cities and the return of life to normal, we are at a crossroads to transform the Covid-19 crisis into real opportunities. It requires crisis management from the perspective of corporate agility, resilient economic performance and end-to-end digitisation of operations. It also entails re-planning the transport strategy and re-designing transport projects to align them with the logistical changes in terms of increased land and water transport patterns,” added Al Qasimi.
He noted that it is required to accelerate the adoption of more sustainable and flexible urban mobility policies for the wellbeing of people.
Al Qasimi identified three main variables that set the base for organising or reorganising land and marine transport means after the Covid-19. These are building a strong relationship and proactive interaction with customers, accelerating the digitisation of services and processes to ensure priority and resilience, and developing sound crises management methods to better anticipate risks and improve the resilience of transport operations.
James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development in Kenya, Paul Ajegba, director of Michigan Department of Transportation, Dr Sung Hwan Kim, president of Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia, and Prof. Claude Van Rooten, President, PIARC, also took part in the panel discussion.