“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” – Anonymous
From the apt saying above one can deduce that the Nigerian government has not aptly prioritized the role and significance of the transport sector especially crucial aspects like the port access roads.
The Lagos port access roads have been impassable for years, first because of the dilapidated state of the roads which has begun to receive attention for repairs and secondly because of the long queues of trucks and tankers heading to the ports and tank farms in the region.
As the Chairman, Centre for Values in Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi said recently, “It is a crying shame that trucks could move out for a political rally and are back again”
Indeed the politicians could force the numerous truckers and tankers to leave the port access roads during campaigns and the trick was repeated at the weekend during elections. Nevertheless, trucks and tankers have clogged the port access roads for months and years.
Utomi noted that the change on the Apapa port access roads could have been an opportunity for the trucks and tankers to stay wherever they parked within these couple of days go before a call-up system would be introduced.
“These trucks and tankers should have remained there and taken numbers so that they take turns to come out when called. They could drive in, pick up goods and move out, but you don’t cluster and not bring the city to a standstill as we have it” he said.
“Part of our problem is that we don’t have an institutional memory; we don’t structure knowledge management well. When Ojo Madueke was Minister of Transport, he had a big study on inter-modal transport network for the country, I don’t think that got implemented, it may not even be remembered in the ministry today and this is part of the problem” he added.
Meanwhile, a former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Chief Adebayo Sarumi admonished the government to expand the port access roads to cater for the increased volume of activities at the ports
“What I consider as an immediate solution to the dilapidated state of the port access roads is for the Federal Ministry of Works to give more of the responsibility for maintenance to the States and back it with the requisite funding. The Ministry can also play the supervisory role to monitor in terms of what they do with the funds and the rehabilitation of those roads”, he said.
According to Sarumi, those who have certain roads or rail networks passing through their states should be given responsibility and held liable to ensure there is order.
“Remember most of these roads are inter-city State roads and if we can get this right, then we have gotten the transport sector right in this country” he added.