In these wise words put forward by Buckminster Fuller, we see that to create a positive change we really don’t have to fight the status-quo but simply create a new model that should not only mirror things the way they should be but also make the previous state archaic.
The transportation sector is a very critical sector of Nigeria’s economy, and it is a sector that not only needs sweeping changes but also requires a new model. While a lot has been said and promises made on revamping the sector, not much has changed in recent times and the status-quo is an embarrassment to the nation.
As we journey into 2016 there is enormous task ahead if we really want to transform the transportation system in the polity. Our roads should no longer be seen as death traps, the rail system should evolve from its almost non-existent status, piping should be secured, aviation needs further upgrade and the same is true of our inland water-ways. This mammoth onus lies with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and he is expected to have fully understood his mandate as the transport minister and developed a blueprint to assuage the many challenges stifling the transport sector.
For the road transport, albeit it is the most utilized mode of transport in Nigeria, the major problems are the dilapidated state of the roads, incessant traffic jam which can also be traced to the state of the roads and the unavailability/ ineffectiveness of other modes of transport.
While it is very important to fix most of our roads, it is also equally crucial that the rail system and waterways become functional to reduce the volume of activities on the roads as there are several trucks and tankers plying the roads. This shortens the life-span of the roads and also causes hectic gridlocks. Our roads need the other modes of transport functioning to also remain efficient.
Railway transport can play a significant role in the evolving the transport system in Nigeria because the development of trade, industry and commerce largely depends on the development of railways, yet it remains the cheapest and safest mode of transport as the chances of accidents and breakdown of railways are minimum when compared to other modes of transport.
As soon as Rotimi Amaechi was appointed Minister of Transport, he revealed his desire to revamp the nation’s rail system. This year we expect to see the actions to back his claims as the effective management of the railway to convey goods and people would mean fewer vehicles would ply the roads and reduced volume of traffic congestion which has become the norm in major cities especially port areas across the country such as the Oshodi- Apapa grueling traffic jam caused trucks and tankers.
Nigerian railways are in a parlous condition and Amaechi should spearhead the government’s bid to rectify the situation by privatizing the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
Nigeria has the second longest length of waterways in Africa, with 8,600 kilometres of inland waterways and an extensive coastland of about 852 kilometres. Yet, water transport in Nigeria scores a distant second to road transport, with an average share of about 1.6% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product.
Our inland water transport system would have to be developed because it is advantageous in terms of costs of moving heavy traffic, especially where speed is less important than cost. The need to attain an efficient coastal and inland waterway system increases because it can relieve pressure on the rail and road transport infrastructure. A single 15-barge tow is equivalent to about 225 railroad cars or 870 tractor-trailer trucks.
Pipeline transport in Nigeria has become synonymous with breakage and vandalism. The system is best for the transportation of petroleum products but its inefficiency resulting from incessant vandalism has relegated the mode of transport to a peripheral state.
Last week, as a result of the increased attacks by crude oil vandals in recent times, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced the operational shutdown of the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries owing to crude supply challenges arising from recent attacks on vital crude oil pipelines. Although NNPC said it had activated remedial measures to sustain the prevailing stability in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country, a lot has to be done to ensure pipeline vandalism is eradicated in the nation.
Lastly, the aviation sector is one that has been evolving in the polity over the years but there is still a high level of apprehension as a result of several plane crashes in recent times. The aviation industry has been responsible for the loss of several lives and properties worth billions. Transportation by air doesn’t have to be as risky as it is in Nigerian and the risk can be minimized if all airlines employ capable hands and purchase new modern aircrafts.
By Kenneth Jukpor