“When the hunted has truly learnt to hunt his hunter, then the hunting game is over”
Nigerians have always been the hunted by the government’s (hunter) in the hunting game of politics and governance characterized with fake and utopian promises. People’s reactions to the Apapa road saga seem to indicate the relative consciousness of the masses to government policies, actions and inactions as clearly explained by Chinua Achebe in his wise words above. Today in Nigeria, the citizens (hunted) have truly learnt to hunt the hunters (government).
The Minister of Works Babatunde Fashola recently announced the federal government’s decision to finally close down the Apapa-wharf road in order to pave way for what is termed a “lasting solution” via rigorous and thorough reconstruction of the road.
This reconstruction activity is expected to take place within a period not less than twelve (12) months thereby putting a total halt to movement and other activities expected to take place on the road by its users.
This decision has however been greeted with mixed reactions while some had applauded government for the long awaited giant decision, others have expressed their displeasure over what is perceived as government’s lack of direction and inability to put a round peg in a round hole. To them, the total shut down of the road for a year would bring more untold hardship and irredeemable damage to the port’s operators and the nation’s economy.
The Apapa-wharf road is undoubtedly a major issue of public discourse among stakeholders in the maritime industry who have timelessly decried its deplorable condition. Year in and out successive governments have often claimed to have expended several billions of naira in (maintenance) ameliorating the abysmal status of the road having known the imperativeness of the road to our nation.
Unfortunately, the acclaimed position of the government negates the physical appearance of the said road as it’s obvious that somebody in position of authority is throwing the entire nation into the dark.
To be more explicit and succinct, virtually all the major roads leading to the Apapa ports are deficient of maintenance. One may begin to wonder why government finds it abominable to maintain the road that links the nation’s largest source of revenue generation. The negligence and” I don’t care” act of government reflects the level of disfunctionality of the Nigerian state, especially when one probes into the traumatic experiences the road instills on its users who basically are dependent on proceeds from the ports for survival.
It is germane to recall that stakeholders in this industry had sought government’s attention for expedient repair of the road so as to forestall deadly future damage based on their inclination about its socio-economic and political effects.
Obviously, the FG’s decision would have been applaudably golden if it had come earlier and timely. Even at that, government’s sincerity with the project is highly questionable especially when it fails to take into cognizance the hardships and inconveniences embedded in wanting to construct such sensitive road for a whole year.
Reacting to the announcement, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG warned that commuters, business owners, residents and other users of the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway would suffer untold hardship following the closure of Wharf Road.
“As at today, only few tank farms have products that tanker drivers from other parts of the country are scrambling for. The influx of tankers from the North to Lagos is massive and there is little or nothing we can do about it. We cannot stop them from coming to Lagos. Most of the tankers you see on that road are not Lagos based. If you evacuate them from that area, there will be fuel scarcity. In fact, as it is today, we cannot even guarantee that there will be no scarcity. We are only trying to manage the situation. We raised this issue when we met with the Minister of Power, Works and Housing’’
Also the Organized Private Sector (OPS) and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (LCCI) which applauded the Federal Government’s response to fix the access road to the Lagos ports warned that total shutdown of the road for one year will cripple the economy. They called on government to create alternative routes for traffic diversion instead of total shut down for 12 months.
“Instead of total shut down for 12 months, government should consider these two options: One, divert ship or cargo to other ports throughout the duration of the construction , and Two, close one side of the road for six months and when you finish it, open it and start work on the other lane,
They (government) can’t afford to shutdown the ports; it is not practical, the shock on the economy will be much,”LCCI Director General, Muday Yusuf, added
According to him, LCCI wants government to create alternative routes and even direct use of rail to drag out containers outside the ports to where they are needed. We should avoid a total shutdown of the port; it will cripple the entire economy,” he warned.
One may therefore be compelled to ask questions on the rationale behind government’s abandonment of the project initially when they weren’t oblivious of the imperativeness of the road. Why will the road take a year when Abuja Airport runways were completed within weeks? Will this decision not be detrimental to the users of the road and those plying the alternative route that will soon experience traffic congestion? Among others.
I hope the disadvantages would not outweigh the advantages. A close observation will reveal the bureaucratic failures that influence the death of government policies. Up till this moment no serious work has begun after the announcement days ago.
In as much that the reconstruction of the Apapa-wharf road is beautiful project, the duration of one year for its completion doesn’t make it impressive.