“Politics is not an end, but a means. It is not a product, but a process. It is the art of government. Like other values it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service”- Calvin Coolidge
One can draw several submissions from this Calvin Coolidge’s apt saying on politics and governance but for the purpose of this write-up, the question for Apapa road is – why the Nigerian government has become characterized by cunning and selfish activities rather than sincere service.
The roads linking to the Lagos ports have rightly become very popular for all manner of criticisms on the media but last week Thursday port users experienced the height of the blockage as people had to trek from the Coconut down to Tin Can Island Port gate as the stretch along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway was impassable even for motorcycles from 7:30am to 9:30am.
However, the deterioration in the access road to the cash cow of the country, the nation’s ports, especially Lagos ports which accounts for over N10billion daily revenue accruing to the government is to say the least criminal. One may ask why policymakers and operators of the present government are insensitive and carefree about the affairs of the people and the nation, but the situation of Oshodi-Apapa gives credence to the assertion that some cabals (which include high profile terminal operators and shipping companies) want the status quo to remain.
Approaching the Tincan Island Port from Mile Two on Oshodi-Apapa expressway shows all that is not well with the country. Lines of trailers bearing different sizes of containers stretch endlessly with fuel tankers and some haulage trucks driving against traffic to escape the gridlock. Passenger buses have long made running on the wrong lane a valid traffic rule as the other lane could be completely impassable for several hours. Residents of the area appear not to care about their hygiene or the fact that also transit via the road as they conveniently utilize a sizable portion of the road for heaps of refuse.
Motorcycles have become the respite for those who must use this road but filth has taken three-quarters of the road, narrowing it into a single lane where both vehicles and motorbikes driving one-way struggle for space. On Thursday last week most port users were seen jumping from one end of the road to other, as there was no room for motorcycles. The poor state of the road coupled with brisk rainfall in the early hours of the day converted all passersby to athletes, including Customs bigwigs like the Public Relations Officer at the Tin Can Customs Command, Mr. Uche Ejesieme who was also seen jumping potholes that morning.
Considering the fact that this road leads to one of Nigeria’s busiest and biggest sea port- the Tincan Port- several tank farms and other money-spinning businesses, one would have thought that keeping it in good shape would be a top priority of government, but the reverse is the case.
Issues of bad or impassable roads in Nigeria may not attract much attention as it has become the rule other than the exception. Now, residents and commuters have resigned themselves to their fate, while some businesses there continue to count their losses. Several companies have relocated; others have shut-down as a serious of the multiple challenges of doing business in the area.
How many people would have to die before the government realizes the importance of fixing the road? The repairs on Wharf to Flour Mills axis, another other areas in Apapa would be an effort in futility if the major road linking the ports to the mainland remains in such shambolic state.
Despite repairs, the Ijora axis has become a musical chair as each patched portion fails shortly after work on it and before other parts are fixed. This leaves the area in perpetual state of disrepair. Talk of ignoring the goose that lays the golden egg and the promises of change, maybe this is the change we were promised. Maybe we simply allowed ourselves to be fooled into to believing in such ‘miraculous’ change in the first place.
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