Like every sector of a nation’s economy, the success of transportation can be attributed to the quality representation and contribution of the professionals to the growth and development; however, Nigerian transport experts have been guilty of been too shy to speak the truth to politicians.
Transportation is an essential part of economic development and one of the indices for measuring the development of a country. Nevertheless, Nigeria’s transport system lacks good network required for the expansion of economic activities by improving accessibility and facilitates movement of goods including agricultural commodities in all the nooks and cronies of the country as well as the inflow and outflow of import and export.
Speaking with MMS Plus on the sidelines at the Investiture Ceremony of the newly elected President of CIoTA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh in Lagos, the Chairman, Centre for Values in Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi lamented that professionals and experts in the transport sector have been too shy to tell politicians the truths and guide them according about the sector.
According to Prof. Utomi, in every discipline or endeavour of life, knowledge matters especially at such a time that the world thrives in a knowledge-driven age.
Utomi said; “It is only in Nigeria that you hear people say something is just theory and there is no action to the theory. It is people who have thought through things that then make for actions that last and the results are sustainable. The problem in Nigeria is that we don’t think through things thoroughly so we make mistakes and come back and keep repeating things yet the cost of those mistakes keep getting very high”
He noted that when enough knowledge is applied and things are thought through and the right people are involved in deliberating on the issues, the policies and actions taken have lasting value with little errors.
“CIoTA can be very significant if it is ready to make the push and take necessary steps in the best interest of the transport sector. Too often we are too shy of speaking the truth to those in power and that is the problem that we have in the country as we don’t have rigorous public conversation” he added.
Similarly, the former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) blamed transport professionals for allowing the nation’s transport infrastructure to deteriorate to the present state even as he expressed optimism that a positive change has been observed with regards infrastructural development in recent times.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to ensure quality maintenance of transport infrastructure especially the roads, Sarumi admonished the Ministry of Works to allow the States handle the responsibility and support them with the appropriate funding.
“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.
He also reiterated the sacrosanct role of transport experts admonishing the newly inaugurated executives of CIoTA to resolve the traffic situation in Apapa and return the city to the golden glorious era.
“The role of the transport professionals can never be overemphasized and that is why the CIoTA is saddled with a significant responsibility to correct the administrators when they make wrong decisions that could be detrimental to the nation’s transport system and the economy” he added.
Sarumi also harped on the need to expand the port access roads in Apapa and its environs to carter for the increased volume of activities at the ports as mere repairs and rehabilitation wouldn’t solve the gridlock in the long term.
Also speaking at the event, the President, CIoTA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh has assured Nigeria that the Institute would pursue measures, in collaboration with other Government agencies to ease the gridlock on ports access roads, introduce volunteer service for a more effective intermodal transportation and make the nation’s ports become more competitive.
“The Problem of this sector is synonymous to the problems of Nigeria. We as professionals we will try to look at the problems from three aspects: there are the problems we can solve on the short term, medium term and long term basis. We will collaborate with ports security and other agencies to see how we can ease off the Apapa gridlock which is the short term aspect” he said.
He added that the introduction of intermodal transportation would eliminate the perennial traffic on the ports access roads and reduce costs of doing business.
Jamoh stressed that intermodal transportation was essential in moving cargo, noting that once there is ease of transportation, things would move easily, and commended the Federal Government on the rail revolution.
“Today we are using rail line from Abuja to Kaduna which was completed by this government. There is also mono rail transport from Abuja city to Airport, the Lagos -Abeokuta is already functioning and now Abeokuta to Ibadan. By the time we start looking at the cargo movement using the rail line, you agree with me that most of traffic problems will now reduce to about 40 to 50 per cent” he said.
On his part, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside lamented that in the past the administrators didn’t look at the future.
Dakuku who was represented by the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Gambo Ahmed said; “There was no futuristic plans in the past. We only looked at solutions that we convenient at the time. Imagine having two major ports in one area yet surrounded by many tankfarms, there is no way for trucks to access the facilities and no rail system to take goods from the ports to other parts of the country. These problems gave birth to the intermodal transport system that has come to the front burner today”
He stressed that transportation issues weren’t problems that could be addressed overnight as the effects of certain policies or infrastructure developments or deficits would be felt over a period of time.
However, Gambo expressed optimism that the nation’s transport sector would could to improve noting the high level of professionals in the transport sector as a good omen, especially at NIMASA which had produced the Presidents of Womens’ International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Transport Administrators (CIoTA) Nigeria.
“The onus is on the high level of professionals to provide other creative means of resolving the problems in the industry. The place of professionalism can’t overemphasized; sometimes you look at the way truck drivers park haphazardly on the Apapa roads and wonder if they like the problem. We can sympathize with them knowing that there is no provision for them to park their trucks but that doesn’t validate their indiscriminate parking” he added.
Meanwhile, the President of CILT Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Jibril admonished new CIoTA executives to partner with it in the bid to push for the necessary transport sector bills pending before the Senate and the presidency.
According to Jibril, such synergy between CIoTA and CILT could lead to a transformation of the nation’s transport sector.
“While I congratulate you on your emergence as new executives, I enjoin you to come forward and collaborate with CILT Nigeria to resolve the numerous transportation problems in Nigeria” Jibril said.