By Isaac Orieka
“The driver on the highway is safe not when He reads the signs, but when He obeys them. There is more credit and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive. As a driver, your target is always to be with the most competitive team possible. In any other job, they’re truck drivers”. Creekvibes authoritatively reports.
Not many countries are divinely blessed on earth as Nigeria. Almost many nations worldwide flock to us as the exclusive vehicle to the proverbial promise land. Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and perhaps with a lot of other positive opportunities to tap from. The transport sector in Lagos currently appears to be the worst hit industry in recent time. Many brands and businesses that reap huge rewards from their transactions is now a fitting parody of human capital losses due to the dilapidation of the state of the roads. Especially the erratic trailer and truck drivers menace.
A trip to the Apapa seaports have become an unpleasant experience via Oshodi-Apapa expressway; Surulere Ojuelegba, Alaka, Ijora, Otto Wharf through Orege, Boundary to Marine Beach, Ojo Road, including some other smaller access roads.
More than often, the petroleum tankers and haulage trailers have become the lords in this part of the roads that no time conscious person would want to dare. We now witness an upsurge of collateral damages caused by these merchants of deaths on our roads who have now become more powerful than the state.
If history is anything to go by, the transit system generates millions of jobs for trailers, freight forwarders, importers and terminal operators in Nigeria. Although, we have the transit facilities but we are not doing any transit job. Nigeria is not enlisted as one of the transit recognized nations like Ghana and other smaller countries in the African sub-region.
Petroleum tankers and haulage trailers permanently occupy these roads with their stationary trucks waiting to load petroleum products from the tank farms or returning freight containers to the Wharf. This indiscriminate parking has caused quantifiable loss of man hours to the economy, and endless tracking by commuters to their various destinations and work places.
It is now the norm of these drivers to park their trucks on the flyover bridges that were constructed to accommodate fleeting and transient weight and not stationary containers. These bridges are now in a very bad and dangerous state as their structural composition is in doubt. The bridges have suffered massive depreciation owing to many years of non-maintenance, vandalisation of support facilities like railings and lighting systems.
It should be noted that, many companies in Apapa have been closed, residential properties vacated or either sold and as well advertised for prospective and interested rent seekers.
Even with the consortium of firms like Dangote, NPA etc, who have recently pledged to rehabilitate the Apapa Wharf Road, not much has been achieved as the gridlock continues to affect businesses and job losses. Road construction in Nigeria takes longer period to complete due to government, delays and poor monitoring management by the authorities in charge.
A nation that does not respect the law is a nation that thrives on impunity. The truck drivers are lawless, and even the serviceable state of their trucks raises a lot of concerns. They are always rickety, wobbly and in perpetual state of disrepair. It is a common site to see the trucks fall off the bridges and also killing innocent people. This set of road users tend to operate without any form of regulations, supervision and sanctions experts have suggested long term planning, implementation of manageable policies by government, and remember it is not the extent of change that matters, but recognizing the act of that change and thereby working towards it one step at a time. And not always waiting to adopt the fire brigade approach which barely produces any meaningful result.
Research has shown that most of the drivers are psychologically troubled due to the long hours and days they stay waiting to load petroleum products. Many of them exhibit false memories, violent and deviant behaviour occasioned by a disconnect between the mind and the body, many of these drivers are not literate enough to understand basic road signs or communicate effectively.
LASTMA and the FRSC appears to have lost purpose and direction due to their inability to ensure safety and orderliness. Indeed, government has taken much of what we have for granted as they don’t like to use technocrats to handle key sectors of the economy. We have lost everything we have, it is therefore instructive for the federal government to change the process and the way they do things.
To this extent Creekvibes analytical team urges Nigeria should put adequate structures on ground so that our generation yet unborn can benefit from this nation. Let us try and put sentiments, emotions, tribe apart or else we will face a monumental danger, like a keg of gun powder waiting to explode. Therefore, the secret of success of any nation is on unwavering focus.