8th August, 2011
The shame of the nation, which is an apt description of the dilapidated Apapa-Oshodi expressway, has begun to get the much needed attention from the Federal Government after so many years of neglect. It was as if officials of the Federal Ministry of Works were so blind that they did not see how deplorable the condition of that road was until recently when they began to give it a facelift after the media began to publish embarrassing photographs of the road. Or could it be that the funds budgeted for the repair of the road ended up in private coffers? We may never know.
Isnâ€™t it curious that a strategic road that links the nationâ€™s largest seaports, the Tin Can Island Port and the Apapa Port could be abandoned to the extent that motorists have to spend at least five hours to complete a journey of less than 10 minutes if that road was in good condition?
To make matters worse, trucks that wait to evacuate goods from the ports are parked indiscriminately on the road, thus endangering the lives of other road users. The other day, the Controller of Works in the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Ejike Mgbemena, said he was appalled by a situation where illegal structures, banks, petrol stations are built on drainage channels thereby obstructing the flow of flood water on the expressway. Where were the officials of Ministry of Works when these illegal structures were being built on the drainage channels? If they didnâ€™t compromise themselves or allowed their palms to be greased, we wouldnâ€™t have had the kind of chaotic situation we are contending with on that road.
It should be stated that only a functional railway system will save our roads from the damage caused by the haulage trucks that ply them daily. The government will be deluding itself if it thinks the life-span of the roads could be prolonged without reducing the number of trucks that ply the roads. This can be done if the government makes a conscious effort to revamp the comatose railway transportation.The best way to haul goods from the ports to the hinterland in other countries is by railway system.
An efficient railway system is key to a sustainable economic development as it is the best means of hauling a large number of people, heavy machinery, equipment, goods, etc. across long distances without damaging the roads as the case with haulage trucks and the danger they pose to other road users.
The private sector should be fully involved in the development of railway transportation since it has become clear that the government cannot successfully do it alone. This will reduce the load burden on the roads and reduce accidents caused by bad roads and haulage trucks.
The 400 and 600 capacities truck park being built opposite the Tin Can Island Port should be completed speedily to prevent trucks from parking on the expressway.