NIGERIA cannot survive on half implemented policies. The foresights on which the planning of the country were based at independence have been jettisoned for measures that sustain impressions that the country does not have a future. A simple example is the infrastructure used in distributing fuel, when it is available.
The railways distributed fuel for more than 15 years after independence. The facilities for fuel distribution are evident at the ports where the rails criss-crossed into the fuel depots, whether they were imported or blended locally.
The same rail system runs through most of the industrial estates that the regional governments established. At Ikeja Industrial Estate, disused rail lines are still visible in the compounds of most of the industries. The same applied to industrial estates elsewhere. Most of the manufacturing hubs were located by the rails for easy movements of their finished goods to the markets and transportation of raw materials from the ports.
The madness that goes on in Lagos, in the name of fuel tankers loading from facilities in Apapa, is a manifestation of blindness to planning. How does anyone expect that tanks bearing 33,000 litres of products would cover the country, especially now that professional pipeline breakers have defeated that once economic means of moving products around?
Everyday the tankers block the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Nigeria’s main access to her busiest ports, waiting for their turn to load products. Where there is product scarcity, the lines of trucks, heading to the ports, and tankers waiting petroleum products can stretch for kilometres.
The situation exacerbates security issues on the route. Additionally, the pressure from the heavy presence of these huge trucks is already damaging the road that is under re-construction. The bridges on the route are at greater risks. Most of them have become the parking lots of these heavy vehicles. The dangers the practice pose to the health of the bridges are merely discussed.
If the rails worked, they would have been evacuating goods from the ports and the fuel terminals with greater ease. There is also need to improve ports outside Lagos.
Congestions at the Lagos ports make it imperative for government to hasten the re-development of the ports in Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Warri. The neglect visited on them hugely accounts for the chaos at the Lagos ports.
Some experts have argued that if the other ports were working, the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Benin-Shagamu Expressway, which frequently decay from the weight of the imports from Lagos ports, would have longer life spans. The saving could be enormous and invested on other infrastructure.
Without the rails and more ports, governments would keep wasting resources on over-burdened roads.