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Nigeria’s seaport and social depression



Unlike Cote d’Ivoire’s seaport that intersects with service industry and give Cote d’Ivoire over 60 per cent of its GDP, Nigeria’s seaport does not exceed 30 per cent and it is a seaport looked up to service about four landlocked neighbouring countries which could make it more cost effective for them than they currently experience.

Not expecting Nigeria’s seaport to be like that of Singapore which is known to be on quasi auto-pilot, that is free from human intervention as automation reigns supreme there, Nigeria should at least aim at emulating a seaport that is also in the capital, Abidjan, but is not turning a burden to the capital like it is happening in Nigeria.

Portbouet and Vridi are confined areas of Abidjan for seaport operations and they do not make life unbearable to neigbouring urban areas like Koumassi and Treicheville, all in Abidjan like the Apapa wharf is doing to the entire Lagos.

It is as if the current MD of the port is taking the yoga of Queen Amina though in a disturbing manner for Lagos inhabitants.

It is said that she is doing a good job by those who put her there but it is also said that she imposed 24-hour seaport operation without minding the capacity of the system, logistic wise to support such length of time.

In all she is sending more people to depression state as well as the total economy of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s seaport is supposed to be a blessing to Nigerians and its landlocked neighbours but it is turning out to be a curse and if not prevented in running that course of action the unforeseeable could happen.

Servicing only Nigeria makes it an underperforming seaport when Niger Republic, Chad, CAR and even Mali look forward to be serviced by it.

So, when it turns impossible for even Nigerians how then could it get the confidence of those countries.

From Abidjan, a strategic rail line had been put in place to link Niger via Ouagadougouand it makes sense for them to see Abidjan seaport as the favorite.

As reported, Nigeria’s seaport seems to be inward minded for conquering purposes; that is politically stationed to cause havoc and not to grow Nigeria’s GDP for external pride or great international public relations acclaim.

Sometimes one wonders how the same political party that rules the center goes on to undermine the same party in Lagos.

Twenty-four hours port operation is not meant for girls or boys minded people and by what I saw in Milan about six years ago, it is a precision based operation and highly discipline geared.

I visited a town called Padova in Italy and my host called me out in midnight to follow him to work. I obliged.

He had driven me in his one-in-town BMW and I felt really interested in knowing what he does.

From BMW we entered into a truck parked far away from his residence, off to Milan seaport.

The truck I found myself in was like a limousine carrying articulated well-fitted trucks.

Inside the head is bed, AC, fridge, security gadgets and I wondered is this the kind of truck meant to carry containers from the port.

Precisely within 1hour we were at the port and within 40 minutes he had finished loading his truck by himself with available easy loader provided on the spot and we are gone.

He knew precisely what and where to pick his own bit of the port operation and to leave before ever constituting himself a nuisance and, what is more, there is no room as per security gadget placed on the truck to waste any second there.

He had been doing that for over five years and it had been greatly paying as he remained a link between shipped goods that come from outside to end users in Italy that must get the delivery on time precision basis.

So, is time apportioning an issue for Nigeria’s seaport managers?

People knowledgeable in queue theory or lead time management or even the current ‘just in time’ approach could be making laughing stock of Nigeria.

At worst for emergency sake all the stadia in Lagos and Oyo could serve as tank farms as the best we could hear from the stakeholders is that the tank farms are overwhelmed due to the imposition of 24-hour operation.

The fear is that as these trucks line up or encircle Lagos State it does not turn out to be an ‘ogbunigwe’ trap.

The story of ogbunigwe as told by the surviving biafran soldiers was that tanks were lined up for battle from the north down to Abagana in an untactical manner hence just an explosive on any one sparked a chain reaction that destroyed all of them, and the prayer is that it should not repeat itself as a Boko haram strategy.

It is also reported recently that a ship loaded with guns and explosives is making its way to Lagos via South Africa.

Until I visited a sight in the sea in Senegal and saw how canons were placed to shoot and fire from long range during the first world war or second, not to talk of up to date missiles of the new world that can aim with precision, and remembering how former military governor of Lagos ran away from his aboard as he envisaged missiles are targeted at him during Abacha period, no one could easily tell what kind of missiles are aimed at who and for what in this kind of truck ambushing.

I am not an alarmist but common sense requires that humans act within their own capacity before asking God to intervene.

Seaport like the one in Abidjan does not allow the outflow of trucks to other areas of Abidjan beyond Vridi and Portbouet and it is serving Mali, Burkina Faso and other landlocked countries of West Africa.

In Lagos, right from Oshodi through to Mile Two and Amuwo Odofin linking now completely blocked international Badagry road that exit to Benin Republic, trucks abound.

From all the bridges known to lead to Lagos Island trucks are occupying the lanes and, so it has been for almost two years now as if no economic sense minded human beings exist in Nigeria.

I wonder how that could not be seen as corruption because if the poorly paid truck drivers and their helpers are paid like my host in Italy who rides the best BMW known to me, they would not be on the road for that long waiting to be served in 24 hours that stretch to months.

Thinking and planning to make economic sense should be the lot of the port managers.

They should not be thinking like okada and marwa operators in Lagos where people drive or ride without any basic knowledge of road codes or ethics unlike their counterparts in Cotonou where road codes and ethics are greatly observed.

Seriously, it is dangerous to apply rule of thumb in port management as if in okada or marwa operation.

Someone said that the port imposition of 24 hours and its resultant road block in Lagos is helping okada riders and the agberos and it makes one buckle at the rate of imbecility in the country.

We plead that the authorities come to their senses and know that Nigeria’s seaport is contributing in the de-marketing of Nigeria in the global space and it keeps on creating more risk for business people than expected as well as depressing Nigeria’s GDP.

When a law goes on creating more enemies among the people it is supposed to unite then it is high time it was repealed, so said someone; and so, also, applies to 24 hours seaport operation as the logistics fail.

Ariole, a professor of French and Francophone Studies, wrote from University of Lagos.

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