The nation’s transportation terrain is arguably in shambles and largely ill-coordinated, perhaps, because true experts are in charge.
The Maritime First took up the challenge of seeking them out, and today brings you the revered view of a distinguished Transport Industry professional: the highly informed Bamidele Badejo, a Professor of Transport Geography, from Olabisi Onabanjo, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. He sees undue politicization of the transport sector, as its debilitating albatross!
Prof. How do you see the Nigerian Transport situation today, especially from the eyes of a professional?
I always described it as (running on) two steps forward, five steps backward.
But, in a more jovial way, I would describe it as Action, without Motion.
The major reason for this description is that there is no Government, even from the colonial period, that doesn’t have an interest in Transport and Development, as a very serious agenda. But despite the talk, talk, talk, and the huge interest, our transport sector remains very lopsided.
The major reason that seems to be responsible, is the undue politicization of the sector.
We have many people involved, claiming knowledge and authority over Transport and Development, even when they only have a very minute idea of what the sector is all about.
Another major observation is the economic geography of Nigeria. In the last 50 years, has changed. It was predominantly agriculture.
Today, it has also included oil and gas, solid mineral resources and more importantly, the IT (information technology) areas; meaning that our transport infrastructure development has not really responded to the economic dynamics of the country.
You can imagine the population of Nigeria 50 years ago; and what the population is today.
Our transport infrastructure has not really responded to the crazy growth in the country.
So, if we continue to invest within the context of the way we are investing in the transport sector… and that’s why I said it has been two steps forward and five steps backward!
So, we have a very serious transport deficiency situation on our hands. There must be a deliberate focus; not the kind of focus we are witnessing; but a genuine one, something that would really relate the transport development to the national realities on ground.
If we take the transport industry or Situation from the intermodal perspective and consider the relevance of the road, air, rail and water transportation, particularly the need to link them against the sad reality of the fact that they have been hardly linked or connected, how would you as a professional feel?
That is exactly my argument…!
The issue is in Nigeria, everybody is a professor of knowledge when it comes to transportation. Whereas just as you study Medicine, you study Pharmacy, you study Law and Town Planning; Transport is also a profession that is supposed to be studied, just like all the professions that I have listed.
But what we really have, in the transport sector today, is what we called: People Qualified by Experience (PQE).
A lawyer that works in transport, is an expert. An Accountant that works in transport is an Authority. Even Doctors that work in transport are an authority, after working for up to five to six years; they simply claim the authority of knowledge, in transport.
And I ask myself, what exactly is the curriculum content of knowledge in Transport, especially when you are a medical Doctor, Accountant or lawyer in transport?
My view is that all those professions can not lay claim to being an authority in transport until they first go and learn about what Transport is…!
***Please, see the video…as he talks about the important essence of harmonization between the human mind and equipment, vis a vis, the reality of the sector, where labour is capital intensive…!
TO BE CONTINUED…