The all-embracing phenomenon called transportation is a measure of relationship between places. Transportation performs the role of linking supply and demand. As a means of conveying people, goods and information through places, the provision of transport facilities and services is very crucial to the economic, political, social and cultural life of any country or nation. Thus considered, transport contributes to the overall development of a country since it serves as essential means of collecting, moving, transferring and distributing people as well as goods in from place to place.
Importation and exportation depends so much on transportation which provides the movement and logistics for the goods imported or for export. In real terms, transport development is considered one of the greatest technological breakthroughs. This is because man has through this feats recreated the concept of distance and nearness.
The socio-political relationship between countries could not have been possible without transport links between them. Transport can therefore be labeled as the catalyst that stimulates and improves human existence on earth and reduces distance for man’s trips in space. It is also clear that through transport, man has been able to move in space, circulate around the urban areas or centres of the world, thereby improving and enhancing his knowledge on planet earth.
Akinbami & Fadare (1998). A transportation system can enhance the productivity and quality of life of a community if properly planned and managed. At the same time, development stimulates demand for transport.
The rapid urbanization around the world means that more people will be making more trips in urban areas. Since, transportation is the life wire of any urban society; it could make or mar the environment depending on the interactive measures and degree of responsiveness to transport planning and management in urban development. Transportation is the life-wire of any urban environment. It is central to the flow of knowledge, information and commercial goods. The type of available transport, and how they are used, tells a great deal about a society and its values. (Oni 2003)
PROBLEMS MILITATING AGAINST THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN NIGERIA
Human Factors: Indiscipline and Corruption, Enforcement problems (Disobedience and Disregard for law), poor driving habits, market and marketing activities, stacking of building materials on roads and occasional traffic/parking over spill from religious and social centers.
Poor Transit Facilities – Lack of sidewalks, pedestrian walkways, cycle ways, bus stops, and traffic control devices; and lack of Traffic Information Systems.
Rampant Land-use Change – Irregular and uncontrolled High Rise development, unguided redevelopment programmes; and commercialization of residential land-use.
Unguided and Inconsistent Land-use Planning Practices – No systematic guide/plan to guide the city’s growth, and lack of an integrated, comprehensive and coordinated positive policy; poor and non-integrative institutional arrangement. Environmental deficiencies and general urban management problems frequent friction and conflicting responsibility among different levels of government over land-use controls.
On 3rd June 2005, in a speech entitled “Reform of Transport Sector In Nigeria” presented by the then Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo, at the financial bid opening of Port Harcourt Port Terminals “A” and “B” at L’Meridien Hotel, Abuja, the Honourable Minister confirmed to Nigerians that “transportation occupies a central position in the socio-economic and political development of any nation” and further confirmed that “successive Nigerian governments have left the transport sector comatose as a result of total neglect”. He listed the following as being characteristic of the Nigerian transportation system: excessive government monopoly; grounded rail system whose services are more or less inefficient; obsolete and deficient transport policy; under-developed inland waterways transportation, ports and port services that leave much to be desired, and (wait for it!) corruption.
This was during Obasanjo’s term, exactly three years ago. What exactly has changed since then, you ask me? Nothing. It is quite possible that the same rhetoric were uttered by several previous Transport Ministers twenty, fifteen or ten years ago. Still no change, all have been empty speeches and promises. It is not surprising to most Nigerians. Every administration and ministers come and go, failed to leave their marks, fail to deliver and the next thing you know, the Minister is a billionaire.
Dr Sekibo, amongst other things, also admitted that the entire transport system was sliding on a downward gradient and could no longer provide vital links that would support socio-economic activities in a modern society. Damn right, you were!
I would not like to go through his entire speech, but the Minister recognised, at least in his speech, and playing to the gallery as is typical of our politicians, which a lot of work needed to be done to improve, develop and sustain our transportation system.
WAY FORWARD FOR TRANPORTATION PROBLEMS IN NIGERIA
The present system of transportation can be described as ‘highways’ to nowhere, therefore, there is urgent need to engage professionals to assist in achieving functional, responsive, sustainable and beyond sustainability of transport in Nigeria. Many researchers have written concerning the sustainable measures for proper Nigeria’s transportation systems.
Sustainable transportation involves infrastructure investments and travel policies that serve multiple goals of economic development, environmental stewardship and social equity. (Spaethling, 1996). A sustainable transportation system has its goal service output and stewardship of the landscape and resource base, not simply the efficiency of the highway system. The objective of which is to maximize the use of the transportation system to achieve economic and related social and environmental goals, without sacrificing the ability of future generations to do so. This can be accomplished by: Concentrating on moving people and goods rather than vehicles or avoiding movement altogether if telecommunications or changes in land use can substitute for present travel needs Increasing the use of market – based policies to encourage innovation in transportation operations and to capture the full environmental and social cost of transportation Improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure through technical fixes in a multi-modal network, and Addressing public concerns regarding social equity in system design. (Oni, 2002).
In Sekibo speeches (2005) where he mentioned the existing modes of transportation in Nigeria – rail, road, inland waterways, etc – and aptly described them as inadequate, inefficient and ineffective, due to the above reasons given. He then outlined the proposed Government plans to resuscitate the transportation system, including putting in place, a 25-year prospective Rail Development Plan, concessioning of railway transport services, rehabilitating of key trunk roads and welcoming investment in road construction and maintenance, and restoration of the lost glory of inland waterways transportation, capacity building and development, and finally ended by saying that “our mission is to bequeath to this nation an efficient, sustainable, affordable and environmentally friendly inter-modal transport system through Public Private Partnership (PPP) either through concessioning, joint ventures or Build Own Operation and Transfer (BOOT arrangements”.
Oni, (2002) Government should adjusts the following strategies
Public enlightenment on the need for regular maintenance of vehicles, use of appropriate tyres, corrects driving habits and relative energy efficiency of various vehicles, eradicate the sale of adulterated and leaded fuel, set up emission standards for imported vehicles, promote research on alternative energies such as electricity and solar energies, as well as phased programme of low-emission automobile fuel such as unleaded gasoline and compressed natural gas, need to recognize professionalism in transport management initiatives, need for database and information networking on land use, land use pattern, demographic and population attributes mapping of the physio-graphic situation, industrial developments their locations and localization and socio-economic activities, need for transport development plan and conference whereby all stakeholders in the area of transportation are brought together to articulate
Maintenance management system, Heavy investment on transport infrastructure/furniture, improvements in urban land use practices, improvements in telecommunication services
Akinbami, F. K. & Fadare, S. O. (2002). Strategies for sustainable urban and transport development in Nigeria Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Adeniji, K. (2000) “Transport challenges in Nigeria in the Next Two Decades” keynote Address presented at the 5th National Council on Transport Meeting organized by the Federal Ministry of Transport, held at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja 29th –31st August, 2000.
Mechelec Consortium (1995): Transport Improvement Study for Lagos State Ministry of Public Transportation, Ikeja.
Challenges of transportation in Nigeria
World Bank (1991): Report on Nigeria: Urban Transport in Crisis, Washington, D.C. 1991.
Spaethling, D. (1996) “Sustainable Transportation – The American Experience” in 24th European Transport Forum Proceedings of Seminar C. Planning for Sustainability PTRC 1996.
ONI, S.I. (2000) “Education and Training for Road Traffic Safety in Nigeria” in Proceedings of the International Conference CODATU IX, Mexico City 11 – 14 April, 2000. Edited by Oscar Diaz Gonzalez Palomas & Christian Jamet pp. 913 – 918.
Oni, S.I. (2002) Metropolisation of Urban Transport Development: Example of Lagos, Nigeria Department of Geography University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria.