Time for evolving effective intermodal transport system in the country

Last week, the maritime media was awash with news about the bad shape of the Ijora Apapa Bridge in Lagos, of which the maritime stakeholders that use it more often fear may collapse anytime.

It goes without saying that if the bridge collapses, and we pray it does not; the loss both in human and material capital will be colossal. Given cases of pressure on our bridges and roads which grow by day, Nigerians have variously called for a more pragmatic approach to integrating all forms of transportation system in the country to avoid over using the roads.
Many Nigerians have argued that while God has blessed this country with other modes of transportation with vast advantages, the government has not shown enough interest in harnessing these other means and this has left the road under pressure with obvious implications.
Intermodal transportation like we know is the movement of passengers or freight from one mode of transport to another, commonly taking place at a terminal specifically designed for such purpose.  Intermodal transportation system pertains to the availability of more than one form of transportation such as road, rail, air and water on a single journey.
For instance, a good model of intermodal transportation should allow a commuter from say Rivers state to connect Lagos by water, and then connect Aba from Lagos by rail, Lagos to  Ibadan by air and  road and Ibadan to Kaduna by rail and such other linkages that would create a viable network within the country. It is believed that this type of movement will reduce travel time and cost.
Analysts have variously acknowledged that there are numerous and weighty difficulties in Nigerian transport development. These challenges range from inferior quality of networks,  shortages and malfunctioning of transport equipment and furniture,  lack of executive capacity and technically-qualified personnel, inadequate planning and coordination, inadequate capital and the legacy of unfortunate economic and political policies, continued concentration of transport development on intra and inter-city linkages and the relative neglect of rural transport,  institutional gridlocks, amongst others.
Since transportation is the pivot around which the wheel of every modern economy revolves, the efficiency with which people, goods and services can move from one point to the other largely determines the quality of life of the society .Lagos, the number one commercial city in the country presents a case study.  The heavy traffic that pounds the bridges daily, it has become imperative that something urgent needs to be done to reduce over use of the roads before it is too late.
Given the fact that Lagos is the financial hub of Nigeria, where the majority of the country’s financial institutions and multinational companies have their head offices and the plethora of busy markets located, it is therefore expected that any disruptions in the free flow of vehicular movement in and out of the city will always bring chaos.
.Our over reliance on a poorly maintained and inadequate network of roads has been the undoing of a developed transportation system in Nigeria. Our rail system though it gradually receiving attention now was moribund for long due to lack of attention from successive government at the centre. It still shows.
Since transportation is on the concurrent list in our constitution, all levels of governments in the country analysts posit must as a matter of urgency accept responsibility for the failed state of our transportation system and must contribute meaningfully for evolving an efficient intermodal transport system.
Road managers like the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi has advocated the creation of an intermodal transportation system in Nigeria as according to him overdependence on road has led to inefficiency with negative consequences on movement of people and goods across the country.
He noted in Lagos recently at a media interactive session that overdependence on road transportation has put unnecessary pressures on road infrastructure with many portions of the roads constantly failing and serving as death traps for unsuspecting motorists. He expressed dismay at the situation where goods that should have been transported either through rails or waterways are badly conveyed through vehicles with wear and tears that affect the state of the roads and vehicles.
The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amechi has also made his intention openly on the adverse effect over reliance on road transportation.
Earlier this year, the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) Zaria, in partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), came to Lagos to carry out a density survey of available transportation modes in the state. Underscoring the centrality of the transport mapping to planning, the NIIT Director-General and Chief Executive, Alhaji Aminu Yusuf, said the survey was to help develop a solid foundation for a multimodal transport data platform collection, and to carry out a comprehensive warehousing of these database.
Yusuf, who acknowledged that the project was recommended after series of stakeholders meetings held between 2013 and 2014, said Lagos was picked for the pilot exercise because it promises to give a more reliable Transport Data Base (TDB) that might be used across the country.
Nigerians have become tired of motion without movements and are calling for the government to wake up and smell the coffee before all the bridges collapse from over use.

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