By Jaye Gaskia
I will start with a confession! I am no economist, at least not a formally trained one! And At no point in my life did attend any course, nor was I even anywhere near Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, LSE or Howard!
Nevertheless I am a political-economist, schooled in the training grounds of the collective experience of our common struggles, partly self-tutored, so perhaps you can now understand where I am coming from.
Now let us get back to the central thrust of this write up; Travelling in Nigeria. Transportation which is the system and structure in place to facilitate the movement of humans, goods, and services; is like living through hell in our country; And it does not matter the mode or means of transportation, the experience is the same.
Whether you are fortunate enough to be able to afford air-travel, or you travel by road or by boat on the rivers or creeks; the end result is the same!
A 50km or 100km journey by road, something which ought not to take more 40 to 80 minutes at the maximum, ends up taking 3 to 4 hours because of the condition of the roads, and the state of our commercial vehicles! The roads are littered with pot-holes, most of the cars are in near unserviceable conditions; the 50 to 70 kilometer stretch from Lokoja turn off through Kabba, and Isanlu to Egbe, then takes you 3 hours instead of 1 hour; and that is if you manage to complete the journey in one stretch and at one go!
It is the reason why a 50Km trip, that would have been made well under the hour then attracts exhorbitant fares! The commercial drivers, good natural economists that they are, charge per hour, factoring in the increased rate of wear and tear on their vehicles; and not per hour!
These are just some of the hidden costs of travelling on our roads; the other hidden costs include, the cost attached to the sheer uncertainty of the enterprise; the costs in the heightened risk associated not only with the run-down nature of the roads and the cars, but also with the time wasted making the journey, the enhanced risks with respect to safety and security, because the more time wasted and taken, the more the likelihood of travelling under conditions of reduced visibility of the evening and night! Given all of these, a journey that should normally take a few hours becomes a full day’s journey; while economic and social transactions, the reason for the trip in the first place, planned for a day, then becomes a two to three days affair!
Has anyone of our Harvard and LSE trained economists ever bothered to calculate the real, total and associated costs of all of these to our economy? To the health and state of wellbeing of our people?
And what about air-travel? One would have thought that because it is a mode suited to the elites, that the situation and context here would be any better? Alas, we are not so blessed, we were not meant to be so lucky with the burden of the kind of political elite and ruling class we have been saddled with.
The almost normal situation for air-travel in our country is the experience of constant and incessant delays, against the background of a culture of entrepreneurship that treats customers and clients as people you are helping, and not people you are contractually bound to serve!
Flights are delayed, and sometimes even get cancelled, without any explanations, without any remorse, and with scant regard for the rights of the customers. So a one hour flight; and a one day business or social trip ends up becoming a full day trip [with the hours spent at the airport waiting for the eternally delayed flight]; while a one day business trip becomes at the minimum, a two or more likely, a three day business trip; with all the attendant additional, unplanned, and unnecessary associated costs.
Again none of our Harvard tutored economists or world bank experienced leaders seem to be aware of the weight and burden, the scale and scope of this unnecessary additional cost of doing business; and therefore the effect of this on making our economy progressively relatively uncompetitive and inefficient, while making the processes of production and distribution of goods and services, ineffective and unnecessarily prolonged and difficult.
It is a major reason why the economy is not creating or holding jobs, why businesses go bust after a few years, why productivity rate is near stagnant! But what do they care? These foreign trained economists and [MIS]-Managers of our economy and polity; What do they care? We take care of all their costs, so why should they feel the weight of the burden of their ineptitude on us all?
Why is all of these happening with us; In Africa’s wealthiest and most populous country [with abundance of natural resource and human capital]? Why has the state of transportation remained this dismal in spite of the fact that since 1999, the nation has committed nearly N2tn to Federal roads development alone; and another almost N1tn in substantive and intervention funds to the aviation sector? The only reason we can adduce for this must be the incompetence, ineptitude, and of course, the gluttonous greed of our treasury looting, light fingered elite!
Again as always we are left with the conclusion, that our destiny is in our own hands, and that we must hearken to take collective, and urgent steps to Take Back Nigeria from the vice grip of these rapacious pillagers of our collective wealth.
(Visit: takebacknigeria.blogspot.com; Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & @[DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on Facebook: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria)