The socio-economic development and subsequent economic growth of any nation is strongly linked to its better state of infrastructure.
Sadly, there had been massive and annoying deficiency of key infrastructure in Nigeria for decades now. Of great importance to an average petroleum tanker driver is road infrastructure. The brunt of the deficiencies in this infrastructure is mostly felt by the members of Petrol Tanker Drivers (PTD) who traverse the length and breadth of the country to ensure supply of petroleum products for private, domestic, commercial and industrial use.
The Lagos branch of NUPENG (PTD) which by the grace of God I have led for umpteenth times had complained bitterly through various medium of communications, pointing out to every government in power the need for them to address the challenges faced by our hardworking members that are often faced with various degrees of hazards occasioned by deplorable roads.
It is regrettable to say that some of our members suffered permanent disability, while some suffered not only lose of products they haulaged but became victims of untimely death. The officials of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) could attest to this, even with verifiable and accurate statistics.
However, it would also be uncharitable for us if we fail to notice significant improvements in infrastructure development from rail to ports, power and roads and refuse to commend or show some measure of appreciation. With no shred of doubts, this administration under the leadership of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) as Federal Minister of Power, Road and Housing has profoundly shown strong commitment and determination to complete both ongoing and abandoned projects by previous administrations.
Honestly when President Muhammadu Buhari made him a minister, I knew he would swing surprises, we can all see things are improving in all the sectors he is currently superintending.
Today, there is no state in Nigeria where the federal government is not executing one road project or the other with the aim of bringing respite and soccour to the people. It is not a mistake or an act of sycophancy to overtly say the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is for real in the interest of Nigerians.
Specifically, the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing has begun the inspection to help ascertain the integrity of the 11.8 kilometres Third Mainland Bridge as preparations are ongoing for its full maintenance and repairs. This deserves commendation, as this is the longest of the three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland, a city adjudged as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria.
Commendably, this effort is a demonstration of the Ministry’s commitment, determination vision, foresight and political will to impact on the lives of the citizenry.
Other highly trafficked roads which are presently opened to construction or rehabilitation by this government are; Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha; construction of the dual carriageway of Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja (Sections I-IV) in FCT/Kogi State; construction of the Kano–Maiduguri dual carriage Road (Sections I-V) in Kano/Bauchi/Yobe/Borno states; and the rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway (Sections I-IV) in Enugu/Abia/Rivers states.
Similarly the Ministry is as well not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring rehabilitation/reconstruction of the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Expressway in Lagos/Oyo states; construction of Loko-Oweto Bridge in Nasarawa/Benue states; reconstruction of outstanding sections of Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Sagamu Road in Edo/Ondo/Ogun states; rehabilitation of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road section I: Odukpani-Itu Bridgehead; and rehabilitation of Ilorin-J’ebba-Mokwa Road.
The Petrol Tanker Drivers branch of NUPENG is giving these open mentions not for any political reasons but to encourage the Ministry to do more. PTD also urges all approving authorities and those saddled with release of capital not to starve concerned ministries with necessary approvals and in situations where extra funds are needed, the National Assembly should not hesitate to approve supplementary budget when called upon to do so for public interest and good.
PTD is specifically delighted to emphasize that the government has prioritized infrastructure development as key in its development agenda for the country. It is also pleasing to see that government has pledged to construct new and comprehensive network of rural access roads and trunk roads to serve the remote and urban areas, safely and efficiently. This will ultimately mark yet another milestone in the development of the country. I commend this development, seeing that this government is walking the talk and endeavoring achieving its campaign promises.
The level and quality of transportation systems in any society are of crucial significance in influencing political, economic and social progress, and these must be considered at every stage of local, national and regional development planning. Without good roads, it is difficult to have socially inclusive development interventions. These include improved accessibility to social infrastructure (schools, churches and health centres), increased access to education and health facilities and improved social interaction and mobility. These are important for social and economic development, improved access to markets through the reduction of transport costs and improvement of the marketability of perishable goods through timely and cheaper transportation.
On the supply side, direct benefits of improved road networks include reduced vehicle operating costs; savings in travel time; reduced accident costs resulting from the upgrade of the proposed roads; possible savings in road maintenance costs (because roads are bound to withstand harsh weather if they are well-maintained). The APC-led government must be commended for this success story. And for us who are key stakeholders in the country’s petroleum downstream value chain, we cannot but express our unalloyed joy for this laudable development at a time like this.
On our part as PTD, we would never renege in entrenching safety on the roads by eschewing unhealthy traffic behaviours. This we would persistently sustain through periodic training for our members and at no time would we compromise minimum safety standard or any other acts that contravene highway code. PTD though has no affiliation with any political party in Nigeria but deemed it appropriate to wish the APC-led government best of luck and success while it drives the country with purpose and vision that would be beneficial to all.
–Oladiti is the National Chairman of Petrol Tanker Drivers Branch of NUPENG, he wrote from Abuja