Monday, March 16, 2009

Is Gov. Gbenga Daniel Serious At All?

I wrote last week about we can start to reposition the transport sector, if Pres. Yar’Adua is really serious about his Vision 20-20 Agenda. However I seem to always get distracted by other issues, some of which are not totally unrelated to the transport system.

We are a nation with visionless leadership. Our leaders have failed in every tier of government. When you read about projects been proposed or undertaken at national, state or local government level, you can’t help it but laugh. Instead of developing long term strategy for infrastructure development, our leaders waste tax payers on stupid grandiose projects that lack any sort of public benefit. The short-sightedness of our leaders is one of the main reasons Nigeria has failed to develop.

As an example, I read in today’s edition of the Punch Newspaper that Gov Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State distributed 500 taxi cabs in Abeokuta under its Gateway Metro Transport Scheme. The state government intends to distribute 800 taxis under the scheme – which is in its fourth phase.

The Governor was noted to have said that the increasing commercial activities had stretched the transportation system in the state to a critical level, and that the system required a more proactive approach.

According to the Governor, “The new economic posture assumed by our state has continually stretched to almost its unbearable limits the transportation system in the state, especially in the metropolis. The people have had to wait long hours to get vehicles to convey them and their goods from one place to another as demand continue to outstrip supply with prices of commuting resultantly becoming more expensive.”

What manner of proactive transport planning policy is distribution of taxi cabs? How will taxi cabs help contribute to improvement of the transport system? Who actually advises the Governor on transport matters? Who are the bureaucrats advising these politicians? I wouldn’t be surprised if the beneficiaries of taxi scheme are either his cronies or member of his political parties.

According to the 2006 census figures, the population of Ogun State is estimated as 3.7 million. I want to believe that this number is grossly underestimated. Rapid urbanisation of Lagos has spread into some Ogun state townships. There are a significant number of people who live in towns like Sagamu, Ibafon, Mowe, Otta etc who travel to Lagos daily for work. Is Gov Daniel aware of how many commuting from places like Otta, Odogunyan into Lagos daily? The Lagos-Benin expressway corridor is one of the fastest growing parts of the country.

His counterpart (Gov Fashola of Lagos) has left indelible mark in Lagos within two years of assuming office. Whether go or bad, the Bus Rapid Transit has now been operating for about year. He his also on the verge of implementing, what I will say is the biggest infrastructure project in Nigeria in the last three decades (i.e. light rail). However, what can Gov. Daniel show for his six years in office? 500 taxis!

The Governor should be partnering Lagos in areas of transport infrastructure development. For me, Lagos and Ogun is a sub-region. It is for this reason that the Lagos Mega City Project includes Ogun state. Both states should be developing a joint transport strategy. Some of their key priorities should include areas, I have mentioned. Urban planning in the Lagos-Benin corridor also needs serious attention. The state government cannot continue to create new towns along a major highway with national strategic significance without any plan on how it will deal vehicle access issues. Development of key infrastructure should be done objectively and should be devoid of partisan politics.

Unfortunately, the likes of Gov. Daniel encapsulate the mediocre leadership structure that exists in our nation.

1 comment:

Esiarp Elegbede said...

One would be judged right to assume the "so called" as mere political honeylickers who as you'd rightly stated are either cronies or party members. You can only assume how easy it is for an elephant to walk stresslessly through a needle-hole than for an "off caucus" member to own such taxis. There are even many of such taxis being used as private cars by some better-influenced beneficiaries. Smh