Lagos Port congestion: A conversation, by Hope Eghagha


Lagbaja: The madness of the Lagos Port congestion kills me; reminds me of the cement armada of the 1970s, which seriously embarrassed the Gowon administration.

Onome: We have since progressed beyond that – nothing embarrasses us anymore. Snakes now swallow millions of naira and disappear into thin air, a Senator of the Federal Republic shows up with a snake charmer to charm the money-swallowing snake, the nation’s Defence Minister has justified herdsmen killing innocent citizens ‘because their sacred cows were stolen’ and the American President has described our homeland as shithole. My dear we are beyond embarrassment.

Lagbaja: Please leave out that ugly clown in the White House from this matter. His name should not be mentioned in a civilised discourse!

Onome: Whatever you say, it is clear that monkeys are beginning to wear shoes to the shopping mall!

Lagbaja: Tragically sad. ‘Clowning as national policy, national pastime’ – good title for a serious essay on foolishness. Even when my nose is congested I can’t sleep well; when the national port is congested how may the nation sleep?

Onome: This nation can’t sleep. The nation has swallowed a long pestle and coming is not possible; going is difficult.

Lagbaja: Haba! It’s not that bad! It’s just a congestion of the port!

Onome: Is the Port really congested? I thought it was the terrible condition of the port-road and the manual way of doing business inside the port that have created the national embarrassment in Lagos.

Lagbaja: You are right there. It’s the road from and to the port that has turned the world upside down.

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Onome: Well, the world in my part of the country has not been turned upside down. Well, let me put it differently- the world in my part of the country is upside down, but not from port congestion. If anything, the ports are crying for patronage.

Lagbaja: Look here my friend; everything should not be seen from the narrow prism of north and south or Niger Delta and the rest of the country

Onome: But you started it by asserting that because the Lagos port is behaving Nigerian then the world is upside down. Lagos is not synonymous with Nigeria. That is the arrogance of the major ethnic groups!

Lagbaja: I thought we were discussing the Port!

Onome: The port in Lagos is congested; it has spilled thousands of trailers into the streets of Lagos, all the way from Apapa. Yet the ports in Sapele, Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Koko are idle!

Lagbaja: Emmm!

Onome: Is it, would it not be reasonable to divert ships to the other ports, reduce congestion in Lagos and stimulate the economy of the other cities?

Lagbaja: That makes sense; that’s a reasonable suggestion.

Onome: Commonsense economics. We are playing foolish politics with the whole rubbish; politics of greed and selfishness. Is it not risky, is it not foolishness to concentrate all imports in one port?

Lagbaja: Sonny Oti used to tell us in class that commonsense is not common. Perhaps they are scared of the Niger Delta Avengers and the angry pirates of the Niger Delta!

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Onome: What about the ships that sail to Onne for natural gas? Have they been attacked by pirates of the Delta?

Lagbaja: May be it’s the sand bars and not-so-deep Sea ports that have prevented the policy makers from doing the right thing…

Onome: I grew up to see ocean liners discharge cargo in Sapele Ports. The first time I saw those big ships was in Burutu when UAC governed the business world. Everyone knows that with the proper will and drive the other ports will save the situation

Lagbaja: I must tell this to the President…

Onome: The President? Where do you hope to see him? How do you plan to see him?

Lagbaja: I will go to Aso Rock or write a letter. I am told the President reads all the newspapers. He may even read this dialogue and consider your suggestions!

Onome: Will the cabal allow you to see him? Will the cabal allow him to read?

Lagbaja: I could be a member of the cabal! We shall make him read this…

Onome: Hehehehehehehe! Don’t let me laugh like Robert Mugabe!

Lagbaja: You may laugh like Jacob Zuma or Paul Biya or all members of the Dictators’ Club for all I care. This is a serious matter. I am a cabal, a one-man cabal.

Onome: You have watched too much of Ali Baba and Gordons!

Lagbaja: I know how prophets are treated in their homes…

Onome: Very soon you will perform miracles and wake the dead!

Lagbaja: Foul mouthed nincompoop!



Onome: Wooly-brained apologist. How much have they given you to defend the stupidity of the status quo?

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Lagbaja: Back to serious matters. I fear the pressure on the bridges in Lagos. Those bridges were guilt over fifty years ago and were not designed to station such heavy vehicles on them indefinitely. I shudder when I think that they could give way!

Onome: A panel would be set up to unravel the cause and catch the culprits! And we would move on to another disaster!

Lagbaja: What has become of the fellows who illegally imported arms and ammunition into the country through the Lagos port?

Onome: They are facing prosecution in court.

Lagbaja: I hope powerful forces will not bury the case!

Onome: That won’t be new. Nothing shocks us, nothing is impossible. Just wondering whether some managed to enter the country before the intercept!

Lagbaja: Hmmm! If we allow the Niger Delta ports then the Avengers would flood the country with arms and…

Onome: There you go again! Giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it! Why must we go negative all the time when it comes to the Niger Delta? This is a region that has produced all the wealth that built the Lagos bridges, the national highways. Is it too much to make their ports function so that the quality of life there would step up a bit.

Lagbaja: I must tell the President. The President will hear this. Let us meet again next week and consider Mr. President’s reaction. Even Femi my amiable friend in the Presidency should read this and tell his oga!

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