As heavyweight of truck imports, we need a rethink

Every day I sit surprised, watching as freight vehicles struggle to pull the heavy loads they have been saddled with, while belching out thick and dark smokes. Nigerian industries can not do without these freight trucks, these trucks play an enormous logistical support for industries, but then the almighty question comes to be; how many of these trucks were manufactured or assembled in Nigeria? Non, sad to say.

Real-life statistics along Enugu-Markudi expressway from July to September 10 this year, show that Nigeria's trucks usage is championed by 11 different truck brands. Given the fact that freight trains have been silent in operation, if not non-existent in Nigeria, the power house of haulage for heavy duty materials can not be denied to be these smoke-fuming trucks. The Enugu-Markudi single-carriage expressway is the sole roadway that links the Eastern parts of Nigeria directly to the Middle-Belt and up farther deep into the Northernmost parts of Nigeria.

So, a lot of haulage takes place on this very road. From July to September (8:00am to 6:00pm) on average, 721 trucks ply this route. Further divided; 187 CHNTC, 6 VOLVO, 162 DAF, 174 MAN, 19 SCANIA, 4 FAW, 45 SINOTRUCK, 2 VOLKSWAGEN-WORKER, 97 MERCEDES BENZ, 17 MACK, and last but not the least 8 IVECO trucks are quite familiar with this highway.

Importantly, they all are imported. From China (CHNTC and SINOTRUCK), then the rest comes from Europe and the USA. Read also: Ford Trucks' zero emissions plan to be unveiled at 2022 IAA

This is just Enugu, we haven't even talked about Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Anambra or even Ogun states, respectively. Zainab Ahmed, then minister of budget and national planning, stated as of 2015 that "Nigeria imports 60,000 trucks per annum, of which more than 85 percent are used vehicles and a heavy sum of N1.8 trillion is lost to truck imports." Clearly, this is a heavy load on our economy. Further down the drain, Nigeria is the chief executive importer of used cars in Africa, and our car imports stand at £3.03 billion.

More so, maybe as an afterthought I think you all need to know; a used MAN truck costs a minimum of N15,000,000 on jiji and Nigerians consume 74 million litres of fossil fuel per day for cars and trucks alone. So it is, from a stand point we as a nation needs to be retrospective. Is this the way we want to be importing?

Our indigenous Automotive Industrial Plan needs to be overhauled and revised.

Clearly, we need a rethink.

Allwell, a concerned university undergraduate, writes from Lagos