Transport And Road Transport In Commerce
TRANSPORT – This vital service ensures the movement of goods between producers and, eventually, to the final consumers wherever they may be. West African countries produce a wide variety of raw materials, agricultural products and an increasing quantity of manufactured goods. Nigeria is especially well served by the variety and extent of its means of transport.
In view of its size and diversity in terms of vegetation and relief, its internal transport has probably done more than almost anything else to promote, or where inadequate, restrict economic development and prosperity. Trade between West African nations and with the rest of the world is of growing importance and so there must be efficient means to transport goods to and from other countries.
The merits of each form of transport should be judged according to the following criteria;
Speed – The longer the time goods are in transit the greater ti delay before they can be sold and the owner or producer receives his money to cover his costs. Speed is particularly important for perishable and expensive items since the former may go bad before being sold and the latter involves a lot of the producer’s capital being tied up in unsold goods.
Cost – The final selling price of goods is influenced by transport costs. A basic business aim is to keep costs as low as possible.
Carrying capacity – Bulk transport is a basic requirement for trade in West Africa and with overseas trading partners.
The extent of routes – The number of routes, their length and how near they pass to potential customers are important considerations.
Ability to integrate with other transport systems – Goods often have to be moved from one system to another, for example from ships to trains to lorries. Transshipment of goods ought to be done quickly and cheaply. The use of containers is probably the best example of this.
All of Nigeria’s towns and villages are linked by some sort of road he country has over 21,000 kilometers of surfaced roads out of a total of some 72.000 kilometers of all-weather roads. The densest road networks are in the palm oil and cocoa belts and the tin fields and around Kano, Katsina, and Lagos. Some roads extend into Nigeria’s neighbors, thus facilitating trade with them. Generally, the country’s roads are complementary rather than competitive with its railway system. In other words, they act as a tender system taking goods to and from railway depots for local collection and delivery.
Advantages of road transport
1. Roads extend to every factory, farm, port, warehouse and shop. Therefore they provide a door-to-door service without the need for transshipment. Most goods traffic has to start and finish its journey by road.
2. Road haulage is very flexible. It can meet exact customer requirements by collecting goods at a specified time and delivering them to precisely where required.
3. It can carry small, part loads economically and even outsize objects such as machinery. Additionally, it handles all types of freight in purpose-built trucks and trailers.
4. It is speedier than river and coastal shipping, and even railways over short distances because of the lack of the need for transshipment.
5. Road haulers are not directly responsible for the cost of providing and maintaining the roads, whereas the railways must cover all costs including track and equipment.
Disadvantages of road transport
1. Large quantities of bulk loads, such as oil, agricultural produce and consumer goods, cannot be carried without the use of excessive numbers of lorries.
2. Many roads are not passable during all seasons of the year Flooding is a very real problem. On many routes, there are delays to be faced at ferry crossings.
To conclude, the roads can provide an essential door-to-door service, but cannot compete with rail for all-season economic transit of large, low-value loads on long journeys.