In People who can’t keep toilets clean, Kelechi Deca explores how workers’ attitude to simple tasks impacts national efficiency and productivity.

Writing on The Parable of the Shower Head, the great Pius Adesanmi made a remark that has stuck with me for a decade, because I’ve been trying to prove him wrong to no avail. He wrote that “Nigeria will never allow you to bear a false witness of efficiency against her. Nigeria will never allow you to accuse her wrongly of getting at least one thing right all the time”.

About seven years ago, I wrote somewhere that any country that cannot train hotel room cleaners that would make a bed better than Mexican women, or compete with Philippino maids cannot run a successful hospitality industry. Everything is connected to everything.

Prof. Pius Adesanmi read it and came inbox. And we chatted on connecting the dots of development for over 30 minutes. He cured my ignorance on some issues and made me come out better. The day I visited Federal Ministry of Science & Technology to pick a file and they couldn’t upload it because there was no internet access was the day I began to give up.

Few days ago, Teju Olaoye wrote that if you relocate Nigerians to Germany and bring Germans to Nigeria, that in 20 years, Nigeria would resemble Germany while Germany would look like the Nigeria of today. I think Teju is still blindly patriotic to be that generous (20 years). I wrote there that it won’t take up to 5 years. And some people were angry with me.

I sensed that either they have not lived in advanced societies or they’re just ” Arise o compatriots.” To maintain the level of systems that keep these societies working 24/7 demands a 24/7 attention. That’s why if you notice a burnt filament on a street light on your way to work, before you get to work, it has been fixed. It looks simple, but there’s a complex working system behind such efficiency.

Walking around the IMF headquarters post Covid, I took note of how the entire building readjusted to touchless technologies, from the toilets to the doors, everything has sensors that respond to the wave of the hand.

A people who cannot maintain a clean toilet in their public places cannot maintain 4th tier infrastructure not to talk of running airlines. Have you asked yourself why foreign airlines that operate in Nigeria keep to schedule up to last seconds inspite of our anyhowness, yet Nigerian airlines cannot?

You land at MMIA Lagos and what do you find? No air-conditioning. The lightening in the gate is bad. Escalators that are about two meters long are not working and, when they do, they work at speeds that are unhealthy. Just escalators.

Keep in mind that human beings built the world’s first underground rail system in London in 1863. It is the world’s second longest metro system at 402 kilometres; the longest metro system is the Shanghai Metro in China at 434 kilometers long. The Shanghai metro also incorporates the world’s only tourist tunnel, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, which travels under the city’s Huangpu River between East Nanjing Road station and Pudong station. It is a sight you should see before you die because the 647 meter long tunnel is encased in a glass capsule which houses a system of strobe lighting which throws vivid, psychedelic patterns upon the tunnel walls.

People who can’t keep toilets clean should be informed that the New York City Subway has 422 stations making it the metro with the largest stations. And the US alone has subway systems in 32 cities.

Talking about escalators and lack of it, it may be of interest to know that the world’s deepest metro system is the Pyongyang Metro in North Korea which is 110 meters deep. But the world’s deepest metro, underground station is the Arsenalna Station on the Kiev Metro in Ukraine, at 107 meters deep.

To appreciate how deep, the depth is higher than the World Trade Centre towers at Abuja, and the Cocoa House Ibadan. If you put either the UBA or Union Bank towers inside, these metro stations will swallow them up. But their escalators work

THE metro system with the longest, single escalator in the world is situated at the Park Pobedy Station on the Moscow Metro in Russia which is 126.8 meters long and takes two minutes forty seconds to ride.

However the longest escalator on any metro system, which is in fact made up of two escalators one above the other, is situated at the Wheaton Street Station on the Washington D.C Subway in the U.S.A, The two escalators are both seventy meters long, have a vertical rise of thirty meters and take three minutes to ride.

Even for keeping a very old metro system working efficiently, the UN designated the Budapest Metro as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was opened in 1896 making it the second oldest system in the world.

THE world’s busiest metro system, in terms of passenger traffic, is Tokyo’s Toei Subway with eight million passengers a day, or 3.16 billion a year. Can you wrap your head around that? Human beings like us.

Only four rapid transit metro systems in the world run 24/7 round the clock service, and they are all located in the US; the New York City Subway, the Blue and Red Lines of the Chicago L system, Philidelphia’s PATCO System and the New York City to New Jersey PATH – Port Authority Trans Hudson

But the world’s longest metro system tunnel is 60.4 km, it is in Guangzhou China, located between the Airport South Station and Panyu Square Station. That’s about as long as CMS to Ajara in Badagry, underground o.

Then talk about speeding metro. The Shanghai Maglev which runs by way of magnetic levitation on the Longyang Road to Pudong International Airport line of the Shanghai Metro in China is out of this world. First time I saw it, I couldn’t fix my eyes on it because it was too fast for my eyes to follow. It reaches speeds of up to 501 km/h but normally operates at speeds of around 431 km/h.

To imagine that the Lagos-Ibadan train can do 180km/h but is doing 80km/h because our people carelessly saunter across railway tracks. Even within Lagos, trains run at 40km/h because traders use the rail tracks as open markets. The markets come to life when train is not coming, but as soon as they hear the horn, bedlam ensues. Why not fence off the tracks to stop incursions? By reducing speed, the train neither gets to its destination on time nor fulfills its overall purpose.

Are these the people Teju said can live in Germany? People who don’t even know a toilet should be flushed after using… A society where people do not feel revulsion at the sight of faeces inside a toilet bowl cannot think about space technology. Minds that have been exposed to sh*t for too long can’t handle the mathematical equations of higher technology.

Kelechi Deca

Kelechi, a well travelled journalist and development communication strategist, is the group editor of The African Economy magazine. More by Kelechi Deca