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Sea ports of grammatical confusion! (II)

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cannot portsTODAY, we continue the analysis of the excerpt considered last week. The excerpt is here presented as sample 1.

Sample 1: “The people on daily basis pass through agonizing experiences, importers are in cacophony of tears for the delay of their cargoes on the sea with high demurrage cost…Investigations revealed that when the Apapa port started operation in 1970, it was only made for 30,000 cargoes, but as of today it harbours about 80,000 cargoes, yet the infrastructural facilities to make it run effectively is zero… There is no light in Apapa and the initial agreement was that the government will provide them electricity to do their business, but they were now running on generator on daily basis…To a first time visitor, who perhaps has experienced the hustling and bustling of Western ports in Lagos with the attendants traffic jam, he will probably wonder why there was a graveyard silence in the Eastern ports. When The Nation visited the Delta port in Warri, aside the good road network inside the empty ports, majority of the big warehouses which supposed to be a beehive of activities were under lock and key…The situation at Calabar was worst…Majority of the big warehouses that littered the port was locked…He lamented that poor parade of the sea on twenty four basis is a threat to any business in the area…the issue of security has chased away intending exporters who cannot risk their vessels to berth at there…He regretted that if everybody knew where the problems lies why is it difficult for the people of the area to take the bull by the horns…He explained that the contract for the repair of the Apapa road had been approved and work will commence on it in earnest, nothing (noting?) that clearing agents have been ordered to have a holding bay where their empty containers can be deposited. He added that the option of using Ikorodu terminal is underway and that importers can take their vessels there to offload…Though, The Nation found out that of the said dry ports established, Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Imo and Onitsha, only that of Kaduna is operational…Aside this he advocates for urgent dialogue with the militants.”(Nigeria’s Sea Ports of Confusion, The Nation, Sunday, 3 June, 2018)

Let’s examine this sentence which begins with the particle to: “To a first time visitor, who perhaps has experienced the hustling and bustling of Western ports in Lagos with the attendant traffic logjam, he will probably wonder why there was a graveyard silence in the Eastern ports.” This is an awkward structure and the awkwardness is as a result of the poor deployment of three elements of the structure: 1) the particle to that introduces the sentence 2) the noun phrase, “a first time visitor” 3) the pronoun he that begins the main clause in the second part of the sentence.

Please note that the second (“a first time visitor”) and the third (the pronoun he) elements are co-referential; that is, they refer to the same entity.

To have a better and more verbally economical sentence, we eliminate the first and the third elements identified above, so that the sentence reads: “A first time visitor, who perhaps has experienced the hustling and bustling of Western ports in Lagos with the attendant traffic logjam, will probably wonder why there was a graveyard silence in the Eastern ports.”

As an alternative, we retain the first and the second elements and eliminate the third (he), and then adjust the second part of the sentence appropriately: “To a first time visitor, who perhaps has experienced the hustling and bustling of Western ports in Lagos with the attendant traffic logjam, the graveyard silence encountered in the Eastern ports will likely be a major surprise.”

Next we examine the use of the word basis in the following contexts: “The people on daily basis pass through agonizing experiences…”; “…they were now running on generator on daily basis…”; “He lamented that poor parade of the sea on twenty four hour basis is a threat to any business in the area.” As we have noted a couple of times in this place, the singular form of the noun is basis; the plural form is bases. It is important to note that the word occurs in its singular form in each of the three contexts identified. That being the case, the word a is missing as a modifier to the noun basis in each of its occurrences.

Now read the following sentences: 1) The meeting holds on a regular basis. 2) The allowances are paid on a monthly basis. 3) The training sessions are held on an annual basis. 4) Workers are employed on a part-time basis. 5) Contrary to your view, there is a basis for rejecting the application. 6) Meetings are held on a monthly basis. 7) Children and adults should wash their teeth on a daily basis. 8) The police patrol the area on a weekly basis. 9) Methods and approaches are changed on a yearly basis. 10) Budgets are prepared and presented on an annual basis. 11) Guards are changed on a regular basis.

Note that in each of those sentences, the word basis is in its singular form. It is important to note the spelling. Note, in addition, that the word is modified by a/an. This modifier is obligatory.

Now compare those sentences with the following: 1) I have two bases for objecting to that proposal. 2) The philosophical bases for the argument are quite sound. 3) On both theological and moral bases, the idea is repugnant. 4) The chairman insisted that people must provide rational bases for their suggestions. 5) I am trying to examine the bases for the various arguments presented.

It is as ungrammatical to use the singular form (basis) without the indefinite article a pre-modifying it as it is to allow that word (a) to pre-modify the plural form (bases). You shouldn’t say: “She visits us on regular basis.”  Rather say: “She visits us on a regular basis.”  Do not say: “There are a sound bases for their arguments.” Rather say: “There are sound bases for their arguments.”

In addition to inserting the word a in the appropriate place, the expression, “twenty four hour” should be hyphenated to form a compound word: “on a twenty-four-hour basis.”

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