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Bad roads

(OPINION) Buhari, bring back our roads! by Tayo Ogunbiyi

Bad roads
Bad roads
Bad roads
Bad roads

Of late, passing through the Lagos-Ibadan expressway has become a very excruciating experience. For those who work in Lagos but reside along the axis, journeying daily along the route is akin to sojourning through hell. With recent development along the road, one does not really need any prophet to conclude that hell is not really far from us. The failed portion of the road between Magboro, Arepo and Wawa communities have been subjecting commuters to harrowing and traumatic experiences.
It is quite appalling that commuters and residents along the road have been thrown into unending trauma just because of the criminal neglect of concerned authorities. Ordinarily, travelling along these three communities to Lagos shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes. But now, commuters spend distressing hours on same trip. The situation becomes more miserable when one realizes that what is responsible for the agony being faced on the road, could at best be referred to as a routine issue. What makes commuters waste hours on the road could at best be addressed through creative palliative measures. In saner climes, such could have been routinely taken care of. But then, this is Nigeria and things do happen.
Of course, hell is not only on Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Hell is almost on every federal road in the country. Recently, through Channels Television, one came face to face with the ugly reality of some of the federal roads across the country. One of such roads, the Jebba-Kaduna road, could at best be fit for the Stone Age. It was in such a state of total collapse that journeying through it has become a dreadful experience for commuters. Some of the motorists who spoke on their experience on the road revealed that they spend hours on same spot by the bad portions of the road. A tanker driver disclosed that his truck has been submerged in the road for days.
Worst hit are, perhaps, federal roads in the south-eastern part of the country. A recent visit on inspection of the federal highway by members of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Works to Anambra State, brought to the fore the deplorable condition of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. The havoc being done to this road and other such federal roads in the region, especially by erosion, is quite appalling. In Owerri, the Imo State capital, the situation isn’t in anyway different as some of the federal roads have become death traps. Some of the roads include the Owerri-Umuahia road, the Okigwe–Owerri road, the Owerri-Elele road, Owerri-Aba road, Okpala-Igirita Road (Rivers State border) Ulakwo and the Umuohiagu-Obokwe-Alulu road, the Itu-Eziudo Road Ezinihitte and the Umuaka Amaigbo road.
In Kaduna State, the Kaduna-Jos road remains a nightmare for commuters and motorists. Same goes for the Bauchi/Ninigsi-Kano federal road which has reportedly claimed many lives. The Bauchi-Kano road, a strategic link road between Bauchi and other adjoining states to Kano has also remained largely impassable. In Osun State, the condition of federal roads equally remains pitiable. For instance, the deplorable portions of the Gbongan-Ipetumedu-Ile-Ife of the Ibadan-Ilesa road have continued to be horrendous for travelers along the route. Lots of vehicles have been damaged along the road, especially when driven by those who are unaware of the dreadful state of the road. Similarly, in Edo State, federal roads remain largely in pathetic state. Mostly affected are: the Benin–Auchi-Okene-Lokoja road, Benin-Abraka—Obiaruku road and Agbor-Ekpon–Uromi road and the Benin-Auchi-Okene-Lokoja road. Due to years of neglect and criminal abandonment by contractors, these roads have led many to an untimely grave.
Without a doubt, the awful state of federal roads across the country comes with dire consequences. For one, it leads to avoidable waste of human resources. No thanks to the disgraceful state of these roads, many of our compatriots have died prematurely in most gory circumstances. Recently, the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC disclosed that Nigeria loses three per cent of her GDP which translated to 17 per cent of current national reserves through road traffic crashes. It was equally revealed that the income loss from 2009 and road traffic crashes in Nigeria was more than GDP of over 20 individual African countries. No nation that is desirous of economic development and growth will handle with levity a situation where its vibrant work force and other citizens are wantonly wasted through otherwise avoidable occurrences.
Presently, our nation faces dire economic reality as a result of dwindling global price of crude oil which is the mainstay of our national economy. There have been talks on the need to diversify the economy by focusing on other sectors such as agriculture, Small Scale Enterprise, extractive industry among others. With the dearth of a well crafted intermodal transportation mode in the country, the road remains our major and most pragmatic means of transportation. With the sorry state of vital roads across the country, our desire for the diversification of the economy might be nothing but a mere hallucination.
To put the Nigerian economy on the lane to speedy recovery and growth, the Federal Government would have to immediately commit itself to a result-driven programme that would make federal roads passable and investors’ friendly. There must be a timeframe known and acceptable to Nigerians for the rehabilitation of these roads. While the Federal government is fine tuning efforts to redevelop and modernize the roads, one would like to implore the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, to as a matter of necessity, mobilise its men and resources to address the failed portions of the roads in order to avert imminent disaster, reduce travelling time as well as lessen every trouble associated with travelling on the roads.
In order to preserve life as well as put the Nigerian economy on the lane to speedy recovery and growth, authorities concerned would have to wake up and be alive to their responsibilities. This is the time to put an end to the pains and stress being experienced by commuters on some of the roads. It is enough that Nigerians are facing all sorts of economic and social issues. It is enough that there is little or no social security for our compatriots. It is enough that the commonwealth has, for long, been cornered by a few. Over the years, Nigerians have learned to live with all manners of anomalies. But then, will they be asking for too much if they demand that federal roads are fixed the government?
But then, to ensure that the government is alive to its responsibilities, all stakeholders must not relent in bringing attention to the outrageous state of public infrastructure in the country. Democracy can only thrive when the citizenry ensure that government is accountable to the people. The civil society, the media, religious bodies, traditional institutions and other key stakeholders in the polity must keep asking questions of the government. It will be suicidal for the people to go to sleep after electing a government. It is now that the government has been inaugurated that the real work begins. Democracy is endangered when the people tolerate and live with all manners of impunity. This is the time for everyone to rise and demand that the federal government bring back our roads!
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

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