The roads were designed in the colonial times to be broad and impressive. Most of the traffic in those days consisted of official cars tearing down those vast avenues at full speed, as if no one else existed. Even in the 1980’s, when quite a few ordinary people had acquired cars, the streets still looked empty. A traffic jam seemed an unimaginable thing. Since the 20th century, every fool in
When you add the Nigerian weather to this mix, the result can be total paralysis. During several big blizzards last month, some traffic jams lasted for 16 hours or more. I know a man who left his Trans Amadi (
Poorly maintained roads in
There have been cases when the heads of road-building projects deliberately overlooked the fact that deadlines are not met or that the necessary repairs are not completed or that safety standards are not met or that lane markings are not painted. We spend around 1 billion naira a year [$35 million] alone on road project. But the quality reflects the fact that we use whatever’s cheapest and so, after two months, the road signs have been smeared all over the road or they are simply no longer visible.
Of recent the Lagos-Benin road has witnessed some poor-boy jobs being done by a construction company to make the road at least passable now that the dry season is approaching. For a road that breaks down every year due to heavy traffic; for a road that is the main link to Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states, the continuing neglect of this vital artery can no longer be excused. In view of the rather unstable nature of the subsoil between
Another problem besetting Nigerian roads is that they are not designed for expansion. As the volume of traffic increases, road construction should be seen to be keeping pace accordingly. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway, for instance, can do with further expansion. Corporate organisations should also assist in managing our roads as part of their social responsibility. For instance, right in front of Ewekoro cement factory, the road is hardly passable.
Government personnel remains the country’s most popular status in many decades, but I have often heard drivers cursing them furiously as they wait at roadside for his cortege to sweep past. If I were them, I’d worry about things like that.
The current annual budget for road repair and upkeep is due to double and supervised to work. More importantly, oversight over how those funds are spent should be assigned to independent monitoring agencies instead of to the contractors responsible for the work — as is currently the case. Road builders should be obliged to give a five-year guarantee on their work. For the future, the nation should plan to build a network of new roads to ease congestion and ensure revenue for their upkeep. Since decaying infrastructure is one of the deficiencies that the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) seeks to address, it became imperative the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) should desist from patching the 32,000-kilometre federal roads network, and initiated a more substantial rehabilitation road maintenance method.
Good roads are a consequence of a normal democracy and the respect for human rights, and of the government’s responsibility towards society. Those are basic preconditions. As soon as we start to fulfill these criteria and start moving forward on these points, good roads will appear. It simply never happens that a corrupt, thieving government suddenly starts to deliver good roads, wonderful housing, and quality infrastructures. That just doesn’t happen.
The lack of maintenance of roads in