NIGERIAN ROADS: A TALE OF WOES
Friday, 17 July 2020
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces
Aso Rock Villa, 3 Arms Zone
Garki – Abuja
Federal Republic of Nigeria
NIGERIAN ROADS: A TALE OF WOES
Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was established by Act No.7 of 2002 enacted by the National Assembly and assented to by President Olusegun Obasanjo. With this Act establishing the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency and for matters connected herewith, FERMA became Nigeria’s first institutional mechanism for monitoring and maintaining all Federal roads in the country. First Governing Board of FERMA chaired by Engr. Guy Otobo was inaugurated by the then Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih on 27th January 2003.
The Mission of the agency is to efficiently and effectively monitor and administer road maintenance with the objective of keeping all federal roads in good and safe conditions while the Vision is to become the most efficient road maintenance management organization that will enhance the economic well-being and interest of Nigerians.
From the foregoing, it can be observed that the agency has not lived up to expectation going by the present state of roads in the country. Most of the federal roads that dotted the length and breadth of the country are crying for attention.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed once disclosed that most of the bad roads in Nigeria belong to the states. The minister argued that most bad roads in the country were within the jurisdiction of states. She made this statement after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that held on the 13th of November, 2019 in Abuja.
She went further to state that the Federal Ministry of Works was the biggest beneficiaries of funding in the 2019 budget as it was adequately reimbursed for the purpose of roads rehabilitation in the country.
Ahmed acknowledged that the government had not done enough to rehabilitate roads all over the country but still attributed most of the bad roads in the country to the states.
In the same vein, and contrary to general reports making the rounds that Nigerian roads are terrible and not motorable, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola was also reported as saying that Nigerian roads are not as bad as people think.
Fashola made this statement late last year after one of the Federal Executive Council meetings. He dismissed reports on the poor state of the country’s roads as exaggerated. In his words “The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad”, he had told State House correspondents.
We found this statement by the honourable minister as a clear indication that some of those occupying public offices are not in tune with the terrible realities of their fellow citizens’ daily experience.
Despite the claims made by the Ministers, ordinary Nigerians plying the roads know the true situation of our roads. Most of the roads are now death traps. It is worrisome that in addition to the adverse effects of the poor state of the roads, kidnapping and armed robberies, loss of vital man-hours, loss of lives and merchandise and enormous damage to vehicles on a daily basis are recorded, thus adversely affecting the growth of the developing economy like Nigeria’s.
For example, the current state of the Lagos – Sango Ota – Abeokuta express way that links Lagos and Ogun state is appalling and an eye sore as virtually all sections of the road has completely broken down. Major bus stops like Obadeyi, Kola, Salolo, Moshalashi, Alakuko, Toll-Gate, Joju among others are characterized by crater-sized potholes and gullies resulting in commuters and motorists spending long hours in traffic, accidents and damage to health and vehicles which is immeasurable in monetary terms and health costs. Sometimes, petrol tankers and container trucks have fallen at bad portions of the road, causing havoc to people.
One can only wonder the essence, importance or relevance of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), if federal roads under their direct supervision can deteriorate to such an inhuman state without any intervention to mitigate the suffering of the commuting public. More annoying is the fact that the Ministry of Works and Housing who happens to be the supervising ministry of FERMA is maintaining an unholy silence. Is it that the Ministry is unconcerned?
Though we are aware of the fact that the Lagos Sango Abeokuta express road is a federal road, we believe that the Governors of Lagos state Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Ogun state counterpart, Dr. Prince Dapo Abiodun can harmoniously and as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the suffering commuters in both states, whose manhour, lives and livelihood is being jeopardized by the unmotorable state of the Lagos Sango Ota Abeokuta express road, by directing their respective states ministries of works and roads intervention agencies to urgently provide palliatives to the road.
Apart from the federal roads, the roads that are within the purview of the states are not faring better. In fact, state-owned roads are just as horrible as the stretches of roads controlled by the federal government. In Lagos state, from the expressways to the inner streets, it is a tale of complete abandonment and neglect. The dividends of democracy in terms of infrastructure development promised to be delivered to the electorates by the politicians are just nowhere to be found.
Knowing how Lagosians crave good roads, the Governor, a day after his inauguration, signed an executive order, directing the state Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to run at least two shifts and work till 11p.m and the state Public Works Corporation to commence patching and rehabilitation of bad roads to address the perennial problem of traffic in the state. Till date, Lagosians are still waiting for this order to be carried out in some areas.
From the mainland to the Island, particularly, the densely populated areas of Ikeja (like Ipodo Street), Coker-Aguda (Akin Olowolagba Street), Somolu (Haastrup Ajimoke Street off Apata Road), Mushin-Odi-Olowo (Agege Motor Road before Olosa bus stop, Idioro), Ikorodu (Church Street, Odogunyan, Frontage of Ikorodu West LCDA, Odonla Road, Ojuemuren Street Odogunyan, Sagamu Road), Yaba (Herbert Macauly by Birrel Avenue, Kadara Street, Oyingbo, Ladipo Street off Bornu way) Lagos Island (Idumagbo Avenue, Oroyinyin Street off Adeniji Road) the story is the same as one is faced with the embarrassing sight of the decrepit roads that dots Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan city despite the high internal revenue generated by the government.
So bad are the roads in Lagos that The Economist Intelligence Unit and World Bank in their 2018 Global Liveability Index, ranked the state as the third worst city for humans to live in the world. The state was ranked 138 out of the 140 cities considered for the ranking. This, however, was a slight improvement from the 2017 ranking, where the country was ranked 139th out of 140 cities on the index. According to the ranking, Lagos only outperformed Dhaka in Bangladesh and Damascus in war-torn Syria. Out of an overall score of 100, Lagos was rated 38.5 points. The 2019 least liveable list has 10 cities with five from Africa. Lagos, Nigeria tops the list for the continent. This is Lagos’ third consecutive time as the worst liveable city in Africa.
Similarly, Ogun State that happens to be a close neighbour to Lagos is fast becoming a State identifiable by its bad roads. From Toyin to Giwa, Oke-Aro, Lambe, Matogun, Isaashi, Akute, Ajuwon, Alagbole, Agbado to Agbara, Lusada and all other major roads in that axis where some major factories are located, the sad reality is the same.
Recently, it was reported that the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun was fully aware of the challenges occasioned by the deplorable condition of Sango-Agbado Expressway and other roads. The statement was credited to the Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, who inspected the abandoned project. This followed his earlier inspection of the Ojodu-Abiodun-Denro Ishasi-Akute and Oke Aro-Lambe-Matogun roads some weeks back, as engineers from the ministry visited the area to further assess the roads.
Akinsanya, who said it is worthy of note that the construction of the 32km Sango-Agbado road was started by the immediate past administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, decried how the project was left unattended to months before the end of Amosun’s administration.
He said: “The Prince Dapo Abiodun-led Administration is now engaging contractors, as the government evaluates how to rescope, accelerate and get the contractors back to site towards completing the road for use by the people”.
The key to economic growth and development in any nation is the provision of basic infrastructure such as good road network. We believe the rehabilitation and completion of the various roads will revive economic activities in the axis while ensuring the safety of persons, goods and vehicles.
In addition, we feel the pains and agony being encountered by the commuting people on our roads who have had to endure both the physical and psychological trauma of traffic gridlock all over the state caused by the poor condition of roads.
Your Excellency, the pains and agony commuters are enduring on our roads on a daily basis can only be mitigated by the commitment of both the federal and state governments of the states concerned to deliver dividends of democracy to the people through reconstruction, rehabilitation and completion of various road projects that litter the various parts of the states in particular and the country in general. There is an urgent need for both the Federal and the State Governments to redouble their efforts and commitments to addressing the hardship being faced by road users across the country. Alternative means of transportation like the rail and the waterways should also be improved upon to reduce the pressure n our roads.
Therefore, we are calling on your office to immediately swing into action by directing and mobilizing the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to provide palliative measures for temporary relief pending the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the federal roads in Lagos state in particular and other states in general.
Yours in the service of Humanity,