Highway Of Death


The Ogun State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, has just released a chilling data on accidents on the busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway. According to the statistics, between January 2009 and July 2011, over 833 people have died on the road while 6,103 have been injured in 2,264 accidents on that road.

Between January and July this year alone, 217 travellers lost their lives in 559 accidents, while 1,434 were injured. The frequent accidents on the road are due largely to the neglect of the road by the Federal Government. This is similar to the situation on other federal highways in the Southsouth and Southwest geopolitical zones of the country. When we add up this statistics to that of other federal highways the death toll arising from accidents across the country could be better imagined.

When the Lagos-Ibadan expressway was concessioned to Bi-Courtney Highway Services Ltd to expand and rehabilitate it by the Federal Government some years ago, Nigerians who travel on that road heaved a sigh of relief that carnage on the road will be reduced. Years after, nothing tangible has happened on the road while many lives are lost daily.

Travellers on the 120 kilometre road that was constructed in the 70s are subjected to harrowing experience owing to the deplorable condition of the road. The criminal neglect of the road which is the major link to the eastern and northern states of the federation is an indication that the nation’s leaders don’t care about the plight of the common people.

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It remains to be seen if the 60-day Ultimatum the new Works Minister, Mike Onolememen, gave to Bi-Courtney to begin full construction work on the road, will achieve any meaningful result. There had been such empty rhetorics and grandstanding by works ministers in the past and the road remained the way it is.

Another major highway that has become a death trap is the Ore-Benin expressway. Every year, travellers are subjected to harrowing experience on that axis of the road.Sometimes they are stranded for several hours on the bad portion of the road. All the palliative measures in the past have not yielded any positive result. Because of the shoddy job done by construction companies that handle the rehabilitation projects, rains usually wash everything away. And the road continues to deteriorate every rainy season and claims many lives due to road accidents. When we add this to the activities of armed robbers on the highways which are overgrown with weeds and are not lit at night, then they fit the perfect description of being highways of death.

The Fedral Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, has not been equal to the task of maintaining federal highways, especially in the Southwest, Southsouth and Southeast geopolitical zones. The agency has outlived its usefulness and should be scrapped. It is just a conduit pipe. A government/private sector partnership will be the best option for Nigerians to have good, motorable roads. Nigerians won’t mind paying a token at toll gates just to have the best of roads that will enable them travel smoothly to their destinations rather than risk their lives on the death traps that are all over the country.

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