Public Utilities And Reckless Residents



Every time government hands over a project to a community or commissions one, the government always urges the community to take good care of such infrastructure and take care of it as if it belongs personally to them, but very few people take this advice seriously.

The vandalisation of government property has become a cancer that has eaten deep into the very fabric of our society. Nobody cares if streetlights are felled by reckless drivers, nobody cares if streets are dug up or if container bearing trucks damage Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, cables or poles.

The Federal Government and event state governments have laws that impose stiff fines on people who damage public utilities. These laws which saw the light of day during the General Muhammadu Buhari – Tunde Idiagbon military era described such offences as economic sabotage. But these laws seem to have been forgotten and nobody has done anything to correct this anomaly.

Daily, pipelines, which carry refined petroleum products and crude oil are vandalised with very few culprits brought to book, while aluminium railings on the side of roads and bridges are dismantled and carted away in the presence of citizens and even law enforcement officers.

The Civil Defence authorities have done their bit and the courts are trying but the average citizen seems to have developed an apathy towards anything or everything considered government owned. So nobody talks when road set-backs become mechanic workshops or when gutters become dumpsites.

The irresponsible attitude of the average Nigerian has cost us so much and every year government votes more money to build or maintain infrastructure, which these saboteurs damage or steal, and stiff penalties or imprisonment has not deterred them.

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Trailer drivers that park their vehicles on the road set-back along the expressway are no better than vandals who steal PHCN cables and plunge a community into darkness.

Those who connive with security agents to damage crude oil pipelines and steal the products are no better than those who steal money meant for infrastructure. And the beat goes on. Some are getting richer while the little infrastructure we have decay or are damaged due to the greed of very few Nigerians.

It is time to deal with economic saboteurs, who the courts often times, let off with a slap on the wrist. There is now a greater need for public enlightenment about how public utilities should not be treated.

The greater awareness on the need for Community Development Associations has been encouraging, and this needs to be encouraged. Citizens are now aware that they need to protect infrastructure in their communities as government alone cannot do it, but is this enough? Government needs to pay more attention to teaching the governed that nothing is owned by the government. Every property is owned by the people.

The infrastructure provided by government is for the people and they must be made to understand this so that this property can be protected.

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