26th November, 2015
It is heartwarming to hear that President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that most of the Nigerian roads were death traps and that they deserved urgent attention of the government. Buhari made this known Wednesday at a presidential dinner organised in honour of senators at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The fact that the President knows about the deplorable state of the roads across the country and even emphatically said the roads were dead is an indication that he is aware of the urgency of the situation and the need to reduce the carnage on the roads. We believe the Works, Power and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola is equally aware of the enormity of the task at hand and has what it takes to fix it.
Those who travel between Lagos and Ibadan, Kaduna and Jebba, Calabar and Itu, Aba and Ikot Ekpene, Calabar and Ogoja, Onitsha and Enugu and motorists as well as travellers in the Southeast and Southsouth zones of the country generally have harrowing tales to tell about the state of roads in these parts. Besides being trapped for several hours or days on a journey that should last some minutes if the roads were in good condition, motorists and commuters sometimes lose their lives on these abandoned roads due to avoidable accidents.
Most of the affected roads were constructed in the 70s and have not been maintained all these decades, thereby leading to their total collapse. Over dependence on road transportation also led to the reduction in their lifespan and eventual collapse. In the Southeast, erosion also wreaks havoc on federal roads, sometimes splitting roads into two and effectively cutting off communities from other parts of the states. Heavy trucks also damage the roads.
The poor state of roads has taken its toll on economic activities across the country. The challenge therefore is to immediately embark on palliatives measures pending when a permanent solution would be carried out on the roads. The private sector could be involved in the reconstruction of most of the roads that are now too narrow for the volume of traffic they now accommodate. The reconstructed roads could be tolled for a number of years to recoup the investment. Motorists would be willing to pay a token as tolls on the roads rather than lose their lives or be subjected to the current trauma they now face on federal highways.