The condition of the federal and state roads in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. A journey from Kaduna to Abuja; Enugu to Onisha; Ore to Benin; Port Harcourt to Yenagoa, is hellish. The roads are all death traps where a reasonable per centage of Nigerians lose their lives almost daily.
Apart from the incidents of death on these roads, some of them have become business points for kidnappers and other criminal elements, who take advantage of the poor state of these roads to molest and attack innocent travellers.
Since 1999, billions of naira have been expended on road maintenance, construction and reconstruction. The question now is: Where are the roads that this money was spent on?
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), between October 2017 and March 2018, 2,598 Nigerians died in road accidents.
Similarly, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in February this year, reported that about 682 persons lost their lives in road accidents while 3,953 others were injured in 1,107 road accidents in December 2018.
The data from both the NBS and FRSC is an indication that thousands of breadwinners; thousands of love ones have been lost on these roads and something drastic has to be done.
President Muhammadu Buhari in all his travels to various countries of the world he has visited since he became President, has always pleaded with businessmen and women from these countries to invest in Nigeria. But the truth remains that no businessman puts his money in a leaking pocket. Nigeria is a leaking pocket.
Investment in Nigeria presents high risk, even though the country has much of potential. The state of infrastructure in the country is nothing to write home about and demands declaration of a state of emergency, most especially on the country’s roads.
In every harvest season, agriculture produce worth billions are lost because of poor road network, which deny farmers access to the markets where their produce could be sold for the benefits of both the farmers and the country at large.
The country’s economy will continue to bleed if the challenges that surround the state of the roads are not tackled by both the federal and state governments.
The President, the governors and other officials of the government need to understand that the country is not only losing economically because of poor road network, but also losing thousands of lives of innocent citizens, who die almost daily for the crime of being Nigerians.
We urge the president and the state governors to as a matter of urgency ensure that there is adequate provision for funds to rehabilitate and reconstruct all the major roads in the country in the 2020 Budget Appropriation.
Also, members of the legislature must show commitment in ensuring that the issue of poor state of the nation’s roads is tackled, by supporting the executive in budget appropriation for roads in next year’s budget.
More so, we admonish members of the legislature not to play politics with the budget for the roads like they did on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project. President Buhari in consonance with his election campaign promise to focus on infrastructure, earmarked N40 billion in 2016 for the rehabilitation of the 127-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Expressway by Julius Berger and RCC.
Unfortunately, out of the total budget for the road, only N28 billion was released out of which N13 billion was to pay debt owed contractors. In 2017, the Federal Government again earmarked N31.5 billion for the project. But the National Assembly reduced it to N10 billion, which was not even enough to pay contractors that were being owed.
Furthermore, we advise President Buhari to see how he can take advantage of the Excess Crude Account in executing road projects in the country to put to an end to the perennial loss of lives and business opportunities the country has suffered for decades due to the condition of the roads.
Considering the quantity of agriculture produce being lost every year as a result of poor condition of the road network, it’s a pointer to the fact that if the roads are fixed by the governments, thousands, if not millions of jobs will be created directly and indirectly. That in itself, will help to reduce the poverty rate in the country, crime and improve the standard of living of the people. This is why the roads must be fixed and the time to fix them is now.