- State, communities cut off
- Economic problems worsen
- Commuters, farmers suffer
Last July 8, Jos Zonal Commanding Officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Mr Oludare Fadogba cried out over the deplorable state of roads within the zone, saying that the precarious condition of the roads posed serious challenge to commuters.
Jos Zone of the commission comprises Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa States.
The FRSC chief said, “Driving on Nigerian roads is no longer enjoyable and pleasurable as most of these roads have become what Fela Anikulapo described as suffering and smiling. The roads are no longer interesting for tourism, inter-state trade promotion and other activities that can improve the revenue profile of the nation because they have become death traps.”
In that zone of the FRSC operations alone, Fadogba said a recent audit report carried out by the commission showed that between Forest-Hawan Kibo and Mararaba Jama’a, a distance of 76 kilometres, there are 1,762 potholes; adding that “there are also 25 dangerous bends, five black spots and so many broken vehicles abandoned on the roads,” he said.
He thus called on the Federal Ministry of Works to ensure that the roads were urgently given a face lift as it would go a long way in reducing to the barest minimum the rate of deaths and loss of properties on the highways, even as he urged state governments within the zone to partner with the commission by supporting it with logistics to enable it carry out its duty of ensuring safety on the highways.
Not too long ago, Nigerian Institute of Highway Engineers, NIHE, called on the federal government to declare emergency in the road sector to attract private sector funding for roads development.
That call came on the heel of serious concerns expressed by leaders of the South-East geo-political zone over the state of federal roads in the area.
Rising from a closed door meeting they held inside Enugu State Government House, the leaders, including their governors, not only warned against awarding road contracts in South-East to incompetent contractors, but vowed to ensure the full implementation of the 2016 budget as signed to enable South-East people benefit in the area of roads, especially for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Enugu-Onitsha and Aba-Ikot Ekpena express roads that are death traps to motorists.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu spoke on their behalf.
Meaningless road network?
From available records, Nigeria’s total road network is about 193,200km with about 34,000km under federal control.
Another name for them is Trunk A roads while the remaining is called Trunks B and C roads. They are controlled by states and local government councils.
Experts in developmental economy posit that with such a vast network of Trunk A roads, trade, commerce and accompanying developments should ordinarily receive boost by reason of the effective communication that are eventually thrown up.
Alas, between the date of the FRSC alarm in Jos and press time, the state of the roads have worsened with some states and communities almost cut off from other sections of the country, and farmers, commuters among others suffering more economic hardship.
Today, from the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in the South-West to the East West Road in the South-South and the Abuja-Kaduna route in the north, the menace of bad roads is a common thread that affects every region of Nigeria.
Whereas this geo-political zone can be largely described as the nation’s honey pot, roads connecting the states, including the abandoned East-West bye-pass, are nothing to write home about.
Akwa Ibom State, for instance, is one of the states that have been practically cut off from surrounding states. Apart from its opening to the sea via the Eket axis, the Trunk A road connecting the state to Umuahia in Abia State is cut off, no thanks to ravaging erosion. The same is the case with the highway that connects the oil-producing state to Cross River State via the Itam Itu axis.
The same sad story goes for the Bayelsa-Delta state major link road with dangerous potholes signposting the abandonment that has been visited on the important highway.
Still on Bayelsa State, a cross-section of road users have expressed worry over the state of federal roads in the state.
Charles Okonmah, an engineer and controller, Federal Ministry of Works in Bayelsa, said there are only three federal roads in the state.
He said the three roads include Mbiama-Yenagoa, Yenagwe-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe roads and part of the East-West Road that links up the Niger-Delta states.
“I must tell you that among the 36 states of the federation, Bayelsa has the least kilometres of federal road and some of these roads are deplorable while some are under-construction.
“Basically, we have three federal roads here in Bayelsa, though the East-West Road, from Kim to Mbiama, has been given to the Niger Delta Ministry. In details, from Mbiama junction, Igbogene-Yenagoa road is about 20 kilometres while Yenagwe-Okaki-Kono-Nembe-Brass road has a total length of over 100 kilometres.
“Out of the kilometre stretch on Yenagwe-Okaki-Kono-Nembe-Brass road, the only area that work is currently going on is between Yenagwe and Kolo axis. That particular road is a virgin project and is about 33.5 kilometres; it was awarded in May 2009 and has not been completed; the cost of that road is over N13 billion.”
The Port Harcourt-Owerri highway, as important as it is to the nation’s economy, remains a major death trap with stretches of marshy kilometres of road rendering it dangerous for both human and vehicular movements.
One commuter who travelled that highway last weekend, Mrs. Happiness Mordi narrated her story to Nigerian Pilot: “Last Sunday, I was returning to Abuja from Port Harcourt through Owerri in RTC Sienna bus. Immediately we left Port Harcourt and entered the highway, the journey which was supposed to take not less than one hour if the road was good took us close to three hours. Even the convoy of Governor Wike that was behind us had to stop at a point as the road was just too bad, especially in the middle of the heavy rainfall.”
A recent survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, revealed that most of the roads across the 36 states of the federation were un-passable due to years of neglect.
A cross section of road users who spoke to NAN in separate interviews decried the situation and called on the authorities to declare an emergency on the road sector nationwide.
The survey had Dr Bassey Umoh, chairman of the South-South Peoples Assembly, describing the Calabar-Akpabuyo-Ikang road as very dangerous and a death-trap.
“The road is becoming worse by the day. It is now a death-trap. FERMA said they would do something but for how long? As I talk to you now, nothing has been done. It is a shame that this road that links Nigeria with Cameroun should be in this kind of deplorable state and nothing is being done about it.
“The road is becoming worse by the day. It is now a death-trap. FERMA said they would do something but for how long, as I talk to you now, nothing has been done. It is a shame that this road that links Nigeria with Cameroun should be in this kind of deplorable state and nothing is being done about it.
“The economy of the people is suffering. The people can no longer convey their agricultural produce to Calabar Urban because of the poor state of this road,” Umoh said.
The same problem, Nigerian Pilot noticed, prevails on the Warri-Ughelli-Bayelsa link road.
For a major highway that connects the federal capital city, the Abuja-Lokoja-Okene-Auchi-Benin highway is in a sorry state as motorists take risks of varying descriptions to maneuver their way to and from the federal capital city.
On this major highway, there is just no portion that can be said to be manageable. But it is instructive to state that the usual traffic gridlock that relevant authority announced had been reduced by creating a bye-pass that connects Okene from the Lokoja approach has not solved any problem, as the earth road complicated by ravaging gully erosion has rendered the relief a very temporary one that has since vanished.
Then at the Jattu axis in the Auchi approach, between Okpella and Iyamho, motorists now navigate farmlands and private properties to reconnect the federal highway at the popular Jattu junction. The same goes for Ewu junction in Esan Central Local Government Area, where it is now more difficult for South-East-bound vehicles to drive into the Uromi approach than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.
Motorists heading from Abuja to Benin before long are held down by very bad portions of the highway around Ekpoma, where they just have to divert through Ujoelen junction to cut off the expansive but dangerous portions of the link road starting from the popular Mousco filling station.
Then about three-kilometre stretch of bad portion of the highway welcomes you to Benin, Edo State capital.
South West roads
A regular traveller on the Lagos-Benin highway and trader, Mr. Justin Dickson told Nigerian Pilot that the journey from Lagos to Warri, which ought to take him maximum of six hours, saw him arriving his destination eight hours after takeoff, no thanks to the bad road, especially around Redeemed Camp stretch along Lagos – Ibadan section where flood poured into the major road from the Mountain of Fire Church area. The resultant traffic gridlock, he said, largely accounted for the delay.
“If we had known we would have taken the Lekki expressway out of Lagos,” she retorted.
Still on South-West roads, sections of the Oyo-Iseyin, Ago-Are-Saki road, Ibadan-Oyo New Road and the Ibadan-Ife road as well as the Ogbomoso-Igbeti road, Ibadan-Bakatari Road –Ijebu Ode border and also Oyo-Ogbomoso Old Road remain death traps. Besides, the worrisome dilapidation of the Lagos-Ibadan highway is not about to be over as Julius Berger and RCC construction firms working on the roads were yet to make appreciable progress there.
In Akure, motorists also decried the condition of roads in the state.
They appealed to the federal government to make the Akure-Owo-Akoko and Akure- Ore-Okitipupa-Igbokoda roads dual carriage ways.
The story of federal roads inside Lagos where the state government is doing much on its roads is not different. Of particular note is the Apapa – Port road where haulage vehicles now find it difficult to access the all-important wharf for diverse businesses.
Roads in the north
The three geo-political zones of the north also are not enjoying any better comfort as per the state of the roads there.
In Gombe, investigations revealed that a substantial stretch of the 535kms of federal roads spread across the state was in bad shape. They include the Gombe-Biu road, Gombe-Yola road and Gombe-Potiskum roads.
Alhaji Ibrahim Bala, chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in the state, urged the federal government to step up effort at rehabilitating the roads to ease transportation of goods and services and reduce accidents.
The situation is also not significantly different in Zamfara as some of the federal and state-owned roads in the state are also un-passable.
For example, a cross section of commercial drivers who spoke to NAN in Gusau listed Mafara- Bakura, Maru – Mayanchi, Tsafe – Zaria, Gusau- Kano as some of the bad roads in dire need of urgent repairs in the state.
In an interview with NAN in Birnin Kebbi, Mr Ufot Imoh, an official of Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, in the state, attributed the delay in the maintenance of the over 864,52 kilometres of federal roads in the state to the absence of functional road maintenance equipment and paucity of funds.
Imoh said that 309 kilometres of the federal roads in the state were in bad shape with the Jega-Koko-Yauri federal road now a death trap for motorists.
In Sokoto State, the rehabilitation of failed sections of federal and state-owned roads by FERMA is progressing steadily.
The Jebba-Ilorin road near Budo Amon in Moro LGA of Kwara State is one other eye-sore that has become nightmare to motorists plying that highway.