Haulage Stakeholders Urge Buhari’s Govt to Fix Nigeria’s Bad Roads
As Nigeria’s president-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) prepares to assume office for a four-year term; stakeholders in the nation’s haulage industry have called on him to invest vigorously in fixing the country’s deplorable road condition.
IT is alarming that for many years in Nigeria, successive governments have not been able the fix the problems of the deplorable condition of most of the roads in the country. Yet, road accidents are killing and maiming hundreds of Nigerians monthly due to bad roads.
For people in business, especially those in road haulage business, it has been more traumatic. Many investors in the sector have lost workers to terrible road accidents and investments worth billions of naira. Transporters are lamenting the loss of revenue. Their revenue is down by 50% and unless the roads are repaired, the transporters may well abandon their trade.
While past governments may have made some investments in road constructions and maintenance, it is obvious that a lot of efforts in road construction are still being expected from the government, especially the incoming government.
Against this backdrop, the Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Haulage Limited, Mr. Akinola Ososanya, urged the President-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to fix the bad roads across the country. He said Nigerian roads should have been much better. According to him, bad roads can affect the lifespan of trucks, which has always been the case. He said an average truck can do over a million kilometres but in Nigeria after about 300km to 500km, plying the Benin-Ore Expressway, for example, the truck may pack up because when it goes into ditches, the shock absorbers and the fenders may just fall apart.
Another stakeholder in the sector, Mr Olugbenga Adeniyi, managing director of Dove Shipping & Logistics Services Ltd, said the effort of the governments in fixing the bad roads have not been enough as the roads get spoilt as soon as repair works were being carried out on them. He condemned the poor condition of the road across the country. He said, ‘‘I can tell you that the roads are fairly better in the South Western part of the country. In North Central, North East and North West part of the country, the roads are really in very bad shape especially in places like Ilorin-Jeba- Mokwa. The roads are narrow and terribly bad. These has been the roads we have been using since 1950s but government is not doing much on these roads.’’
Bad roads, accidents and Nigerian drivers
Another stakeholder in the nation’s haulage sector who pleaded anonymity has said the condition of Nigerian roads should be on the urgent list for the incoming president to tackle headlong. He said across the length and breadth of the country, it is not only that the expressways are very bad, most of the roads in the cities, be it in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, or Bauchi are death traps. “The road from Jebba to Ilorin, a distance of about 100km usually takes a whole day for truck drivers to cover. Port Harcourt-Eleme Junction, a distance of about 15km takes over five hours, and the same goes for Okigwe-Umuahia road, as well as a few others across the country.”
Haulage & Logistics Magazine highlights the top Nigeria’s bad roads which most stakeholders in the haulage sector would like the incoming government to fix urgently.
A regular traveller to the Southeastern Nigeria via Benin-Ore-Shagamu Road would attest to the fact that a journey through the road is a Calvary trip. The road to Benin is so bad that vehicles using that road invariably retire to a mechanics workshop at the end of every journey. Transporters are hurting and are bewildered that despite their payment of all road taxes to the Federal Government and the various rates to the state and local governments, little is being done to repair the roads upon which their livelihood depends. Armed robbers are a constant threat particularly at night.
An analyst once observed that: “If there is any road in the country that has portrayed successive governments in the country in bad light as failed governments in the last two decades, it is the Lagos-Sagamu –Ore –Benin road.”
Abuja-Lokoja –Okene Road
Many have called for the quick completion of the dualisation of the road to ease vehicular movement said. “It was unimaginable the kind of pains the good people of Nigeria are subjected to on this road at every festive periods because of traffic congestion. This is why I think the Federal Government has to see to it that this road is completed in due course. It will equally go a long way in reducing the rate of accidents along the route which has claimed many lives because of its deplorable condition,” said a truck driver.
The 120-kilometre highway, which was built in 1974, is the only major road that links Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, with other parts of the country, making it the busiest.
The ever-busy Enugu Port Harcourt expressway has always been a death trap for commuters.
Kaduna-Abuja the highway that links most states in the north boasts of over 400 pot holes. In fact, the state of the road bears no image of a channel that links the Federal Capital Territory.
Going to Enugu through Onitsha an average traveler would tell you is another hell on earth. The Enugu and Onitsha axis was the economic stronghold of the old Eastern Region. The road is now a shadow of its old self -no thanks to the deplorable state of the highway linking Enugu, Awka and Onitsha.
Travelling on the road Enugu-Onitsha Expressway built in the 70s by the Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has become a nightmare, with motorists often abandoning the highway to reroute their trips through the old road from Udi to Awka. The contractors hired to fix the road abandoned it. They have since withdrawn their equipment and barricaded some sections of the road.
Several calls have been made by motorists and other road users to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to rehabilitate the Kaduna-Kano road to alleviate their pains but all to no avail. The number of lives lost in road accidents on the Kaduna-Kano highway is too numerous to mention. It would be recalled that over 7 people once lost their lives in a ghastly auto crash that occurred on the road.
A regular traveler to Otukpo or Markurdi, the Benue State capital en-route Otukpa, seat of Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State would attest to the fact that the major road that links the country home of many who’s who of the society is nothing but an ugly masquerade covered with rags to scare crying babies.
The baldheaded old road is in a terrible condition crying for attention like a munchkin deprived of breast milk. The poor road is weeping and wailing like an infant whose mother has been intercepted by the icy hand of death. Intruders, such as craters, gulley potholes are ruling the road. In fact the road is tired of endless playing drums for helpless indigenes, sedans and visitors to dance even while mourning.From Otukpa to Otukpo, the ancestral home of Idoma kingdom; you’d be forced to dance along with your vehicle tono rhythm for close to four hours in the journey, which ought not to last for about one or 2 hours.
For regular travelers, the thought of venturing on Otukpa-Otukpo road is the beginning of a journey into uncertainties, eternity or the easiest way of booking appointment with fate and grave, nay a way of bring money for nearby coffin makers.
The neglected road has remained a perpetual nightmare and daredevil to travelers as potholes and gulley erosion have taken charge of the road.
The federal government at least on paper has voted billions for the rehabilitation of our road network. Previous federal ministers of Works have assured that contracts had been awarded, but nothing concrete ever happens on the ground. It has been suggested that the EFCC should be persuaded to look into what happened to the billions allocated for road works and whilst at it, to investigate similar billions said to have been expended on energy. This matter is important because our country cannot develop with rickety infrastructure and will not succeed in attracting direct foreign investment or tourism when things are this bad.
There is the problem of erosion impacting on the road network. Whole sections of our roads are being washed away by erosion and poorly planned or non-existent drainage system. Additionally there are many bridges without any warning signs and no handrails. Vehicles have been known to plunge into the river with grave consequences.
In the city of Lagos, all the main arteries now have dangerous potholes. It is practically impossible to avoid all of them as quite often one preventive maneuver often leads the driver into yet another pothole. There have been accidents and in some cases loss of lives and property. Trailers and tankers are quite vulnerable.
Accidents involving trailers often lead to marathon hold-ups. In Lagos a 30-minute journey can easily become a four-hour ordeal. On the notorious Lagos-Benin route an 8-hour journey was once accomplished in 36 hours.
Another problem besetting Nigerian roads is that they are not designed for expansion. As the volume of traffic increases, road construction should be seen to be keeping pace accordingly. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway, for instance, can do with further expansion. Corporate organisations should also assist in managing our roads as part of their social responsibility. For instance, right in front of Ewekoro cement factory, the road is hardly passable.
The lack of maintenance of roads in Nigeria has become a public issue as Nigerians are daily lamenting this failure of leadership. Good roads are a basic component of good governance. Nigerians are routinely being put at risk everyday as a result of the failure of the state to provide adequate amenities for its citizens. All the authorities involved in road construction and maintenance should buckle down and do something to remove this blot on Nigeria 's image.
Apart from the issue of bad roads, it has also been noticed that the Nigerian Road Network lacks the use of road signs, traffic lights etc.
Nigeria’s road shame goes viral online
Nigerians have been sharing pictures of the country's worst roads to shame the authorities into action. From the eyesore that is the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) road in Lagos, to the busiest road in West Africa (the Lagos-Ibadan expressway), the pictures of the dilapidated road network represents the worst degree of national shame. The eyesore is a bad advertisement for the country that reinforces the poor sense of priorities and ineptitude of the government. If visitors gauge a country by the aesthetics of its entry and exit points, Nigeria would rank as a refuse dump. The situation is a nightmare and an embarrassment that Nigerians cannot afford to live with any longer. Jonathan must rise up to the challenge, in the larger interests of the Nigerian people.
Certainly, the future is ominous if this challenge is not addressed comprehensively. Pictures of decrepit, dilapidated, bomb crater-sized potholes, with gulleys of water combined with mud to create trenches and muddy rivers have been posted online on Facebook and twitter. Amongst them include: the bumpy waterlogged death trap Ikorodu-Shagamu road, in Ogijo, Ogun, the Nnewi-Ameichi-Uga-Arondizuogu road; Rijau -Kontagora road, in Niger State and the Igbe road, Igbogbo Ikorodu where residents have been purchasing water pumping machines to assist in draining the water-logs on the road. Nigerian roads should rank highest on the President’s transformation agenda.
It is highly regrettable that in spite of Nigeria’s resource endowments, no administration has made it a priority to arrest the descent into anarchy with sound policies and appropriate investment in the road infrastructure. The federal authorities stand accused of despicable conduct by continuing to overlook the sorry state of Nigerian roads especially as visitors to the country are immediately exposed to dirt, disorder and insecurity upon arrival in Nigeria. Fuel tanker drivers compound the problem with their lawlessness, as they have little regard for the safety of other motorists. Containers from unlatched articulated trucks have also claimed many lives on the pot-hole infested roads, while the unlit portions of highways and roads across the country give safety worries to many road users especially at night. Nigeria has the highest road fatality rates in Africa and one of the world’s highest rates of road deaths.
This sorry state of affairs is attributable to the federal government’s negligence, despite the whooping 1.4 trillion naira ($8.5 billion) reportedly spent on road infrastructure since 1999. So much has been appropriated for Nigerian roads with very little to show for it. The system is rotten and nothing but a thriving platform for corruption in the country. As the nation’s much talked-about centenary year comes to an end, and another election year approaches, this is the time for a systemic revolution that should upturn the tables of Nigerian roads. Nigeria cannot afford to plummet further, by remaining the crawling giant of Africa, and the beggarly, weeping boy in the assembly of nations.
If after 54 years of independence, a country cannot project in good light the road leading to its main airport with a view to showcasing its potentials in tourism and business, how can it manage anything else? The cosmetic patching by Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is not what Nigerian roads need; it is an insult on the intelligence of Nigerians. As states and the federal authorities trade blame over responsibility for maintaining and improving the roads; nothing gets done, and frustrated Nigerians are left to spend their time in traffic jams, cursing and developing high blood pressure.
The federal and state governments have a responsibility to salvage the road infrastructure begging for attention in the country.