At no time in Nigeria’s history are roads as bad as they are today. Communities, local government areas, states and regions are been being cut off from one another without anything done to check the deterioration.
Apart from the huge negative impact this ugly development is having on the national economy, local farmers can no longer take their farm products to market, leading to additional poverty among inhabitants of rural communities.
Nigerian roads, both federal and state, are deteriorating, despite trillions of Naira that have been allocated to the Works sub-sector by the Federal Government and the claims by state governments of huge financial expenditures on road construction and rehabilitation.
Travelling from one part of the Nigeria to another has become a nightmare. It is like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and many citizens are actually dying in the process, due to avoidable accidents.
The bad portion of Auchi-Benin road in Edo State is a case in point; and it is not an isolated case. From Auchi to Benin now takes more than three hours rather than about forty minutes, due to the terrible nature of the road.
Still in Edo State, if you are travelling from Okene in Kogi State to Auchi, passing through Okpella, you will surely regret ever embarking on such a journey, especially when you get to Okpella where you have to stay at a spot for more than two hours due to traffic gridlock caused by hundreds of trailers, many of which are sunk in mud for days.
Sounding modest, it is most likely that Okpella-Auchi road is currently the number one of bad spots in Nigeria, unless someone would prove the contrary.
As the road is totally locked up, travelers have to resort to meandering through the bushes and footpaths seeking for possible escape; a process of which leads to breakdown of many commercial buses and cars inside the bush, causing complete logjam.
Travelers from Awka in Anambra State to Abuja are now forced to drive from Awka to 9th Mile and connect Eastern part of Kogi State and then to Lokoja to Abuja, rather than Awka-Onitsha axis which is shorter.
But that too, has not solved the problem because the Amansea bypass which serves as a buffer to access Nnamdi Azikiwe University gate before proceeding to 9th Mile has been completely washed off which compel commuters to now resort to Aguata- Oji River road that takes up to two and half hours to Enugu town (instead of 25 minutes from Awka) before connecting Nsukka, then to Kogi and Abuja.
Internally, the whole of South East, South-South and most of South West have no accessible roads anymore; the same with many parts of Northern Nigeria, which hitherto used to boast of better roads.
A journey from Enugu to Port Harcourt through Umuahia road now takes almost a whole day, same with Otukpo to Ogoja, Warri to Lagos, Lafia in Nasarawa State to Markurdi in Benue State; and to everywhere.
It seems Nigerian leaders are themselves, unknowingly restructuring the country by allowing bad roads cut off communities, states and regions, to the extent that as some point, everyone will have to remain where they found themselves and make do with whatever they have.
What is most worrisome about the terrible situation of Nigerian roads and their continuing dilapidation is that year in, year out, governments at all levels claim to have allocated billions of Naira to this all-important sector with little or no result.
For example, in 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing received budgetary allocation of N529 billion and N555.88 billion respectively. In the 2019 budget, Works and Housing, now separated from Power, was allocated N262 billion, according to available records.
Apart from these huge budgetary allocations, there is also the Financing bond system called SUKUK from where President Muhammadu Buhari approved the sum of N100 billion which was also released for construction and rehabilitation of some roads including the outstanding section of Onitsha-Enugu expressway:
Amansea-Enugu border mentioned earlier that is now non-passable; construction of Oju/Loko-Oweto bridge over River Benue to link Loko (Nasarawa State) and Oweto (Benue State) along route F238;
dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin road. Section II: Oyo -Ogbomosho road in Oyo; dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin road Section II: Oyo -Ogbomosho road in Oy; dualisation of Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja road section I (international airport link road junction – Sheda village, Dualisation of Suleja-Minna road in Niger State phase II (km 40+000-km101+000);
dualisation of Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja road: Section IV Koton Karfe-Lokoja in Kogi State and dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri road linking Kano-jigawa-Bauchi-Yobe. Almost all the roads mentioned here and others captured in the SUKUK loan bond are still in very bad condition.
Aware of the antics of government officials in the Works Ministry to use ‘rainy season’ as excuse for not carrying out their statutory duties for which huge allocations have been released to them,
we call on President Buhari and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in general to take seriously the urgent need to fix Nigerian roads and make them fit for human beings. Work should commence on them as soon as the ‘rains’ are over.