Monday, 24 December 2012

Opinion: Defying Presidential Directive On Roads Repair


A Bad Road In Nigeria


By Nelson Ekujumi

A constitutional responsibility of government at all levels is the welfare of the citizenry and the roads is a critical picture of this state of welfare because of its indispensable economic importance in the life of the people. This sector just like other parts of the economy is in a terrible state and this is responsible for the alarming rate of road accidents that have consumed thousands of lives and destroyed trillions in economic value of goods and properties.

Thus, one could not hide his joy when the news broke that President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered the immediate rehabilitation of all federal roads in the country in order to ameliorate the human conditions suffered on the roads as we approach the yuletide. To underline the seriousness of the federal government, it even had to revoke a long standing concessionaire agreement with a construction firm in order to speed up repair works on one of the country’s gateway expressway.

However, one is baffled that months after this Presidential directive, it seems no one is listening in order to carry out repair works on the Lagos Abeokuta expressway as motorists and commuters daily spend agonizing hours on the road as a result of the several failed portions. A journey on that road these days is just too traumatic with the damage to individual’s health, wear and tear on vehicles coupled with the danger posed to the life of road users as a result of accidents and criminality which are being engendered by the man holes on the road.

Another worrisome aspect of this failed federal road is the indiscriminate removal of road medians by unscrupulous elements which have paved way for illegal U turns at dangerous sections of the road such as at Ile Epo bus stop and in between Adura and Shalolo bus stops. This illegal and life threatening U turn spots have resulted in accidents which have continuously claimed innocent lives and destroyed properties. Hence, there is urgent need for both the federal and Lagos state governments to come together with a view to finding a lasting solution to this menace on the road.

Another noticeable shortcoming on this federal road is the absence of carved out bus stops or shelters that would prevent commercial vehicles from staying on the road to either drop or pick up passengers and as a result causing unnecessary traffic jam which is inconveniencing to other road users. Also, there is need for the governments at both federal and state levels to look into this aspect with a view to making the road free and safe for all.

As we approach the Yuletide in some few hour’s times, it is our fervent hope and prayer that the honourable minister of works will be patriotic enough to give meaning to the directive of Mr. President with regards to the Lagos Abeokuta express road and other unattended to federal roads in order to ameliorate the human condition as well as putting in place mechanism for collaboration with the relevant state governments on addressing other challenges noted on the roads.

This is wishing all Nigerians, a merry Xmas and prosperous 2013.

(Ekujumi is Executive Secretary,
Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative (CRGI) and writes from 26A Adesina Street , Ikeja, Lagos)

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