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Rehabilitating roads nationwide

The deplorable state of many Nigerian roads, which hinder the movement of people, goods and services in the country, is no doubt something everyone should be worried about.
Bad as the roads are, however, the fact is that the federal and some state governments have rehabilitated quite a good number of them. Notwithstanding this fact, more than 70 per cent of federal, states and local governments’ roads are in various levels of decay, disrepair or collapse.
Even a casual observer will notice that the country records more road accidents now because of poor state of these roads than in the past.
Recently, the immediate past Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr. Osita Chidoka, who is now the Aviation Minister, said that Nigerian roads were the second worst in the world, stating that  the state of the roads placed the country on the 191st position out of 192 countries whose roads were currently rated based on safety standards.
Speaking on ‘Achieving the Decade of Action on Road Safety 2011-2020’ at the commission’s third annual lecture series in Abuja, Chidoka stated that the United Nations (UN) General Assembly had designated 2011 to 2020 as a decade of action on road safety for dedicated intervention by governments to bring down the estimated rise in deaths from road traffic crashes (RTC) by 50 per cent.
Nigeria’s current road traffic crashes (RTC) data rate is 162 deaths per 100,000 populations, according to the FRSC, while the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that over 1.3 million people were killed by RTC and 50 million injured on roads worldwide annually.
Poor condition of roads definitely is one of the factors responsible for the highest death rate and this calls for concerted efforts by all levels of government to ensure that Nigeria improves on its current ranking.
It is easy to reason that the country’s position in the Sahara region where rains fall in torrents is part of the reasons our roads are in serious bad shape.
Thankfully, the year is ending and the dry season is setting in. Therefore, we call on all governments and contractors who already have road contracts to be spirited about putting all the roads in motor able conditions.
For the governments yet to award road contracts, the setting in of the dry season should be an impetus to do so immediately. For contractors with such contracts and who have been slowed down by the downpour, they should also buckle up and mobilize to their sites.
Nigerians have been subjected to the pains and agonies of bad roads for a long time and this challenge comes with loss of lives and property through accidents and loss of man-hours.
Also due to bad roads, a lot of businesses have suffered or lost revenue as a result of disruption of business schedules, while most revenue generation for governments have been slowed down.
Every effort, therefore, must be made to fix our roads to minimize the losses incurred as a result of bad roads. The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) should also accelerate repair works on those roads that are under stress especially with the Christmas and new year period in sight when there will be high vehicular movement of human beings and materials.
Governments should not wait till December 24 or 25 to block major roads or highways under the guise of patching or maintaining the roads. The patching should be done before the mass movement of people begins.
We say this conscious of what happened last year when some parts of the country’s roads were blocked to commuters on the eve of these festive seasons.
Both states and local governments should device means of working together to ensure, for instance, that those federal roads which traverse the states are rehabilitated pending the time the states will be refunded such expenditure by the Federal Government after verification.
On their part, the Federal Government should not unnecessarily delay the refunds to the states after verification irrespective of political affiliation.
While calling for the immediate repair of federal, states and local governments’ roads, we urge that the present euphoria of politicking should not prevent any level of government from repairing and making roads in their domains motorable.
The rehabilitation of these roads should be done along with the construction of drainages and the work should be so solid that it will not fail after a short time as has been the common experience.
While urging that every effort by governments at all levels be made to ensure the implementation of the United Nations’ Decade of Action on Roads towards a 50 per cent  reduction in road accidents, we recommend that any contractor who does a shoddy road construction or reconstruction job should be surcharged and blacklisted by the relevant government.

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