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Motorists Lament Poor State Of Federal Roads

Posted: Oct 4, 2015 at 12:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Francis Onoiribholo (Benin) Gbenga Faturoti (Osogbo) Daniel Abia (Port Harcourt) Innocent Anolu (Owerri) Patience Ogbodo-Iwuagwu (Bauchi) Oladele Ogunsola (Ibadan) Yemi Akintomide (Akure) Juliet Oyoyo (Kaduna)

Many federal roads across the country are still in dilapidated conditions, Daily Independent investigations have revealed. This is in spite of interventions by the Federal Government through the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), and efforts by individual state governments.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

FERMA has been carrying out rehabilitation works on some of the roads but the efforts appear insignificant to make maximum impact.

Also, many state governments have funded reconstruction of some roads in their domains with the hope of a refund from Abuja. Indeed, the hopes of recovering the cost of repairing the roads have been short in fulfillment. Just last month, state governments said at a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that they had spent N535 billion, fixing federal roads, for which they want a refund. In spite of the huge sums budgeted and spent yearly by both the federal and state governments, however, most of the roads, including the highways that crisscross the country are in terribly

It is common to see vehicles break down, inhibiting free flow of traffic. It is also largely responsible for the high cost of transport and even porous security regime, as hoodlums capitalise on the distressed state of the roads to snatch vehicles, rob travellers, and kidnap members of the public.

In Owerri, the Imo State capital, Sunday Independent correspondent reports that some of the federal roads have become death traps due to the lack of maintenance.

Some of the roads in a state of disrepair include, the Owerri-Umuahia road, with a roundabout at Ahiara junction and a spur at Enyiogugu and Nkwogwu, the Okigwe–Owerri road, the Owerri-Elele road, Owerri-Aba road, Okpala-Igirita Road (Rivers State border) Ulakwo and the Umuohiagu-Obokwe-Alulu road as well as the Itu-Eziudo Road Ezinihitte and the Umuaka Amaigbo road.

Others are the Anara-Umuelemai-Umuezeala-isinweke road, Okigwe/Enugu Express Way, Ihiala-Orlu, Nkwere to Anara road.

Managing Director of Ikechi Motors Limited, Hyacinth Nwadi, told our correspondent that most of his company’s vehicles have broken down irreparably as a result of bad roads.

To remain afloat, Nnadi said that the company has been compelled to carry out routine maintenance of its vehicles at heavy costs.

A member of the state chapter of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Okechukwu Nwagbara, thundered, “My friend, we are really suffering because the roads are affecting our business as the rate of patronage by passengers has decreased”.

In Kaduna, stakeholders in the transport sector called on the government to creatr a National Road Fund,  dedicated to both rehabilitation and maintenance of Nigerian roads.

There are about 2,000 kilometres of federal roads in the state, many of which have outlived their lifespan. The federal roads within Kaduna State that have received some attention in recent times include the Kaduna-Abuja Highway, Kaduna-Kafanchan-Kwoi road, Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway and the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road. Another federal road that is currently in good shape is the Jere-Kardako-Makurdi stretch. But the Kaduna-Jos stretch of the roads, which had failed for several years, still remains in a complete state of disrepair.

A transporter with over 50 years experience, Mallam Mansur Awwaulu, however expressed fear that the fund while helping to maintain the road network, could give room for corruption, arising from political interference.

Federal Controller of Works in charge of Kaduna State, Engineer Tukur, declined comment on the state of the federal roads in Kaduna.

In Bauchi many travelers have reportedly lost their lives on the Bauchi/Ninigi-Kano federal road due to its bad shape.

Bauchi-Kano road is a busy one that links people traveling from Bauchi as well as other neighboring states to Kano largely for business and commercial activities, but parts of the roads have been washed away by erosion, making it difficult for motorists to ply the route.

Other Federal roads in Bauchi in need of urgent rehabilitation today, according to motorists and residents are: the Bauchi-Gombe road, and Bauchi-Kari road.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works, Dauda Kigbu, assured that the recent inauguration of a special task force committee on North-East road rehabilitation and maintenance was meant to fix the bad roads in the region to enable free movement of people as well as goods and services.

N11b Refund

Residents of Akure, Ondo State, told our correspondent that some of the roads that link Ondo with neighbouring states of Ekiti, Osun, Kogi, Edo and Ogun hsf collapsed, before Goodluck Jonathan administration carried out major repairs on some of them in the twilight of the administration.

Those rehabilitated include: The Ilesa-Akure and Benin-Ore-Sagamu roads had been transformed, wearing new looks after the Jonathan administration intervention and reconstruction late in 2014.

However, the Ondo State Government said the Federal Government still owes it about N11 billion spent on repairs and reconstruction works carried on some federal roads within the state in the last six years.

The state Commissioner for Works, Gboye Adegbenro, told Sunday Independent in Akure that since the state has difficulty recovering the money spent repairing federal roads, further works on other bad portions across the state had to be discontinued.

He named the roads: Owo-Ikare, Oka- Isua, Ajowa to Kogi State boundary, Itanla-Ademulegun dualised project in Ondo town and Arakale-Isinkan- Ondo dualised road in Akure, the state capital.

Ondo State Controller of the  Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Olufemi Abodunrin, also told our correspondent that the agency had been carrying out repair works on federal roads across the state, aside from construction and expansion of road, shoulders marking of highways. He listed the roads as: the Ore-Ondo-Ifetedo, Osun State boundary town, and Ondo-Akure-Owo-Ifon to Edo State boundary.

In Osun State, some of the federal roads were in a sorry state before the advent of the current administration, with between 60 to 70 per cent of the roads, especially those that transverse the state capital in Osogbo and a few others, taken over by the state government for reconstruction.

The roads are at various stages of completion, thereby reducing the suffering of the motorists in the state.

Officials of FERMA have also embarked on on-the-spot patching of some of the roads, like the Old-Garage-Ikirun-Ela-Odo- Kwara State boundary and Akoda-Gbongan dual carriageway, which the state government claims had gulped about N34 billion.

Construction work has, however, temporarily stopped on the roads due to the decline in the state’s revenue in recent times.

The Director of Media to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Semiu Okanlawon, said the state government was worried about the condition of federal roads in its domain, a development that has forced the administration to embark on the reconstruction of some of the roads.

Heavy Vehicles

Also, the deplorable condition of some of the federal roads passing through Edo State is threatening the economic and social activities in the nation’s heartbeat state.

Mostly affected: the Benin–Auchi-Okene-Lokoja road, Benin-Abraka—Obiaruku road and Agbor-Ekpon–Uromi road.

These were among the roads the Federal Government awarded to contractors who rolled out caterpillars and other road construction equipment to commence their dualisation.

For example, the Benin-Auchi-OKene-Lokoja road that has now become a death trap was awarded in three sections to three different contractors.

Section I from Benin to Ehor was awarded to Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) at a cost of N35.2 billion; section II from Ehor to Auchi went to Sawoe & Dantata, while section III from Auchi to Lokoja was awarded to Mothercat.

Work commenced from the Benin end of the road on December 24, 2012 with a completion date of 36 months. However, almost three years after, work has allegedly not progress beyond 24 per cent, while some portions of the road are now being closed to traffic due to their deplorable conditions.

However, work was still going on in the Benin axis of the road when Sunday Independent visited.

N105b Debt

Meanwhile, the failure of the Rivers State government to fix federal roads in the state has made life unbearable to both travelers and residents of the affected areas.

Emeh Glory Emeh, former Commission for Transport in the administration of former Governor Peter Odili, said the roads are now as bad as they were six years ago, lamenting that the same parts of the major East-West road, which is principally the only link between the six Niger Delta states and the rest of the country, had been abandoned for several years with each succeeding government only paying lip service to it.

Last year, former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, while taking journalists on inspection tour of some projects embarked upon by his administration, especially during his second term in office, said Abuja owed Rivers N105 billion spent on rehabilitation of federal roads within the State.

His successor, Governor Nyesom Wike says the state government would not tolerate any procrastination or delay in the repairs of the Eleme portion of the East-West Road, valued at N3 billion.