State Of Nigerian Roads: Pains, Losses To Economy | Independent Newspapers Limited
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State Of Nigerian Roads: Pains, Losses To Economy

Posted: Jul 6, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Recent developments indicate that government often neglects areas where it generates chunk of its annual revenue. The state of oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region and the Apapa/Oshodi express Way, serving as main access road to the two seaports in Lagos state, presents clear examples. In this special report, first of five –part, Andrew Airahuobhor, Bamidele Ogunwusi, Sola Alalabadan, Oyeniran Apata, Nkasiobi Uluikpe, Akinwumi King, focuses on how the dilapidated state of the road infrastructure causes pains and losses to the economy.

Akinwunmi Ambode

Akinwunmi Ambode

“Lagos will, in the foreseeable future, remain the nation’s commercial capital and one of its nerve centers… The port facilities and other economic activities in the Lagos area have to be expanded…” the late Head of State, Gen. Muritala Muhammed made the statement in a national broadcast on February 3, 1976, when he envisaged that Lagos would remain the commercial hub of Nigeria while moving the capital to Abuja.

Sadly though, successive administrations did not run with that vision. Neither did they have another. Consequently, population growth and attendant increase in human activities have exposed the lack of foresight of the country’s leaders.

Until last week when Governor Akinwumi Ambode engendered a temporary respite by dislodging tankers and trucks from the Apapa/Oshodi Express way, doing business in the Apapa area was a nightmare. The Express Way is the main access road to the two ports in Lagos, which serve as gateways to the nation’s economy.

The road is in a state of disrepair. The potholes can almost swallow a medium sized car. Containers fall off trucks regularly at the bad portions especially at the Tin Can Island Port gate and Trinity Bus stop, killing people and damaging goods worth millions of Naira.

The incidents often cause a huge traffic gridlock resulting to loss of several man hours. Businesses operating along the Apapa/Oshodi express way have suffered huge loss occasioned by low patronage due to bad road. This is despite the huge revenue accruing to federation account from transactions around the port environment. The condition has worsened in the last ten years amidst endless promises from successive works, transport ministers.

Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), had told newsmen that bad access roads have grounded nine of the eleven operational terminals under its Command, making it difficult for it to achieve the revenue target set for it. The Customs said the lull in activities in the command is as a result of the bad access roads which makes it difficult for containers to be transferred to KLT.

Tin Can Island Port Area

Since Tin Can Island Port was built in 1977, the Apapa/Oshodi Express Road has not received any significant rehabilitation. This is in spite the fact that cargo throughput in the port has more than quadrupled since then.

From the two ports, Apapa Ports and Tin Can Island Port, alone, the Nigeria Customs Service generates more than 65 percent of its N977 billion revenue in 2014. This is aside from revenue that the state and council governments generate as taxes on companies and industries operating in Apapa.

“I am not really happy with the situation on that road,” said Francis Omotosho, a transport expert and senior special assistant on technical matters to the national president of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). He said government ought to use all the taxes and levies collected from the port to fix the roads. “Somebody imported goods, and paid all the duty, seven percent surcharge etc, and on the way, his container falls off. These are people that even make the economy tick who pay this money at the port of entry yet they don’t get what they deserve.”

He chided government for not doing anything on that road for this long, saying “It’s a big shame to them. It shows their lack of responsibility. They should be sent to school to learn governance.”

The implication of the bad road, according to him, is that as one container is falling, one company is closing down and over 100 jobs lost, leaving dependents in hunger. “It is a multiplier effect. You don’t know if the total amount of that container, about N10 million or N20 million is the total capital base for that company. For every container that falls, one company has closed down,” he said.

Lamenting the state of the road, Omotosho said government should take into consideration the high tonnage of goods passing through the Apapa/Oshodi express way in planning road construction.

“They are just constructing roads as if they are constructing it in the village, Load that pass through that road, at least a container is about 15 tons with the truck it should be going to 20 tons. The aixle load on that road daily is in thousand tones. So the thickness of the pavement should be very thick. You are supposed to construct a road that will last minimum of 25 year before any major surgery would be done on that road,” he said.

Last May 2014, the President Goodluck Jonathan led Federal Government said repair works on access roads to the nation’s ports especially Apapa, will be completed in two months while awaiting the execution of the main contracts to cushion the effect of the gridlock on the busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

But last week, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Western Port said that it has entered into a joint road rehabilitation project with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). The joint efforts are aimed to ease the traffic situation on the ports access roads.

Addressing the media at the Lagos Ports Complex before embarking on a tour of the port, the General Manager of NPA Western Ports, Chief Michael Ajayi said the traffic situation has affected the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

According to him, NPA would be meeting with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on how to repair the access roads leading to the ports. Terminal Operators at the LPC also said that the perennial gridlock is adversely affecting their operations.

Managing Director, Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited, Capt. Muhammed Bashir appealed for urgent repairs of the port access roads. “The first primary thing is the access road to the port and we know the essence of business is to generate money for business and also for the economy of the country. We know what we are experiencing on this road for the past few years if you have a say please expedite action and rescue our business,” he said.

“The roads had been built for a long time when the cargo traffic was not as huge as this so, there is need for the government to expand. There is need for expansion because the gridlock is causing a lot of Havoc,” said Assistant General Manager, ENL Consortium Modupe Markus.

Before now, former administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had awarded a multi-billion naira contract for the total redevelopment and expansion of the nation’s gate way but it was not clear what transpired that lead to the non-conclusion and delivery of the road before the end of the administration.

Investigations showed that whereas the contract details and specification as awarded to Messers Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is to start from the Port area straight to Ojota end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the road reconstruction work by the company got stocked and stopped at Cele Bus Stop, less than 10kms from the starting point.

It will be recalled that the federal government awarded a N6billion-contract in November 2010 for the rehabilitation of the expressway. The contract, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), involved the rehabilitation of the road from Km 0 to Km 15. While Borini Prono starts from Km 0 and ends at Km 7 (Apapa-Tin Can Island Port to the Sunrise Bridge/Beach Land Estate junction); Julius Berger, the German construction giant, starts from there to  Cele Bus-Stop (Km 7 to Km 15).

Four years after, commuters and businesses on the Apapa-bound and Oshodi-bound  carriageways have worse tales of woe to tell as Tin Can gate portion of the expressway has gone from bad to worse, leading to endless and life-threatening gridlock.

While admitting the slow pace of work, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Oluwatoyin Obikoya, said work on the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway has reached 38 per cent completion. Obikoya said the high volume of vehicles, indiscriminate parking of articulated vehicles and reckless driving have slowed down the pace of work.

But the Engineer in charge of the reconstruction of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway in Lagos, Mrs Adigom-Vivienne Aniagoh said that the project had reached 65 per cent completion. She also blamed indiscriminate parking of articulated vehicles on the highway, which causes traffic, for the slow progress of work.


NIIMP Report

Since the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) report in 2013 that about 68.3 percent of Nigeria’s roads are in terrible disrepair, little seems to have been done by government.

According to the report, 40 percent of the bad roads belong to the federal government, 78 percent to states and 87 percent to the local governments. The report, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in the last quarter of 2014 listed the bad roads as including arterial roads, federal highways, access roads owned and controlled by the states, and feeder roads which are under the local governments.

Analysts say the poor state of the roads slows the speed to market of goods and services, raises cost, reduces competitiveness and is a disincentive to local and foreign investment.

The 193 page working document reveal that it is estimated that 40 percent of the federal road network is in poor condition (in need of rehabilitation);30 percent in fair condition (requiring periodic maintenance); and about 27 percent is in good condition (requiring only routine maintenance).

The remaining three percent is accounted for by unpaved trunk roads that need to be paved. In the case of state roads, 78 percent are in poor condition, and 87percent of local government roads are also in poor condition.

The National Planning Commission stated that the total investment requirement for the transportation sector will amount to about $800 billion, of which $265 billion is attributable to rehabilitation and expansion of the road network.

This comprises rehabilitating about 120,000 km of existing roads, extending the total length of paved roads from the current 70,000 km to more than 180,000 km, and increasing general road density by about 50 percent.

Nigeria has a national road network of about 200,000km and out of these total, federal roads makes up 18 percent (35,000km), state roads 15 percent (17,000km), and local government roads 67 percent (150,000km).

The road sector accounts for about 90 percent of all freight and passenger movement in the country. Although the Federal road network constitutes 18 percent of the total national network, it accounts for about 70 of the national vehicular and freight traffic.

Accoding to the NIIMP, the current unsatisfactory state of Nigerian roads can be attributed to challenges including the inefficient institutional structure for the management of roads.

The report recalls that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was established as a stop gap before undertaking more substantive sector reforms, but says Nigeria continues to rely on traditional general budget allocations to fund road maintenance and rehabilitation.

The NIIMP says that the current maintenance levels are insufficient to sustain the quality of the existing road infrastructure, resulting in further deterioration. Successive governments in Nigeria have allocated resources to federal road rehabilitation, but not enough of these resources are reserved for preventive maintenance.

In recent years, Nigeria has only allocated about $ 50 million per year for road infrastructure, according to the 2011 Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD) Report.

The report said overloading, blocked drainage structures and parking of heavy axle vehicles on carriageways contribute to additional deterioration of road infrastructure.

Road Accidents

Although not all road crashes are caused by bad roads. It is believed that bad roads significantly increase the risk of accidents.

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said 1,903 children had died in road accidents in Nigeria between 2010 and 2014.

This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Imoh Etuk, the Corps’ Public Education Officer, as part of activities to mark this year’s Road Safety Week, which took place from May 4 -10.

According to the commission, 1,903 children were killed and 8,667 others were injured in 61,806 reported cases of road crashes during the period.

“1,138 males and 765 female children died in the last 5 years, while 5,426 males and 3,241 female children were also injured during the same period.

“Global statistics on road crashes indicate that around 186,300 children under 18 years die from road traffic crashes annually. Also, rates of road traffic death are three times higher in developing countries than in developed countries,” Etuk said.

He said the United Nations sought to draw global attention to the plight of children on the world’s roads and generate action to better ensure their safety, with the theme “Save Kids’ Lives”.