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Editorial

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Motorable road networks are keys to the economic development of any nation. But in Nigeria, the conditions of roads are so deplorable that they have not only made life miserable for citizens but have become death traps and an embarrassment to the country.

Motorable road networks are keys to the economic development of any nation. But in Nigeria, the conditions of roads are so deplorable that they have not only made life miserable for citizens but have become death traps and an embarrassment to the country.

These roads, whether the Trunk A roads belonging to the Federal Government, or the Trunks B and C roads managed by states and local governments across the country are mostly in poor conditions hampering free movement of people and goods. Travelling by road has become hellish in the country, especially during the rainy season, when vehicles get stuck in gullies on the roads, causing traffic gridlocks and endangering the lives of commuters and motorists.
This situation is compounded by ineffective rail transportation and water transportation system and a struggling air transportation system that is mostly available to very few. It is therefore inevitable that government must take the construction and maintenance of roads very seriously. On a daily basis, scores of people are killed in avoidable accidents caused by the poor state of the roads, as well as man-hour lost in the course of these movements. Government cannot continue to pay mere lip service to this challenge.
Unless these roads are urgently rehabilitated, the multiplier effects on the nation's economy would take decades to heal. It is crass insensitivity for the federal and state government to abandon their constitutional responsibilities of providing basic infrastructure, while the funds earmarked for road construction and rehabilitation are brazenly stolen by corrupt officials, who at other times collude with contractors to deliver poor jobs. It is a misplacement of priority that the Federal Government, which claims to be diversifying the economy from oil to agriculture, could neglect the roads that facilitate both intra and inter-state movement of people and produce.
Government needs to be reminded that it is through good roads that farmers can be better rewarded by transporting their produce to cities where they are in high demand. It is also a disservice to the people that strategic roads, which connect the south with the north, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, could be left in such a terrible state of disrepair. We are pained that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, which used to carry out some form of maintenance, seem to have abandoned their responsibility. Government at all levels must justify the billions of funds that are budgeted to construct and rehabilitate roads every year. As the issue of road maintenance has turned into buck passing between the federal and state government, Nigeria Moment supports the recent request by governors that the Federal Government hands over the repair of roads in their states to them. The present government can show its commitment to improving the condition of roads by stripping Power and Housing from the portfolios of Babatunde Fashola so he can just be the Minister of Works, if the President thinks he is the man who can deliver the goods.
Besides, in cases where contractors abandoned their jobs after having been mobilized, the federal or state governments as the case may be, must prosecute them and their cohorts in the civil service to serve as deterrent to others. We urge the re-positioning of the FERMA which has indeed been incapacitated by the fact that most of the roads they service need outright reconstruction and not maintenance. The time has come for the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on roads. It must also not fail to look the way of registered engineers in the country who are more qualified to handle civil jobs than the expatriates who have none other qualification than the colour of their skin.

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