It is a matter of fact that bad roads are synonymous with every government in Nigeria, for many decades now. With billions of naira spent for rehabilitating the roads or constructing new ones, yet a vehicle cannot move for a kilometre without encountering a bad spot or potholes. The situation is today a national disgrace as the country celebrates its 59 years of independence. No wonder even the legislators want their official cars renewed every four years without any consideration of the backlash on the economy.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has estimated that 3.7 deaths were recorded per 100,000 population for Nigeria in 2009. In contrast, a population-based study in the same country reported a higher estimate of 160 deaths per 100,000 population.
Every year, unsubstantiated statistics of road accidents and casualties are released by the FRSC despite the fact that many of such deaths are never reported. Thousands are also maimed due to bad roads.
In Africa, the number of road traffic injuries and deaths has been increasing over the last three decades. According to the 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety, World Health Organisation, Africa had the highest rate of fatalities from road traffic injuries worldwide at 26.6 per 100,000 population for the year 2013. In 2013, over 85 per cent of all deaths and 90 per cent of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost from road traffic injuries occurred in low- and middle-income countries, which have only 47 per cent of the world’s registered vehicles. The increased burden from road traffic injuries and deaths is partly due to economic development, which has led to an increased number of vehicles on the road.
Statistically, Nigeria ranks first in Africa with the worst unmotorable road networks capping it with the highest number of accidents and deaths. My recent journey from Abuja to Enugu and another from Owerri Airport to lsikwuato Local Government Area in Abia State, where you cannot find officials of FRSC, was an eye-opener and could serve as a case study to drive home the point about government’s insensitivity to the plight of ordinary citizens. The common man makes use of public transport for every trip, and to evacuate agricultural products. The road is the only way for the masses to move from one point to another. Today, the roads have become a death trap. The roads have become a harbinger of insecurity across the country.
Hundreds of innocent Nigerians have met their Waterloo along the roads. Some have been kidnapped, like the former deputy Director of State Security, Mr. Mich Ejiofor, who was kidnapped along the road. A former aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Onukaba Ojo, was not too lucky as he was killed in cold blood along the road. Many families have been bereaved and many women turned widows sequel to this malaise. Unfortunately, the FRSC could not produce any authentic data to help this writer make an arguement on the death toll on our roads.
A few years ago, this writer was in Ghana and had to travel by road from Accra to Kumasi. It was a smooth journey. The question on my lips was, “What type of gene is in the blood of Nigerian leaders that makes them subvert the joy of their people?” Don’t they travel outside the country? Don’t they see the difference and compare it with the squalor back home? Interestingly, the country is endowed with all the substances needed to construct a road. Things like bitumen, asphalt, sharp sand, etc, can all be sourced locally, so, what exactly is the problem?
Neighboring countries around Nigeria are said to be importing bitumen from Nigeria, yet our roads are in terrible and shameful state. We have just celebrated Independence, though “low keyed,” but why not! Do we have anything to beat our chest as being proud of? A friend who clocked 66 years regrettably told me that one shameful national legacy he was bequeathing his kids was shouting “up Nepa,” even when the name has changed; the organisation is yet to outgrow its notorious poor service.
Others include the education, health sectors and the financial scrounge. None has given the country a good image. Could it be that government realised these great shortcomings and quickly shut down any celebration mood. How can anyone bring out the drums for celebration when all the indices of good governance are lacking? How can the people blow the trumpet on empty stomachs, when even pets in the homes are attenuating like the squeezed ballon?
In a few more weeks, Nigerians would head to their country homes to celebrate Christmas and other end-of-year activities. Those planning to travel with their car may end up patronizing the numerous quack mechanics who would have positioned themselves along the highways to further wreck havoc on brokendown vehicles. When vehicles are not at the mercy of bad roads, highway robbers or kidnappers take over, causing mayhem and inflicting pains on travellers.
It has degenerated to the level where bandits, as government has chosen to describe them, abduct travellers from their vehicles , subject them to severe inhuman treatment and also demand for ransom. Only recently, the 88 years old mother of former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, was kidnapped in Bayelsa for huge ransom before she was set free by her youthful abductors who subjected her to harrowing captivity.
Such incidents abound across the country and continue unabated. Apart from the severe hunger ravaging most communities, the growing army of unemployed youths is left roaming and roaring like a hungry lions looking for whom to devour.
More regrettably is the absence of industries and the closing down of foreign enterprises. What more, the soaring exchange rate and unfavorable economic atmosphere that is militating against small businesses is like insult upon injury to the psych of ordinary Nigerians. All these translate to a frustrated enviroment, with frustration like a wind blowing everywhere.
Re: Lagos SARS blazes the trail
Sir, I have a copy of September 26, 2019, edition of The Sun Newspaper and have gone through your column on page 20, titled “Lagos SARS blazes the trail.” May God bless you, sir. I have also received numerous calls from those who have gone through it. My officers and men are very grateful to you for this piece. We regard it as a tonic that would further propel us through the “Ember months.” I pledge that we will work more to make the police proud and the people safe. God bless you.
– DSP Peter Gana, O/C SARS, Lagos State Command