‘Poor Road Infrastructure Development A Set Back To Economy’



WITH the provision of multiplicity of access, the network of roads in Nigeria remains the backbone of its social and economic activities, as economic development is closely related to the extension and condition of road network.

Generally, roads are considered the country’s biggest public capital asset, representing between 15 and 30 per cent its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

THE deplorable state of roads in the country has spurred Dr. Mayne David-West (Snr), a highway engineer/expert and Principal, Pearl Consultants in Port Harcourt to canvass the urgent passage of the Roads Reform Bills by the National Assembly.

Poor road infrastructure has become a national shame and there is hardly any part of the country that can boast of motorable roads, be they Trunk A, B or C, with no alternative, as the railway system is dysfunctional and air transport sector largely inefficient.

Unfortunately, no tier of government can be said to have performed creditably well on matters of roads construction and maintenance.

Nigerians die daily in avoidable accidents due to bad roads. Man-hours are lost in traffic, and the national economy suffers losses. Despite huge oil revenue, the country lacks good transportation system.

In a paper titled. ‘Road Sector Reform: An Imperative for Sustainable Development,’ which he presented at 2nd National Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria of the Institute in Abuja, David-West put the approximate asset of Nigeria’s roads at N5 trillion, noting that excellent roads would cause considerable reduction in the cost of production and save time in movement of goods and persons from place to place.

The situation of road infrastructure in the country in a way increases the rate of poverty, particularly among the peasants, who as farmers, artisan and petty traders inhabit mostly the neglected rural areas.

David-West said with about 200,000 kilometres of road network, Nigeria has the largest road network in West Africa and the second largest, south of the Sahara, but that
only about 65,000 km of this number is paved in bitumen.

According to him, about 95 per cent of both passenger and freight movements in Nigeria are by road and the federal roads account for only about 54 per cent of the total bituminous
national road network, as it also accounts for over 80 per cent of the national vehicular and freight traffic.

He said the reform agenda in the road sector is to deliver better and safer roads to citizens, as well as link the six geo-political zones in the country with dual carriageways.

The passage and implementation of the Bill, he stated, would stimulate private sector financing of roads infrastructure across the country.

The Bill, he added, would enable sustainability in the delivering of good road infrastructure, which would bring all highway roads under regular maintenance.

With an estimated average of national road network at 194, 200 km, he said 34,120 km are federal roads, while 30,500km represents roads owned by states, of which 129, 580 km belong to the local governments.”

David-West, who is also a Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) said with about 68.3 per cent of the country’s roads in terrible condition, the Bills, when passed into law, would be the pathway, whereby huge private funds can be attracted to invest in the
road sector to fill the funding gaps within a framework of sustainable contractual arraignment would be created.

“Investment in critical road infrastructure will cover different forms of long-term contracts drawn between legal entities and public authorities aimed at financing designs, constructing, operating and
maintaining the roads for sustainable road network development,” he said.

David-West explained that the passage of the Bill would usher in a new way, with opportunities for engineering professionals and job creation.

“The proposed Bill is to guarantee
sustainable funding and management for road sector, besides the annual budget.

“The Bill would create a semi-autonomous road agency that would be responsible for the efficient constructions, maintenance and rehabilitation of federal roads, as well
as providing the overall framework and advice for coordinating and technical specification of national roads, including states and local government roads,” he explained.

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