After electricity and security, a major challenge on which many Nigerians have reached consensus is the need to fix our roads that are absolutely in utter state of neglect, disrepair, decay and rot. Nigerian roads have been described as "slaughter slabs" because of the incessant automobile accidents recorded in which thousands of people lost their lives yearly.
Often, both federal and state governments seemed to be at a loss and overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem as most major roads and highways across the country have collapsed completely.
While intra-city or town roads are afflicted by traffic gridlocks due to potholes, causing huge loss of manpower hours and unnecessary delays in meeting up with appointments socio-economic and business engagements, the cross-country roads and highways are riddled with several failed portions crippling vehicular movements, sometimes to a standstill. Trips that could ordinarily take three or four hours end up lasting for nine hours or more.
Saturday Vanguard sampled the views of some Nigerians as to what they want done in 2013, their responses were the need for government prioritise road projects in the country.
Mr. Timothy Aderemi is a saw miller and plank dealer in Ebute Metta, Lagos who shuttles between Laos and Ife often believes government is not doing enough to give our roads the desired face lift to ensure safety of users.
"I begin to wonder why the roads are left dilapidated and abandoned for so long. May be the reason is that our leaders are not used to travelling by road. If they go by road and experience what average Nigerians passed through, their attitude to road rehabilitation and construction will be positive. All the governments in the federation should review their priorities this new year and pay adequate attention to the roads."
He said with the amount of financial resources available, modern roads and expressways should be constructed to facilitate easy movements of people and goods from one point to another.
"Nigeria is blessed and we should use our abundant resources to build more roads for use of the people and not waste these resources on irrelevant projects that cannot add value to our lives," Aderemi Advised.
A banker, Stephen Temisan, laments the horrible state of Nigerian roads and the need to take urgent actions to redress the situation.
"I just returned with my family from Warri, Delta State where I spent the Christmas period. The road from Sagamu to Benin City is still not completely free from hold-ups caused by numerous bad spots. I've noticed that construction is not ever finished on this road.
Workers are always there, traffic diverted for construction, causing untold delay to travell4ers. Many accidents occur between Sagamu and Benin City leading to loss of human lives, especially head-on-collision of vehicles."
Temisan added: "I am appealing to all the state governments involved and the federal government to ensure the completion of the road in 2013. Some of the bridges have broken down without railings anymore making it easier for cars, buses to plunge directly into the river. They should do something to save the lives of travellers. I think President Goodluck Jonathan can come to the rescue."
A woman trader, Mrs. Agnes Ayingba who travels from Lagos to Makurdi to buy yams and tomatoes for sale in Iddo market told Saturday Vanguard that the road network is so bad that her business trip has become a nightmare.
"I want the government to look seriously at our roads and take action urgently to save the situation. Many accidents have happened involving traders. Many have died on the roads while goods worth millions of naira have also perished along as the roads are not good and should be put right for God's sake."
I hope something will be done in this new year by government towards better and safe roads. We, traders carrying goods through these bad roads know what we're suffering hence government should help in fixing the roads for commerce to boom," she pleaded.
According to her, government is trying because there are other projects and ventures which are also attracting attention. "I pray that the government should do more and focus on the roads in this 2013. \When the roads are well built, smooth and good, transportation will flow and robbers won't be able to attack travellers."
An accountant, Mr. David Eni, while appealing for construction of some major roads to be finished like the East/West highway, the Lagos/Ibadan expressway and some other roads linking major cities and towns in the North, and most of the six geo-political zones,. The issue of availability of funds to execute important road projects could be challenging.
He endorsed the idea of concession of road projects. Paucity of funds which has made rehabilitation and construction of roads largely impossible can be addressed through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
"Introducing concessionaire system in building of roads after which such roads would be handed over to private ownership until funds expended are recovered may be a viable option, in having an effective, efficient, modern road network.
Our investigation has shown that the federal government is reviewing road projects and funding to bring in concessionaire in order to save cost. Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen was reported saying that there are certain criteria which would drive road projects and topmost on the criteria is the prioritisation of projects based on availability of funds.