From its 2017 budget, the federal government allocated a total of N555.99 billion to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. Out of that amount, N295 billion was reportedly set aside for key capital projects which included funds for construction, expansion and maintenance of roads across the country. Yet, whatever the ministry may have done to redress the situation, the impact is hardly felt by Nigerians as most of the roads in the country remain simply impassable. And the rains which came in torrents this year have only added to the woes of road travellers.
It is noteworthy that aside capturing several road projects in the 2017 appropriation, the federal government also opted for supplementary funding to repair or build roads it considered economically important to the country. The minister of power, works and housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola as well as other federal government officials have particularly made a song and dance about using a N100 billion Sukuk Bond to augment budgetary funding for road construction. But the condition of the roads across the country is still deplorable and this should compel a rethink of the current strategy if anything is going to be achieved.
As we have repeated on this page, trips that ordinarily should take no more than a few minutes now take hours and at times days because of the conditions of most of the major access roads. And no part of the country is spared. It is not just that most of these roads are so impassable that we find very disturbing, it is also the fact that the dangerous spots along many of them have also become convenient operating centres for highway robbers who lay siege to unsuspecting motorists and other road users. This is aside the notorious fact that the poor state of these roads hampers economic activities as farm produce cannot be transported to areas where they are needed. In the rainy season, many communities have practically been cut off with impassable roads.
From the Calabar-Itu road to the Abuja-Kaduna, Enugu-Onitsha and then the Calabar-Ikom-Katsina-Ala road as well as the Benin-Auchi, Ibillo - Okene - Lokoja highway, commuters are made to suffer by meandering through these roads just as they experience nightmares when they travel through the Benin-Ore-Ofosu, the Ibillo-Ondo-Lagos road, Ibillo-Okene-Lokoja road and the Ilorin-Omuaran-Otun Ekiti State road. Other road networks that are in terrible conditions include the Ore-Okitipupa and Ore-Ijebu-Ode, the Akure-Ondo-Ore, Akure-Ikere and Akure-Ilesa roads; the Akure-Owo, the Owo-Ikare-Oke-Agbe roads; the Ikare-Ugbe-Epinmi-Isua roads as well as the Ikare-Erusu-Ikaram-Akunnu roads. Even in Lagos, the roads leading to Apapa, the strategic port city where hundreds of millions of naira are made daily by the government and others, are embarrassing. Over the years, billions of naira had been poured on the Oshodi-Apapa road but it is still in a shambles, crater-ridden and looking more like a war-ravaged area.
Realising how important roads are for economic development and human mobility, President Muhammadu Buhari had made fixing Nigeria's infrastructure a campaign promise in 2015. That is why we urge the federal government to live up to its commitment and lessen the sufferings of commuters who travel through the bad road networks on daily basis. It is therefore our hope that Fashola and his men will do all within their powers to ensure that the craters and potholes on many of our major roads are fixed as quickly as possible.
We will like to also ask that politicking for the 2019 election should not displace the task of governance which includes fixing the roads and ensuring that citizens' travels are done with little or no risk to their lives and livelihoods.