By Emmanuel Ndon
Good roads are drivers of economic growth . They bring social benefits and provide access to employment, health and education . In addition, a good road network is crucial in reduction of poverty. Roads open up areas and stimulate economic and social development. For these reasons, road infrastructure is the most important of all public assets.
In the same vein, transportation is a vital key that unlocks socio-economic growth in every country. Countries with the best roads make mobility and distribution of goods and services faster and easier. This goes a long way to improve the bottom line of companies and improves the country’s GDP.
According to statistics from the World Bank, 90% of transportation in Africa , including Nigeria, is done via roads, with an estimated 2% of the world’s vehicles operating in Africa. That means to increase our standing on the socio-economic ladder , there’s
need to ensure good road network in all regions of the country.
The importance of road transport in Nigeria cannot be underestimated. Most of the distribution chains are carried about trough road transport. This emphasizes the seriousness the country should place on the development of good road networks.
Nigeria has about 200,000 kilometres road network, out of which a proportion of about 33,000 kilometres are federal Highways, 50,000 kilometres state Highways , while 117,000 kilometers fall under local government and feeder roads.
Out of this, data from Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) reveals that only about 60,000km are paved. Of the paved roads, a large proportion is in very poor and unacceptable condition due to insufficient investment and lack of adequate maintenance.
Calabar – Itu road falls under this unfortunate category. Constructed in 1976, Calabar -Itu road has remained a death trap, cynosure of tragedy , a terrible site of neglect and a nightmare.
It is true that the federal government has made efforts at re -construction and maintenance of the road at different times but because they were not concerted and followed through, it has not yielded the expected result.
Interestingly, the Calabar – Itu road rehabilitation project has had the privilege of sailing through the 2016-2017 budgets. Only in 2018 were remedial measures carried out in the Odukpani section of the road. Because it attracts high volume of traffic, the patched area along with other failed portions, have left the entire stretch of the road impassable.
The neglect of Calabar – Itu road, once a toast of the city, comes with severe economic consequences. It has hindered free movement of goods, persons and services particularly the trade between Aba and Calabar as well as the wanton destruction of lives and property as a result of incessant motor accidents. It is estimated that nearly N1billon have been lost in the last three years alone due to the poor state of the road apart from denying the conviviality between kiths and kin from Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.
No week passes without witnessing carnages. Only last week, several accidents occurred on the road with monumental loss of lives and property
The federal government should spare us this avoidable deaths by effecting timely and immediate rehabilitation of Calabar – Itu road. We appeal to all our political office holders, particularly members of the National Assembly, elders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), to use their good offices and humanitarian disposition to attract immediate reconstruction of the road.
Good road transport will provide access to jobs, connect production to distribution, provide access to markets and even healthcare and education.
Surveys show that adequately maintaining road infrastructure is essential to preserve and enhance those benefits. But a backlog of outstanding maintenance has caused irreversible deterioration of the road network. If insufficient maintenance is carried out, roads can need replacing or major repairs after just a few years. That deterioration spread across a road system very quickly results in soaring costs and a major financial impact on the economy and citizens.
With this in mind, the importance of maintenance needs to be recognised by decision-makers. However in most instances this is not recognised and as a result poor asset management means that many road networks in the country are not in good condition.
Considering the relevance, Nigeria needs to step up investment in road maintenance to promote development and eradicate poverty.