The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has challenged the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently come up with a master plan for the rehabilitation of key roads, particularly the federal highways, across the country to save lives and give a boost to the economy.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the call was necessitated by the worsening state of the roads, which had led to rising accidents, deaths, injuries, armed robberies and loss of precious man-hours. It said the master plan would show that the Jonathan administration would not go the way of its predecessors, all of which merely paid a lip service to road rehabilitation, and would be a signal to the incoming Works Minister that what was needed was action, not tears.
ACN listed some of the worse hit highways as the Benin-Ore Highway, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Enugu-Onitsha Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, Enugu-Abakaliki Road and Enugu-Markudi Road. Others are Abakaliki-Afikpo Road, Owerri-Port Harcourt Road, Aba-Akwa Ibom Road, Umuahia-Ekot Ekpene and Lokoja-Abuja Road.
As a first step, the party called on President Jonathan to personally embark on an inspection tour of some of the roads, as a symbolic gesture that he understands and shares the pains of his compatriots, who daily ply these roads, and that his administration is indeed poised to act. It said while all the roads listed were important, special attention should be paid to the Benin-Ore Road and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, in view of their economic importance to all Nigerians.
On the Benin-Ore Road, ACN said the administration must show that it could go beyond what a newspaper had described as ‘comic relief’ provided by a former Works Minister, who broke down in tears after inspecting the road, and promised that the Federal Government would act, only to end up doing nothing while the suffering on the road even intensified.
On the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the party lamented that the road that was once a showpiece had become the most visible example of the worsening infrastructural decay in the country resulting from years of bad and irresponsible governance. “The 120-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as well as the Benin-Ore Road are Nigeria’s most vital roads, considering they are the main links between the country’s economic nerve centre and the rest of the country. Yet they have been left to rot away.
“‘Now, no thanks to their uneven surface, craters that can swallow trucks and several failed portions, the roads are fast becoming monuments of shame, where death is cheap and delay is routine,” it said.It said while the Yar’Adua administration gave out the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to Bi-Courtney Highway in 2009, with the work expected to last four years, nothing had been done since then beyond a well-publicised inauguration in August of that year and the mobilisation of a few road construction equipment to some parts of the road.
“We do not have the full details of this concession agreement and, honestly, this is not our main concern here. The issue is that a government that believes it has the mandate of Nigerians to govern should not wait a day longer to do whatever is necessary to end the deaths and the suffering on this all-important road,” the party said.ACN commended the media for focusing attention on the state of the nation’s decaying roads, and urged all concerned to emulate the media by doing their own part to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians.