•Declare emergency on Nigerian roads, NUPENG tells FG
Ifeanyi Onuba and Okechukwu Nnodim
The Federal Government on Thursday said it had invested N260bn in roads across the country in the past three years.
According to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the funds were expended on the road sector between 2015 and 2018.
Fashola disclosed this in his keynote address at the 4th Quadrennial Delegates’ Conference of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers in Abuja.
The minister stated that under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Federal Government, about N300bn had been committed to Nigerian roads, stressing that it was one thing to have a plan, and another to commit to the faithful implementation of the plan.
He said, “If you think this is not important, let me remind you that in 2015, only N18bn was budgeted for all Nigerian roads in the Ministry of Works. Only N9bn was funded at the time when Nigeria’s oil was selling at close to $100 per barrel.
“This was at the time of the Transformation Agenda, when commitment fell significantly behind stated objectives. But what has changed under the ERGP is that the Buhari government has committed close to N300bn to roads, and funded about N260bn at a time when oil prices are manifestly below the 2015 figures.”
The minister, who told his listeners that he had yet to start his campaign for the current government, stated that the action points and achievements of the current administration were not accidental.
“On the contrary, they reveal a clear thinking and understanding of what must be done to rebuild our economy and underline the interconnectivity between availability of quality infrastructure and the delivery of energy from petroleum products to drive our economy,” he added.
Fashola said the results of road construction by the government would mean reduced journey time, adding that activities on the roads were been revived, as contractors had returned to various project sites.
The minister stated, “Although there is a very long list of critical roads that support petroleum distribution, I cannot fail to mention the recent award of the Ikorodu-Shagamu Road that services the Mosimi Depot, where work will soon commence.
“Similarly, our ministry is working to finalise the procurement and award of the Apapa, Tin Can, Mile 2, Oshodi to Oworonshoki highway.”
He added, “I just returned from road project inspection in Kebbi and Jigawa states last night, where our contractors informed me that bitumen producers and suppliers were now struggling to cope with demand.
“These are clear signs of a business boom and employment not only for transporters of the products like your members, but also for the manufacturers.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers on Thursday called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the country’s roads so as to reduce the huge number of lives and property being lost to accidents due to the bad state of the roads.
The National President, NUPENG, Williams Akporeha, noted that although the current administration had been working hard to properly fix the highways, a lot still needed to be done.
Speaking at the delegates’ conference, Akporeha explained that the growth and development of a country lies in an effective transportation system.
The NUPENG president said since most people in Nigeria depended on road transport for movement of goods and services, there was a need for the government to address the dilapidated state of the roads to meet the rising demand of users.
He stated, “We know the present regime has been working hard to properly fix our highways, but a lot still has to be done.
“We earnestly call on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on Nigerian roads so as to attract urgent attention, as no economy thrives without good roads and effective transportation system.”
Fashola, who spoke at the event said that excessive speeding by motorists remained the greatest cause of road crashes across the country.
This, be noted, was contrary to the popular belief that the poor state of the roads was the major culprit.
The minister stated that while the poor state of the roads accounted for less than 10 per cent of accidents, more than 75 per cent of recorded accidents were fallouts of excessive speeding by motorists.
Fashola noted that the Federal Road Safety Corps regularly availed him of statistics on road accidents.
According to him, contrary to the erroneous belief that bad roads are responsible for the highest number of road crashes, excessive speeding by motorists is to blame for most of the incidents.
The minister pointed out that besides speeding, other factors, including breach of traffic rules, were responsible for road accidents in the country.
The minister noted that a lot of lives would be saved if motorists adhered to traffic rules and avoid excessive speeding.
In his address titled ‘Roads in Nigeria and the Impact of Petroleum Products Distribution’, Fashola noted that the contributions of tanker drivers to the economy could not be discountenanced.