Navigating a Path to Progress: A Scrutiny of Nigeria’s Extensive But Dilapidated Road Network
Nigeria Has The Largest Most Dilapidated Road Network In West Africa
Despite boasting the most extensive roadway network in West Africa, stretching approximately 108,000km, Nigeria is plagued by a paradox of possession and condition, wherein its roads rank among the most dilapidated within the region. This alarming discrepancy has been meticulously chronicled in a profound study conducted by SBM Intelligence.
Ikemesit Effiong, the principal analyst at SBM Intel, sheds light on the extensive repercussions of this infrastructure crisis. He argues that the appalling condition of the roads acts as a cultural barrier, leading to disparate development across regions and impeding the nation’s cultural integration and identity formation. Effiong implores, “For a country to cultivate a unified national identity and to foster the exchange of cultural values and ideas, a robust and efficient roadway system is imperative.”
Economic and Human Cost
The ramifications of the deplorable road network extend beyond cultural fragmentation to grave economic and human consequences. Nigeria witnesses a hemorrhage of economic value, running into billions of naira, and the tragic loss of numerous lives to avoidable accidents. The dilapidated roads stand testament to government apathy, as billions of naira allocated annually for road construction and maintenance seemingly vanish into thin air, leaving citizens grappling for better and more roadways.
A meticulous survey conducted in September encompassed forty-five drivers from as many transport companies in Abuja and Lagos. The survey yielded insights into 102 instances of road travel routes, painting a bleak picture of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. An alarming 71% of surveyed drivers assert a noticeable degradation in road conditions over the past five years, highlighting infamous stretches such as the Kabba-Kafanchan and the Benin bypass, as chronicles of neglect and decay.
Citizen Perceptions and Experiences
Perspectives from road travelers in states including Abuja, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, and Ondo resonate with the experiences of the drivers. Approximately 58% of respondents perceive a decline in road conditions over the past five years. These harrowing experiences elucidate the deep-seated public dissatisfaction and frustration with the degrading state of public infrastructure.
Impact on Livelihoods
The study delineates the profound impact of deteriorating roads on the livelihoods of drivers, especially regarding vehicle maintenance. The escalating vehicle maintenance costs, necessitated by frequent breakdowns due to poor road conditions, are inevitably transferred to the commuters, depicting a ripple effect of the infrastructure crisis on the common man. This situation also illuminates the increasing strain on drivers’ incomes, highlighting a stark reality of diminishing returns in their profession.
Inflation of Travel Costs
An in-depth comparison of the current travel costs with those from five years ago reveals a staggering increase in fares, ranging between 41% and 60% across the surveyed routes. This surge underscores the cascading effect of the infrastructure debacle on the economic fabric of society, straining the already stretched budgets of the citizenry.
A Symbol of National Decay
Nigeria’s roadways serve as a glaring symbol of the persistent decline and decay of public infrastructure across the nation. The elite, rather than championing the revitalization of these vital lifelines, have adopted a strategy of insulation and avoidance, resorting to fortified vehicles and air travel even for negligible distances. This attitude illustrates a deeply entrenched disconnect between the elite and the populace’s struggles, accentuating the urgency for structural and attitudinal transformation.
The Underutilization of Alternatives
The study also highlights the underutilization of Nigeria’s waterways and the glaring underdevelopment of the rail system, which places an unsustainable burden on the roadways for transporting people, goods, and services across the nation. This situation accentuates the multidimensional infrastructure challenges facing the country, necessitating a holistic approach to infrastructural development.
A Call for Systematic Analysis and Implementation
SBM Intel, in its report, underscores the imperative for the government to embark on a meticulous system needs analysis before delving into the repair or construction of roads. This approach would enable the alignment of road repair plans with the prevailing realities, ensuring the effective and sustainable implementation of developed plans.
Nigeria, enveloped in a dichotomy of possessing extensive yet dilapidated roadways, stands at a crossroads. The current state of its roads not only impedes cultural integration and national identity formation but also inflicts severe economic and human costs. The widespread dissatisfaction among citizens, the strain on drivers’ livelihoods, and the inflation of travel costs portray a nation in dire need of infrastructural revitalization.