I travelled to my village in Benue state at the end of last year and one major observation, is that I would put the state of the roads on top of my list, before any other factor if I were in the position to give a report on what the likely causes of accidents might be, which is at an astoundingly high rate.
We got into Benue State and went through Makurdi; but after Makurdi, some parts of the road were in a worse state than I could remember. The road from Gwer local government area (LGA) to Aliade LGA and Taraku LGA were horrible. If we were talking only about pot holes, that might have been less grave, but I am talking about deep pot holes that have also eroded.
Certain parts of the road were not motorable and drivers on that side would have to swerve into the other lane of oncoming vehicles to avoid any tragedy. This, in itself, is extremely risky but drivers are left with no choice.
That brings me to another point…I am yet to understand why some federal roads are not dualised! It’s just one strip, so people going in both directions know to be on their side of the road. No dividers, nothing. This makes it pretty easy for countless accidents to happen. Between Otukpo and Otomi (where there is a Federal Government College), the erosion is epic. A part of the road has been eroded into one lane!
The body I have constantly heard reports from over the news regarding road accidents is the Federal Road Safety Commission. In all those reports, I have often heard of the high number of accidents and the most common reasons are usually over speeding and bad tyres. While these are in fact true, I don’t remember hearing any emphasis on bad roads in the reports.
I looked on the website and the first thing that caught my attention was the slogan, “creating a safe motoring environment in Nigeria” which in essence would be safe roads right? I looked through the website for reports and an implementation plan of this slogan but I did not find any.
The last report was a 2013 mid-term report under the Performance Score Card tab. This report reflected more of an internal strategy on how to improve things in the Commission which is great, but should there not be reports on incidents and recommendations?
Might there be another government agency that does this?
The Federal Government on the other hand has so many issues to tackle and it is impossible for them to be omnipresent. Law makers cannot be in Abuja and know what the state of things are everywhere around the country. This is where I believe the state and local governments should come in. I wonder whether the maintenance of roads going through each state cannot be left for the state governments to handle? That way, the local government will also be accountable to the state such that it can call the state’s attention where necessary and as soon as possible. Having to go through long bureaucratic processes at the federal level before it gets to the state in question causes such long delays, if the process is eventually approved.
This is not peculiar to Benue state, it cuts across different states in the country. A friend of mine just returned from Ilorin in Kwara State and she wrote to me about how unsafe she felt on the road and to put it mildly, she wrote that the roads to Ilorin demand that certain governors should no longer be in their positions.
One result of accidents on these roads is that it leads to traffic as the roads are not wide. We ran into traffic on our way back somewhere in Nasarawa state. The traffic had built and was far behind from the accident scene. The villagers at the location were kind to divert drivers through an alternative route in their village, giving the FRSC time to clear the road.
I have never been to the Eastern part of Nigeria and it is something I have been looking forward to for some time. The Abuja airport is likely to be closed for renovation at the time I intend to travel so that will leave me with no option than to go by road. Going to Kaduna airport (which will be the alternative airport for flight operations) to make that trip will be tedious I imagine. I have already started making enquiries and I am almost certain that I might have comments about the roads. But I am looking forward to seeing how the trip will be.
Please note that not all roads in Nigeria are bad, but there is a good number of them that are.
What have your experiences been travelling by road in Nigeria? And how can we call the necessary authorities to account for our roads to be fixed?
I have refrained from posting photos of bad roads or accident scenes, but there are numerous photos online which are not pretty, I must warn you.