The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola [SAN], has insisted that Nigerian roads were not that bad as often portrayed, a statement the Chairman, Infrastructure Development Committee, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria [MAN], Ibrahim Usman, described as untrue.
Speaking shortly after the Federal Executive Council [FEC] meeting, on Wednesday, Fashola said reports on the poor state of the country’s roads were mere hypes.
The FEC meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. The meeting approved N58.4bn for the construction of Bida-Sachi-Nupeko road and the Nupeko-Patigi Bridge across River Niger, linking Nupeko and Patigi in Niger and Kwara states.
The PUNCH had on June 24, reported that federal roads were in a terrible state of disrepair. According to the report, the bad state of the roads has been aiding bandits and herdsmen, who kill and kidnap travellers in impassable spots on the highways.
Some of the roads listed included the 110-kilometre-Gusau-Dansadau Road in Zamfara State; the Oyo-Iseyin road in Oyo State and the Makurdi-Gboko-Katsina Alla-Zaki Biam Road, which links Benue State to Taraba State.
Speaking to State House Correspondents on Wednesday, Fashola, while dismissing reports on the bad state of the highways said,
“The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed,” he said.
“I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad.”
The minister explained that, but for funding challenges, most road projects would have been long completed.
Fashola also stated that some parts of the country faced peculiar issues like the high water table, which made construction in the rainy season difficult.
He mentioned the South-East and the South-South among areas with such difficulties.
The minister added that the ministry and contractors were waiting patiently for the rains to subside so that they could return to sites.
But Usman disagrees, saying,
“I think the minister is being economical with the truth. The roads are terrible. Take for instance the Biu to Gombe road that took one-and-a-half hours in the past to ply, now it takes four hours to get from Biu to Gombe. The luck we have is that Boko Haram has not stuck on that road.
“Another terrible road is the Damaturu-Biu road. That also takes four hours when in the past it took less than two hours.That was where military trucks and equipment were seized and taken into the bush by bandits some weeks back. At least if the roads are good, cars can move with speed but when the roads are terrible, movement is difficult and it is easy for robbers to attack.”
Usman said his cars could no longer ply the roads and he had to park them.
He said he recently travelled from Lagos to Cotonou where he spent three hours getting to Cotonou but from Cotonou to Lome, he did not find a single pothole and the trip took less than the length of time it took to go from Lagos to Cotonou.