By Alhassan A. Bala
Excellent infrastructure is the backbone and chief driver of socio-economic development, which every country strives to achieve. And transportation is at the forefront of any infrastructure development of any nation.
Its vitality is such that it serves a multi-faced functions in that it helps to connect people, drive commerce, boost economy and beautify a nation, to mention but a few.
Efficient transport system therefore reduces costs in many economic sectors by providing better accessibility to markets, increasing employment, bringing in foreign investment and improving global presence of countries. Transport carries an important social, economic and environmental load, to view it wholly.
But in Nigeria the issue of bad state of road infrastructure is such that to pronounce it a national disaster, is to say the least.
There is hardly any part of the country that can brag of motorable roads more especially the Federal government’s own highways.
Statistics abound about the number of fatal accidents on our roads in all parts.
From January 2017 to date hundreds of lives were lost to accidents in the road. For instance, on Friday 10th February, 2017 alone, about 22 lives were lost in the Kano-Kaduna road.
Millions of naira has been lost as properties and vehicles destroyed.
And it is an undisputable fact that Kano is the centre of commerce of the North and second largest in the country. People all over troop to purchase and transact businesses and transport the goods to Kaduna, Abuja, Niger, Nasarawa and even Kogi, making use of the road on a daily basis.
Be that as it may, the unfortunate part of all this is there is no functional train service as a mode of transportation between Kano and Kaduna which would have reduced the loss of lives and properties as well as pressure on the road.
Works and Power Minister, Babatunde Fashola in a statement while marking his one year in office said expansion and rehabilitation work on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway would be completed soon. But Kano- Kaduna road has been in bad state without even the slightest show of concern from the political office holders from either Kano or Jigawa states or the federal government.
Despite the fact that Kano state boasts of having the chairman senate committee on works, senator Kabiru Gaya, Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, among others, who even individually, may collectively, could affect the rehabilitation of the road!
Although the Federal road maintenance agency zonal Director in February said five roads would be rehabilitated in Kano State at the cost of over N720 million, which will see roads like the Kano-Gwarzo-Dayi, Tiga-Doguwa, Karaye-Rogo, Lajawa-Gamarya-Masuba and Kwanar Maroko-Maroko roads being accorded the long overdue attention.
But it is surprising that the ministry has forgotten the main highway that connects the state with people coming from north central and southern part of the country.
In the past, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, used to fix the potholes in the federal roads but they have now found themselves handicapped with finances and therefore no longer effect such repairs.
Recently, some youth from the state have called on some notable persons to contribute money for the rehabilitation of the road. This move is be commendable but on the other side, condemnable as the youth should put pressure on the federal government and relevant government agencies in the rehabilitation of the road as it is the duty of the government to provide all infrastructures for the citizens.
If Federal government can continue to rehabilitate roads in the southern part of the country, as we have seen the minister is doing, the saying goes thus: ‘what is good for the goose is good for gander’.
After all, there is no road that is not economically viable, since that has been Fashola’s benchmark in discharging his national duty. All states have economically viable federal roads and therefore, distribution of projects should be even.