Vice President Yomi Osinbajo’s recent acknowledgement that the worst problem plaguing the people of the South-East geo-political zone is the failed network of roads cannot be faulted. Also, his admission that the situation required urgent Federal Government’s attention is most commendable and a good thing for the country. We enjoin other government officials to emulate his good example.
Osinbajo, who attended a wedding at the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, Anglican Communion, Enugu, also said that he has already discussed the problem with the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. He also stressed that the problem was not strange to the Federal Government.
Now that the Vice President has identified the problem which has adversely affected the economy of the region, the next thing the government should do is to marshal out elaborate plans to tackle it headlong. It is one thing to identify a problem and another thing to solve it. There is no doubt that rebuilding the bad roads in the South-East will go a long way in stimulating economic activities in the region.
And since we have an administration that made rehabilitation of dilapidated road infrastructure part of its campaign promises, there is hope that the South-East roads and others in the country will soon receive government’s prompt attention.
Although we are aware of the financial constraints facing the government in view of the dwindling fortunes of the oil revenue, nevertheless, government should devise means to address the dilapidated Federal Government roads in the region.
It is not controvertible that almost all the Federal Government’s roads in the South-East are in decrepit condition. However, the worst are the Onitsha-Enugu, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressways, the Owerri-Port Har- court and Owerri-Aba roads.
While it is not in dispute that roads in the South-East, especially the Federal Government ones, are in their worst conditions ever, we enjoin the government to also look beyond the region in its road rehabilitation plan.
Other roads that require such urgent attention include the Mokwa Jebba, Shagamu-Ore Expressways and Benin-Auchi-Okene-Lokoja road. States and Local Governments across the country should also wake up and rehabilitate many of their roads that are in bad shape.
The need to address the worsening condition of roads in the country could not have come at a better time than now. We say this bearing in mind the strong linkage between good roads and economic development. In fact, economic activities are stimulated where the roads are in good condition.
Our dilapidated road infrastructure is a great disincentive to both local and foreign investors. Apart from our bad roads being linked with numerous avoidable deaths due to accidents, it hampers the movement of goods and services in the country. Most local farm products are allowed to rot away in the farms simply be- cause the access roads to the farms are not in good condition.
While it is imperative to fix the bad roads, at the same time, we advise the government to improve on other modes of transport such as water- ways and railways. This has become necessary in view of the pressure exerted on roads by heavy vehicular traffic. If the nation’s railway system is made to be efficient and working, it will definitely reduce the pressure on roads as most of the goods that are now transported from one part of the country to the other on roads should have been moved through the railways. Similarly, the development of the water transportation system in the country will significantly less- en the burden placed on our roads.
While we wait for the government to commence the reconstruction of its bad roads in the country, we call on the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) urgently to fix the bad portions of these roads.
Let Federal, State and Local Governments work in concert to rehabilitate all their dilapidated roads forthwith. That is the only way accelerated economic development of the country can be ensured.