The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola(SAN) on Wednesday stated that Nigerian roads were not bad as often portrayed.
Fashola, who spoke after the Federal Executive Council(FEC) meeting, said reports on the poor state of the country’s roads were exagerated.
At the FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the federal government approved N58.4billion 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.
While dismissing reports on the bad state of highways in the country, Fashola said: “The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. 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 in the country would have been long completed.
He also stated that some parts of the country faced peculiar issues like high water table, which he said made construction in the rainy season difficult.
The minister mentioned the South East and the South South as the areas with such difficulties, adding that the ministry and contractors are waiting patiently for the rains to subside so that they could return to sites.
Reacting to Fashola’s assessment of the roads, the Chairman, Infrastructure Development Committee, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(MAN), Ibrahim Usman, said dismissed Fashola’s comments
He said: “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.”
He said his cars could no longer ply the roads and he had to park them.
Usman 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.
Also,the Director General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association(NECA), Mr. Timothy Olawale, opined that the minister might not be plying the same roads as other Nigerians.
He described the Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomoso road as a very good example of the terrible situation of Nigerian roads.
“The huge craters along the Oyo-Ogbomoso road can swallow vehicles. These are roads that were manageable before but they have gone completely bad. People spend hours on that expressway because of tankers that fall into the craters.
“The sad thing is that the government is not doing any kind of palliative work on the roads,”he lamented.
Olawale said he also travelled by road from Asaba to Enugu, stressing that he saw the same deplorable road situation.
“To say that the road between Asaba and Enugu is bad is an understatement'” he said.
“I think the minister is not in touch with reality. He needs to speak with his road maintenance engineers and get information about the true situation of Nigerian roads.”
In the same vein, the Ogun State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, disagreed with the minister.
The Deputy President of the chamber, Wasiu Olaleye, said Nigerian roads were “nothing to write home about.”
He advised the minister to travel on some roads in Ogun State and beyond, adding that it was difficult to cite any good road in the country.
“The roads in Nigeria are nothing to write home about because, when you look at the road we are using; the Lagos-Sango-Abeokuta road, I was told by one of my members yesterday that a section of that road from Itori to Papa, you can’t even try to move in that part with vehicle at all.
“A friend also just sent a message that he spent about three to four hours on that road on Saturday night and he even posted it on social media.
“I entered there 6am, I came back at 11, so, what is he saying? I want to say that he should make himself available and travel on our roads with the leadership of business organisations like NACCIMA and MAN. He should therefore go to Agbara and travel from Agbara to Atan then he comes back to Sango.
“He should travel from Abeokuta through Ifo to Sango and at the same time Ajah, Epe then back to Ijebu-Ode,” Olaleye stated.
Assessing other roads within the country, Olaleye said:“A member of the chamber that travelled from Abuja to Minna. I called him, he said the same thing.
“The road from Abuja to Minna is also bad. I don’t know any road you can talk about. If you are going to Abuja from Abeokuta, your heart will be in your mouth because of the state of the road. When you get to Ife-Ibadan Expressway, you will see what is there,”he added.