As we mark the 60th Anniversary Day, the record-setting, mega roadways infrastructure development projects by the Buhari administration numbering up to 600 that are undergoing major upgradation or rehabilitation call for public attention and appreciation.
The size and magnitude of the road projects notwithstanding, the clamour by Nigerians for more motorable roads is not abating, and neither is the President Muhammadu Buhari Government’s commitment to delivering on an improved national road network, which it inherited at different stages of disrepair from previous administrations. When there is a will, as the adage goes, there will be a way or two.
Since 2015, the Buhari administration has done more than its predecessors to rehabilitate Federal Roads despite other competing infrastructural funding needs.
For an Administration willed to funding numerous other critical national infrastructure projects aimed at economic self-reliance and increased domestic output, it is indeed commendable how the Buhari Administration devised economically sound fiscal strategies to fund the redevelopment of various Federal Highways, including those nearing completion.
A quality road network being the most critical component of a national multimodal transportation plan is the foundation of a thriving economy. Good roads link up the national socioeconomic arteries, centres and hubs.
People move about and perform everyday activities, mostly by road. It is also by the road that people go to earn a living, farm, or access other transportation modals like rail, air, and water.
Essential social services such as education, healthcare, hospitality, community integration, neighbourhood security, religious and private interactions are majorly accessed by roads. A quality road network is therefore the mainstay of any thriving economy.
Nigeria’s 108,000km of surfaced roads of which those categorised as Federal Roads make up 32,000km or 18 per cent had steadily deteriorated in the period preceding this administration through a combination of official neglect, a poor maintenance culture, and perhaps more fundamentally, the absence of a legal and policy framework for private sector participation in funding, management and maintenance of Federal Highways.
Some of the 600 on-going federal road projects whose completion will immediately impact economic activities include the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway, which is being reconstructed as a concrete road, for the first time since it was built 40 years ago. This vital economic gateway can be likened to the nation’s spinal cord, the backbone of our import and export business.
When this road is choked and vehicular traffic snarls in gridlock, as it often is, the economy of Nigeria, and indeed the entire West African region, is effectively paralysed. The Buhari Administration is committed to reconstructing the Expressway to benefit national and regional economic development. Both the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway and the Bodo-Bonny Bridges and Road, (which was conceived in the 1980s, but actual construction started in 2017), were executed under the Executive Order 7 projects.