‘Deplorable’ is the word that readily comes to mind when one considers the state of some of the roads motorists ply on daily basis. The word may even be an understatement on sighting the level of structural degradations on these roads. These degradations- which are usually accelerated or made more profound during rainy seasons- have left some of these roads in a state of abandonment thus making a shipwreck of a route that is meant to benefit the masses. This, in effect, results in traffic congestion on certain routes as motorists are limited to the pliable routes that there are. And in situations where the damages are repaired, they are sometimes finished to a substandard quality and it takes only a few years- or months- before the roads give way again.
More disheartening is the fact that some of these bad roads have led to multiple accidents and loss of lives and it remains to be seen how long these wastes [of lives and resources] will go on for as those saddled with the responsibility of putting things right turn blind eye. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) identified bad roads as one of the three (3) causes of accidents on Nigerian roads- the others being ‘error of judgment’ and disregard for traffic regulations.
But things could have been better
About 10 years ago, I remember seeing dignitaries making their way to a conference centre around the Faculty of Engineering in the University of Lagos. After probing to know what was up in the air, I realized that an erudite scholar in person of Professor Ebenezer Meshida, has done something laudable in seeking a way to ensure the stabilization of the roads in Nigeria. In layman’s term as I understood then, his finding- or shall I say product- is such that will not make soil to dissolve in water. I later got to know that the product is called ‘Lateralite’. Further check on Professor Meshida showed that he had been carrying out his research on Nigerian roads for over twenty-five (25) years as at then; having put a particular route- which was said to have lasted over 100 years- in the UK into consideration.
What is however puzzling is the manner with which some of the politicians [in office then] whom he (Prof. Meshida) had met on the need to incorporate Lateralite into the roads, made light of the suggestion. The reason for that- as you might have guessed- was based on protecting their selfish interest.
Years have rolled by, and the state of our roads has rarely been improved upon; notwithstanding, we keep hearing of recurring expenses on infrastructural developments- of which the construction and maintenance of roads are major aspects- that do not stand the test of time.
Professor Meshida eventually got a consolation for his efforts by winning the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Prize for Science in 2008 but I sternly believe that the Professor of Engineering Geology would have taken more pride in seeing that the roads around the country are devoid of any dent or structural collapse thereby making the destabilization of our roads a thing of the past.
It is obvious that the continual existence of bad and/or degrading roads is not because of the lack of resources or manpower [to do a perfect job on them] but rather due to the failure and/or short-sightedness of some persons- who are meant to put the masses first- to do what is right.