WORLD BANK AID FOR ROADS SECTOR
It is encouraging that the World Bank has concluded arrangements to invest $300 million on the development of Nigerian roads. This was disclosed in Abuja recently, when the Programme Coordinator, Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) of the bank, Mrs. Tawia Addo-Ashong, visited the Corps Marshall and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. Osita Chidoka, as part of the World Bank Review of Road Safety Management Capacity in Nigeria.
According to her, the gesture was aimed at reducing the staggering number of deaths and injuries on Nigerian roads. It will also elevate their status to meet international standards. It is expected, too, that the facility will help the government in the development of Nigerian roads. Addo-Ashong pointed out that the investment strategy would be developed through short, medium and long-term initiatives that will make Nigerian roads safe.
There is, indeed, no doubt that the number of deaths on roads, globally, is steeply on the increase. Majority of these deaths, unfortunately, occur in developing countries, where roads are in bad condition.
Available figures from the GRSF confirm the staggering statistics of road accidents around the world. For instance, about 1.2 million people lose their lives to road accidents, annually, with 90 per cent of the figure coming from the developing world.
The body is of the view that if the trend continues, road accidents, especially in Africa, will become the second leading cause of death by the year 2030. It explained that this was the major reason the global financial institution set up the facility to strengthen country capacity to support sustainable death reduction and injuries on roads.
The decision by the bank to invest the huge amount on Nigerian roads is commendable. It is coming at a very auspicious time when most Nigerian roads are in very deplorable condition, and pose serious danger to users.
The proposal on paper is good and we hope that the actual work will equally meet our expectation. If the money is actually utilized on our roads, Nigeria and Nigerians will be better for it. We enjoin the bank and those in charge of the project to ensure that the money earmarked is judiciously used.
There is the need to ensure that the money is strictly used for the purpose it is meant. Good enough, the bank has been working with Nigeria in some other sectors. It should bring its experience to bear on the roads project.
Government should prioritize the roads on which the money will be invested. Emphasis should be mostly on areas that need opening up like the agricultural rural settings that lack access roads through which farmers can bring their food products to the market. Lack of good rural roads has hampered agricultural development. Government should ensure that areas where food production is thriving are provided with good roads to enhance evacuation of agricultural products.
Government at the three tiers should also endeavour to complement the World Bank's effort by investing in infrastructural development of their various areas, especially roads. Road development in Nigeria should be taken seriously as it is in other lands. There is no way we can achieve economic development without a network of good roads.
Government spends so much on roads yet we cannot boast of good roads. Roads constructed during the dry season tend to cave in, in the next rainy season. This calls to question the quality of such roads. As long as we continue to tolerate shoddy construction work, we will always have bad roads.
Nigerians have paid dearly for dilapidated roads. Many are killed, annually, and some seriously wounded in road accidents that would have been avoided if the roads had been in good shape. We have had enough of the mindless carnage on our roads. Let the roads be put in a good condition.