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Bad roads at Yuletide – New Telegraph

By The Citizen

Yuletide is here again, usually it is a time to make merry in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who rose from a manger in Bethlehem to change the globe through Christianity.

For millions of travellers in Nigeria, the road to Christmas is paved with demons, craters and blood. Many homes are forced into agony on account of deaths through traffic accidents.

It is an undisputable fact that reckless driving is a contributory factor to the mass deaths that occur on our highways during this festive season. At least , we can confirm that from the Federal Road Safety Commission's [FRSC] point of view.

The painful truth is that the Federal Government of Nigeria is the major cause of deaths on our roads. It is unimaginable anywhere in the world where civilisations means what it is, that those who manage the affairs of a country will earmark money for road construction and the road remains a death trap without anybody going to jail for mass murder. The state of Nigerian roads will get the devil drunk with blood.

For a country which has been free from massive scales of natural disaster, road crashes account for more loss of lives than earthquakes in India, tsunami in Japan or hurricane in the United States.

We shall single out the Sagamu- Ore Expressway. It is the busiest road in Nigeria at this time of the year. Travellers from Lagos, the business capital, to at least four of the six geo-political zones of the country must make use of that route.

There are millions of them moving to the South -West [Ogun,Ondo], South-South, South-East and North -Central [Benue] areas. Lagos because of its commercial weight, carries the dreams and aspirations of millions of compatriots who rush in search of their daily bread.

The road from Sagamu in Ogun State to Ore in Ondo State tells a sad story of a country so blessed yet those who have had the responsibility of managing these resources abandoned the citizens to a cruel fate. Driving out of Lagos through the Lagos -Ibadan Expressway is enough stress.

We could blame it on gridlock caused by the legion of churches that dot the road and the endless reconstruction work facilitated by government to continue to punish travelers.

The journey from Sagamu heralds the begining of a trip to hell. The best way to destroy a brand new automobile is to test it on the Sagamu-Ore Road. Dead on arrival will be the name of that product for there are holes, bumps, craters, armed robbers, kidnappers, ritualists, deadly checkpoints and other hindrances.

A trip that should take about 90 minutes, stretches to 24 hours and more simply because the same government that has been collecting taxes from millions of struggling folks does not care about the lives of the citizens.

Today, there is a Minister of Works and his name is Babatunde Raji Fashola. He was governor of Lagos State between 2007 and 2015. In this period of kleptomania coated as democracy, Fashola was able to affect Lagos positively even if we are not in a position to beatify him. Fashola took the bull by the horns and achieved results.

Oshodi seemed to be the permanent headquarters of hell until he dared the demons that erected high rise structures of bedlam. Today, thanks to Fashola, Oshodi has been restored to mankind.

That is exactly what the works minister must do before travelers begin the journey across Sagamu-Ore Road. Fashola has no business anywhere else, he must not go to bed.

There is the urgent patriotic need to relocate to J4 to monitor work on site. All the energy in him must be used to change the situation. Fashola is not new to the road because he studied Law at the University of Benin.

And we are reminding him the responsibility to fix that road. President Muhammadu Buhari promised to ease the burden of travelers during his campaign in 2015. Nigerians have not forgotten.

The Buhari administration will not take all the blame. Past administrations from the military, failed the nation. It is unfortunate that some of the past works ministers whose kith and kin died on the road were unable to achieve results.

Politicians and bureaucrats like Chief Tony Anenih, Chief Mike Onolomemen, Chief Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, served and left the highway the way they met it. Billions of Naira were budgeted and there were allegations that a particular President used such money to fund his re-election. Mrs Madueke assumed office ready to work.

Her first visit to the road in orange overall was remarkable as she broke down. Her tears almost a decade ago will be nothing compared the blood of Nigerians that flow there regularly.

We urge Fashola to take this task as a national responsibility. Whatever logic or strategy he applied in fixing Oshodi must come in handy now. The Sagamu-Ore Expressway is a big shame.

It is unthinkable that in 2015 Nigeria, such a major highway exists. This kind of road could be found in Aleppo or Mosul, not Nigeria.