2017: Still a long walk home – The Nation Newspaper
How did transportation fare in 2017? Nigerians seem to agree that a lot needs to be done, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE
How did the transportation sector perform in the outgone year? The narrative for many Nigerians remained largely the same, with huge road infrastructure deficit starring across the country.
State of roads?
The Federal Government’s star road projects, among them the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which was the nation’s busiest and ‘most lucrative’, remained untouched despite the lip commitment to completion in 2017.
The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway wasn’t the only one abandoned in 2017. Fory-four other highway constructions, 66 roads and 45 bridges scattered across 34 states listed by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing (PWH) Babatunde Fashola, remained largely the same way they were two years ago.
These roads include: Kano-Katsina Road (Phase 1: Kano Town at Dawanau Roundabout to Katsina State Border); Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Yauri Road; Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani Road; Ilorin-Kabba-Obajana Road (Sections 1&11); Ibadan-Ilorin Road, Section11 (Oyo-Ogbomosho); Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway, Sections 1&11; Lagos-Otta Road; Apapa/Tincan Port, NNPC Depot (Atlas Cove) to Mile 2 Access Road; Apapa-Oshodi Road; Third Mainland Bridge; Apapa/Tincan Island Port-NNPC Depot Access Road; Benin-Ofosu-Ore Ajebandele-Shagamu Road; Obajana Junction-Benin Road Phase 2: (Sections i-iv); and Sapele-Ewu Road Sections 1&11 Second Niger Bridge; Onitsha-Enugu Expressway (Amansea-Enugu State Border); Yenegoa Road Junction-Kolo-Otueke-Bayelsa Palm and Bodo-Bonny Road with Bridge. Odukpani-Itu-(Spur Ididep-Itam)-Ikot- Ekpene Federal Highway Sections 1&11.
Others are Ikom Bridge; Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Sections I-IV; Calabar-Ugep-Katsina Ala Road; Vandeikya-Obudu-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road; Oshegbudu-Oweto Road, Oju/Loko-Oweto Bridge with approach roads; Nasarawa-Loko Road, Abuja-Lokoja Road Sections I&IV; Suleja-Minna Road Section 11. Kaduna Eastern Bypass; Kano-Maiduguri Road Section 1-1V; Hadejia-Nguru-Gashua-Bayamari Road and Kano Western Bypass.
Those listed as critical economic routes include: Zaria-Kano Road, Abuja-Lokoja Road (Sections I-IV); Ilorin-Jebba-Bokani Road, Ibadan-Ilorin Road (Sections 1&11); Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Road (Sections1&11); Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Shagamu Road; Obajana-Benin Road (Sections I-IV). Also on the list are: Onitsha-Enugu Road (Section 1&11); Enugu-Port Harcourt Road (Sections I-IV); Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Road (Section1); Calabar-Ugep-Katsina Ala Road (Sections 1&11); Alesi-Ugup (Iyamoyung-Ugup) Road; Ogoja (Mbok Junction) Abuochichie Road; Otukpo Township Road; Kano-Maiduguri Road (Sections I-V); Kaduna-Zaria Road and Kaduna-Katsina Road.
Also listed for repairs by the minister are roads across the nation’s agricultural belt: Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontangora-Makera Road (Sections 1&11); Makurdi-Naka-Ndoka-Ankpa Road; Akure-Ondo-Ore Road and Benin-Sapele Highway. Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria-Iyanomo Road; 9th Mile-Enugu-Port Harcourt Road; Abakaliki-Afikpo Road Sections 1&11; Mile-Oturkpo-Makurdi Road; Ogboko (Yandev Junction)-Katsina Ala (Ugbema Junction) Road; Wukari-Mutum Biyu-Jalingo-Numan Road; Section 1 Numan Jalingo Road; Gombe-Numan Road; Maiduguri-Dutse and Kano-Zaria Road.
The 63 roads slated for the emergency intervention cut across the six geopolitical zones. North-east: Construction of bridge at km 32 along Billiri-Filliya in Taraba and the repair of Billiri-Filliya Road in Gombe, Potiskum-Agalda-Gombe State Border (S/B) and Potiskum-Kari-Bauchi S/B Road in Yobe State. Also included are: Tella Road and Bridge; Abutment and Apawa-Junction-Zing-Adamawa (State Border) in Taraba State; Bauch-Darazo-Kari Road in Bauchi State; Numan-Lafia-Gombe State Border Road, Numan-Jalingo Road; Numan-Guyuk (Borno State Border); Ngurore-Mayobelwa Road in Adamawa State, all in the Northeast.
In the Northwest are such roads as: Birnin Gwari Road in Kaduna, Kebbi-Argungu-Sokoto (State Border) Road in Kebbi State, Gusau-Chafe-Katsina Road in Zamfara, Rimawa-Sabonbirnin-Niger Republic Road (Section 1), Rimawa-Sabonbirnin-Niger Republic Road (Section 2) and bridge embankment in Sokoto State, Gumel-Mallam Madori-Hadeija Road, Birnin Kudu and Babaldu-Malumuwa-Bauchi S/B Road, among others, in Jigawa,Yayasa Bridge in Kano and Dusinma-Kankara Road in Katsina State.
Northcentral: Makurdi-Lafia Road and Makurdi-Gboko Road in Benue, Okene-Kabba Road and Kabba-Omuo Road in Kogi, Ajase-Offa-Erinle-Osun State Boundary Road in Kwara, Keffi Abuja Road and Keffi-Gittata-Kaduna S/b Road, Nasarawa-Toto-Abaji Road in Nasarawa and Jebba-Mokwa Road, Bida-Lapal-Lambata Road and Makera-Tegina Road in Niger State are listed for repairs
In the Southwest are; Ibillo-Isu-Epinmi-Akungba Road and Owo-Akure Road in Ondo; Ilesa-Ijebu-Ijesa Road, Ijebu-Ijesa-Ekiti S/B and Ibadan-Ile-Ife-Ilesa Road, Osun S/B-Ilesa in Osun, Ibadan-Ile-Ife-Ilesa Road in Oyo, Ijebu-Ode-Epe-Ibadan Road in Ogun and Ikorodu-Shagamu in Lagos.
In the Southeast; Abakaliki-Oferekpe Road in Ebonyi, Nsukka-Adani-Anambra S/B Road in Enugu State, Umuokpor section of Ikot Ekpene-Aba Road in Abia and Ihiala-Orlu-Umuduru Road, Owerri-Okigwe, among others.
For the Southsouth; Ikot Ekpene-Ikot Umoessien-Abia S/B Road in Akwa Ibom, Ebiama-Yenegoa Road in Bayelsa, Auchi-Igarra-Ibillo-Ose Bridge Road and Benin-Ofosu-Shagamu Road in Edo, Ebouchichie-Gakem Road in Cross River, Benin-Asaba Dual Carriageway, Asaba-Illa-Ebu-Edo S/B Road, Igbodo, Benin- Asaba Expressway and Warrri-Sapele-Edo S/b Road in Delta State among others are slated for intervention.
Over 45 bridges, according to the list, are also slated for rehabilitation over the next three years. They include: Two bridges along Sokoto-Gusau Road, Murtala Mohammed Bridge, Koton Karfe, River Ebba to Cheche Bridge, Jebba Bridge, Third Mainland Bridge, Nine Lagos Bridges and flyovers, Lagos Ring Road Bridge Abutment, Ijora 7-Up Bridge, Ijora-Apapa Bridge by Leventis and the burnt Marine Bridge.
Others are Utor Bridge, Niger Bridge at Onitsha/Asaba, Onitsha-Owerri Bridge, Ibagwa Bridge, Ikom Bridge, Itigidi, Makurdi Bridge, Quata Sule Bridge, Katsina Ala Bridge, Buruku Bridge, Abuja-Abaji Bridge Section 11, Loko Owotu Bridge 21. Ibi Bridge, Kudzum Bridge, Gombe-Michika-Maraba Bridge, Gamboru Bridge, Katanko Bridge, Jaji Bridge. Others are, Borno/Adamawa State Border Bridge, Falani Bridge, Sumaila Flyover Bridge at Silver Jubilee and Tambuwal Bridge, in Sokoto.
Though some of these roads and bridges are at various stages of rehabilitation and many others’ fate are still hanging, a transportation scholar and erudite administrator Dr Tajudeen Bawa’Allah, still scored the Federal Government high in its ambitious move to touch every geo-political zone of the nation with one project or the other.
“The Federal Government scored very high marks in my assessment on the transportation sector. While the Ministry of Works is fixing the road infrastructure, the Ministry of transportation is taking bold steps in repositioning the sector,” Bawa’Allah said.
Like last year, he said giant steps have been taken to give the sector the needed fillip, adding that when this finally comes on stream, it would ease transportation modes.
Bawa’Allah, a former Managing Director of Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC) and ex-dean LASU School of Transportation, praised the synergy between the Ministries of Transportation and Power, Works, adding that the two hold the keys to getting the nation out of economic woods.
But another logistics expert Patrick Adenusi said the Federal Government’s scorecard of less than 45 percent execution on all its projects had compounded Nigerians’ nightmare in 2017.
Citing the Apapa-Oshodi-Tin Can Island road repair, Adenusi said failure to get this crucial project off the ground weas hurting the economy as 80 percent of travels were still executed on the roads. He wondered why this critical road would still be on the drawing board after consortia of firms, led by Dangote Group signified intention to bankroll its repair.
“One would have expected that the Federal Government move with more speed on the roads repairs. But they might have been encumbered with paucity of funds, occasioned by the slash of their budgetary allocation by the National Assembly,” he said.
Bawa’Allah also praised the government for its determination to tackle the rot that had bedevilled the sector. He said the soon-to-berth National Transportation Policy, as well as other instruments, such as the National Road Fund Bill, the repeal of the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act 1954 Bill, and the National Transportation Commission Bill, would help to reposition the sector soon.
Rail sector strides
Arguably, no sub-sector succeeded in gripping the attention of the government in the outgone year than the rail sector.
With the flag-off of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail tracks by then Acting President Prof Yemi Osinbajo last March 7, the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi ensured that the 18 months delivery deadline was sacrosanct.
Monthly, since last June, Amaechi led members of the project’s implementation committee to review the contractor’s progress and ensured all encumbrancesm especially in built up areas within Lagos, were removed.
When completed, the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge, with a branch line at Apapa is expected to be major boost to cargo and passenger train traffic on the west line. Being the second lot, the third and final lot i.e. Ibadan-Kano (which would complete the modernisation of the Lagos-Kano Western Line) is expected to kick-off in the first quarter of next year.
The Federal Government last month also took delivery of two locomotives and 10 first class coaches for its Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line, which has been using locomotive to run commercial operations on that route since it started commercial operation in 2016. The new acquisition, which is yet to be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to boost passenger traffic along the line, which lately has been recording huge and unprecedented patronage.
As government continued its strides with the modernisation of the nation’s railway corporation’s assets, it also kick started negotiations with General Electric (GE) to concession to it, the corporation’s narrow gauge’s fixed and rolling assets.
Unlike her federal counterpart, Lagos State government last year consolidated on her strides in the transportation sector, with the delivery of 114 inner city roads, spearheaded by the local governments, while another 181 roads are ongoing across the 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs in the state.
These are besides the delivery of some flyover bridges –Jubilee Bridges at Lekki and Abule Egba, and Bola Tinubu Bridge at Ekoro, construction of multiple laybys, roads expansion and modern bus termini that are springing up across the state. The Abule-Egba-Oshodi BRT lane extension is being complemented with the ongoing Oshodi bus terminal and multi-storey car parks and shopping malls, which further complemented by the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road-Oshodi remodelling, all of which are to be delivered by next December.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is set to crystallise his road sector transformation with the introduction of bus reform, which is set to replace the rickety yellow buses with 5000 new medium to big capacity buses in the next three years.
Ambode’s strides in the road mode is being further complemented with the purchase of new ferries for the LagFerries, which is to complement the dredging of the waterways, and the development of new water routes aimed at pushing passenger traffic from one million to 2.5 million in the first instance and about five million in the next five years. Though its blue light rail has suffered a five years delay, government insisted the project is on course with the first phase set for delivery by 2018.
Bawa’Allah praised state government’s various strides on the transportation sector. He said Ambode might have woken to the reality that the sector could transform the state’s economy.