By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA â€” The National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTDs) have lashed out at the Federal Government over the deplorable state of federal roads in the country, which, they noted, has greatly harmed their operation over the years.
Addressing a joint press conference yesterday in Abuja on the state of federal roads, both associations threatened to boycott all roads in the country if nothing was done to repair the more than 34,000 kilometre roads by next rainy season.
National Operations Coordinator of NARTO, Alhaji Lawal Isa, who spoke on behalf of both groups, called on the President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to declare a state of emergency on all federal roads in the country.
He also noted that recent television clips showing the Minister of Works, Dr. Hassan Lawal Mohammed â€œflamboyantly making ceremonial visits to selected road project sites are mere publicity stunts which does not impress the road users.
â€œThe present level of deterioration is unprecedented in the history of road management in Nigeria. It has never been this bad even during the civil war years in the 60s.
â€œWe have, therefore, decided to boycott all federal roads if by next rainy season the roads are not fixed.
â€œIn April this year, the Federal Executive Council approved road contracts to the tune of N116 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of about 26 listed roads across the nation.
â€œWe rejoiced over this development and conveyed same in writing to the Minister of Works, Housing and Urban Development, and we even suggested the introduction of weigh bridges across the country as a measure to protect the infrastructure when completed,â€ he said.
He noted that the duration of the contacts range form 12 to 30 months, â€œbut today, eight months after the massive contract awards, the situation has not changed for the better. There is no sign of contractors working on about two-third of the affected roads.â€
Of particular importance, he said, were three major roads in the country including the Shagamu-Ore-Benin expressway, the Abuja-Kano-Maiduguri road and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
â€œLagos-Ibadan road which was chosen as the pilot project has formally been handed over to Bi-Courtney Highways Ltd., about three months ago for N89 billion. This is the most important corridor with the highest vehicle density in the country. Yet, the concessionaire has not been seen making any mobilisation effort on the road,â€ he said.