East West Road, Floods Elsewhere
THE authorities should take a more serious look at the design of the East West Road, particularly in the light of flooding that left portions of the road under water. It is time more questions were asked about the design of the road, and whether suspended bridges would not be required in more places.
Efforts at justifying work done so far, or sharing blames for the defects that the flooding exposed about the road, are completely unhelpful. There is no point building a road that would be lost, each time there is flooding.
For over two weeks, travellers to Abuja were stuck in Lokoja where the River Niger overflowed its banks. There was no on-going work on the road that could have occasioned the flooding. The message was that the road was vulnerable to flooding. Redeeming works on it would also be a waste if there is no bridge that would lift that portion of the road above the ravages of future floods.
Globally, flooding is overwhelming. The challenges of disasters are unpredictable, but they are no reasons for the low responses we had, or the belief that once the flooding is gone, normalcy would return.
What would normalcy be for millions of Nigerians who lost their villages, businesses and invaluable ancestral property? Who will fund the recovery?
The East West Road and the Abuja-Lokoja Road exemplify deeper concerns we should have for our poor infrastructure. More roads and infrastructure are at risk in different parts of the country. They would not be saved by the attention that we are dedicating at praising how much we did, which leaves us not noticing what still has to be done.
A lot of work lies ahead. Before the flooding, the East West Road was already a major challenge; the flooding would only have increased the challenge. With or without the flooding, the importance of the road in opening up the South South region is not in doubt.
Government should tackle the issues with the East West Road more seriously. Blames that are heaped on financing create the wrong impression. Is the project too unimportant for government to fund it? Does government care if the road is ever completed?
Our fears are that the issues around the flooding could recede from public attention as the flood water dries. That would be the real tragedy. Our peoples who the flooding ravaged need projects that would get them out of their new challenges.
Flooding may be a natural disaster, but as we have seen elsewhere, it only pushes leaders to do more to protect their people and their environments. Excuses have no space in serious matters.
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