By EBELE ORAKPO
But I don’t understand human beings! How can the people doing business in this area not repair the road for their own comfort?If I say I no tire for them, I dey lie,” commented Christy, a commuter in the Mile-2 bound bus as the driver tried to avoid one pothole after another along the Ajangbadi – Ojo Alaba International Market road.
“They are waiting for government to do it nah!” replied Pete.
“That doesn’t make sense. Who is feeling the pains? How many government officials use this road? They are all in highbrow areas. This area is for the masses,” said Christy.
“It’s government’s job to repair the roads. Do you realise how much government makes from these businesses here?
These traders pay all sorts of levy to both state and local governments and what do they get in return? At least, the government should reciprocate by repairing this road for them, but no, they would rather share the money,” said Chidi.
“Left to the business people here, they would have done it because the bad road shortens the lifespan of their vehicles; so it would be in their best interest to contribute money and do the road, but there is a problem. The problem is that government will not allow them to do it,” said Kenny.
“Are you kidding me? How can you say a thing like that? Somebody is trying to help you do your job so you will have enough money to do other things and you are saying no? Is that normal?” asked Pete.
Replied Kenny: “Is anything normal in Nigeria? Is it our politicians that are normal? “
Said Chidi: “You better believe it. It’s true. I remember a church really begging the local government before they were allowed to repair the road to the church. At that time, I couldn’t understand it but later, I understood their warped reasoning.”
“And what was the reason?” asked Pete, to which Chidi replied thus: “They didn’t say it openly but reliable sources said that if the church did it, government won’t be able to award it as a contract and get their kick-backs and kick-fronts.”
As realisation dawned on Kenny, he exclaimed: “Oh, okaaaay, I see! It all makes sense now. You know they award contracts on roads yearly or every two to three years and get kick-backs.”
Continued Chidi:”Not only that, they abhor anyone who will do a good job; they prefer shoddy jobs so that in less than a year, the road will have hundreds of potholes and they will award the contract again to their family members and cronies and get their kick-backs.
In any case, by the time you finish giving them their 10 – 30 per cent kick-back, you will have little to work with because you will want to make profit too. After all, you no come Lagos come count flyovers.”
Narrated Christy: “I heard the story of a guy who won a contract to supply chairs to a government agency during the Abacha era.
After giving the kick-back, he had very little money to work with so he complained and when the Oga heard it, he asked the guy whether he actually intended to supply the chairs, and the guy said yes.
The Oga called him a fool, telling him that the way they do it is to supply a few, just samples and pocket the rest of the money. No one will ask questions because they know how it is done.”
“God help Nigeria. If you repair any road without permission, you will land yourself in hot soup. You wan remove milk from their mouth?”
“Such contractors are foolish. They prefer to make money in the short-term and mar their reputation. How can I do a shoddy job with my name on it? Next time, no one will give me a job or recommend me to others. No way! He who must dine with politicians must do so with very, very long spoon,” said Pete.