UNLESS there is an urgent attention on the deplorable state of roads across the country, the number of people who die daily through road crashes and the high cost of vehicle maintenance in Nigeria may not see any reasonable reduction, experts have warned.
With a road network totaling about 204, 000 kilometres and about 12.76 million registered motor vehicles and motorcycles; Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest number of death resulting from road crashes.
Ranking by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that Nigeria has the highest rate of accidents in the world.
In fact, reports said road accident kill more people than malaria in developing countries and considered Nigeria as one of the countries with the largest number of unsafe roads in Africa.
According to experts, due to the poor nature of roads across the federation, Nigerians spend more than three times higher on vehicle maintenance than most countries of the world.
The Managing Director, Automedics Limited, Kunle Shonaike said: “Our road network is nothing to write home about. Roads in Nigeria are death trap, with a lot of vehicles breaking down where the roads are not good”
He maintained that the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA must wake up to its duties, noting that some of the roads are what really damage lives and vehicles on the road.
“Why some vehicle parts are consumable parts in Nigeria is due to our roads, for instance the suspension, the steering part are suppose to last longer.
Shonaike said: “We must not keep shifting the blame on the government. If some of these roads must be fixed Nigerians must be ready to embrace toll payment. That is the situation across the world. Nigerians must also find a solution to the problem of articulated trucks, most of them are overloaded and the reason is because of the lack of enforcement on the roads.There are no weigh bridges on the roads. If we have weigh bridges these trucks will not be overloaded. Trucks have load capacity but most of our trucks exceed the capacity two to three times.”
He stated that the current administration needs time to perform since most of the roads cannot be fixed over night, “it took years for the roads to get damaged, so constructing a road is going to take time”.
According to him, the bad road network affects Nigerians financially because vehicles part that ordinary last for four to five years in other parts of the world only last for six months.
“Because of the condition of our roads, vehicle parts like shock absorbers are consumable, which are not supposed to be,” Shonaike maintained.
The Managing Director Admiralty Motors, Maryann Chukwueke said: “It cost three times more servicing cars here in Nigeria than servicing vehicles overseas, particularly in the areas of oil filter change, suspension, which is the most expensive part of maintenance, brake pads, shock absorbers, stabilizer linkages etc.
“From my experience during the Christmas season, most of the roads are not taking care of, particularly in the South Eastern Nigeria, for example, the federal road linking Owerri to Umuahia is very bad, the one from Abia to Port Harcourt is massively poor, even the Lagos-Ibadan express is taking longer time to be fixed.”
However, Chukwueke stated that the decision of the present administration to invest in infrastructure is encouraging and would death rate from road accident.
Head Consultant, Media Advocate Limited, an automobile brand support services company, Manny Philipson said: “Most of the country’s road networks are not expandable to cater for growing traffic and industrial development thus compounding future growth plans and business interests in Nigeria where roads are predominantly the only means of transportation. Sometimes one wonders why a country of 170 million people with predominantly large youth population can’t impact positively on sales of new vehicles that still hangs on a combined sales volume of about 45, 000 and 50, 000 vehicles yearly.”
According to him, why most patrons would rather buy used vehicles instead of new ones, is not necessarily because of the initial cost but the implication of after purchase maintenance, which outweighs cost of procurement – a fundamental implication of poorly maintained roads
Though a bad road is not the only factor responsible for road accidents, a report by World Bank predicted that road accidents will kill more people in Africa than malaria and HIV with a rise by 80 per cent in 2020.
According to World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa’s high-risk roads cost between 1 and 3 per cent of total Gross national product (GNP) each year.
An estimated 24.1 people per 100,000 are killed in traffic accidents every year, according to the bank. Younger and poorer people are disproportionately vulnerable: accidents on the road are expected to become the biggest killer of children between five and 15 by 2015, outstripping malaria and AIDS.