Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The lack of good signs or poor traffic markings on the countryâ€™s major highways and roads is costing the country a lot in terms of social and economic benefits, the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed.
According to Fashola, most highways in Nigeria were built without proper signs to guide their users.
He said such developments have failed to improve mobility among Nigerians, thus defeating the real objective for building the roads.
Speaking at the 23rd meeting of the National Council on Works yesterday in Abuja, Fashola, explained that the development has also denied Nigerians key economic benefits derivable from road construction projects across the country.
He said highways and roads without proper signage mislead their users, while potential jobs that could come from the fabrication and installation of signs were lost because they are either not factored into the construction designs, or sidestepped entirely to save costs.
â€œAs human beings, mobility has become a major commitment of the global urban agenda. This must be so because our development, prosperity and sometimes our survival is tied to our mobility and so is our productivity, social and cultural interactions,â€ Fashola said.
He further stated: â€œYes, we have to build roads, highways and bridges. But the question then is: roads, highways and bridges to where. Where do they lead? Unless we know where these critical transport infrastructure lead to, they will either have failed to achieve the objective of mobility or will, at best, do so with difficulty.
â€œLong before the development of the internet and the proliferation of smart phones and apps, many countries have developed maps to help guide their citizens and transport infrastructure users through the labyrinth of their network of roads.
â€œBut these maps alone do not achieve the purpose without road signs, which indicates to road users, how far their journey is, how far they have progressed, how much is left to travel, and how far away they are from one village, city, local government, or from critical services like hospitals, fuel stations and hotels or motels to help ease the stress and tedium of long distance travel. Sadly, these signs are either non-existent or largely insufficient on our highways,â€ he added.
Buttressing the impacts of the development on road users, the minister said: â€œSo, imagine driving by yourself into a city you have never been, how do you know where to link the next interstate highway, or expect to buy fuel or plan to sleep for the night on a long journey or get medical help in case of a road traffic accident.â€
He said on the potential economic loses of the country from bad road signs: â€œHave we considered the fact that the existence of highway signs is a reason why the car rental business and its collateral employment thrives in some countries and not in our own?â€
â€œThe proliferation of global, country and state maps on the handheld devices therefore creates a compelling urgency on all of us to start developing and installing signage on our roads, bridges and highways at interstate and intra-state levels.
â€œThis is one sure way of facilitating mobility and implementing the local component of the global urban agenda for the benefit of our people,â€ he added.
According to him, the ministry has decided to in partnership with Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), continuously fabricate and install road signs on roads highways across the country, including those under construction. He added that this would also create jobs for Nigerians.
â€œWhile our roads are still in various stages of completion, our economic needs compel us to refuse to wait until everything is done before we begin to confer the benefits of lane marking and street signage on our people.
â€œWe have met in the ministry and agreed to compile the list of roads where significant sections have been completed, and prepare them for procurement and award of sub-contracts in collaboration with our main contractors. As more sections of roads reach completion they will be subject to similar processes so we expect this to be continuous,â€ Fashola explained.