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Nigerian govt. face court action over bad roads

Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission,FRSC and the Minister of Works  has been dragged too the Federal High Court in Lagos over the deplorable condition of Lagos-Ibadan-Benin expressways

In a suit No FHC/IK/M34/2010, a Human Rights Lawyer, Falana stated that he is “entitled to his fundamental right to life; and to the human right of physical development guaranteed by Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and that the 1st Respondent (Minister) is under a legal obligation to repair and maintain the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway but has refused to repair it for no just cause.

The 2nd Respondent (FRSC) is under a legal duty to clear or remove all obstructions from the Lagos – Ibadan and the Lagos- Benin Expressways but has neglected to do so.”

According to him, “I know as a fact that the Lagos –Benin and Lagos-Ibadan expressways were constructed over 30 years ago by the Federal Government of Nigeria. At the time the two roads were commissioned there were few vehicles plying them.

Falana also averred that “The Olusegun Obasanjo administration ordered the demolition of the toll gates in 2002 on the ground that the money realized from fuel hike was sufficient to repair and maintain the roads. As the funds realized from the incessant fuel hikes were diverted elsewhere by the Federal Government the roads have since become death traps where hundreds of motorists are killed in accidents.

From time to time many vehicles which areabandoned on both roads pose risk to the lives of road users. On several occasions I have had to take many victims of accidents on both roads to hospitals in Lagos and  Ogun States.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Works  yesterday   threatened to blacklist   some civil engineering contractors over the abandonment of road projects in different parts of the country.

The threat came even as the lawmakers adopted a  motion  on  the non-completion of the Abuja-Lokoja-Okene  dual carriage way.   The motion   was sponsored by Hon. James Idachaba (PDP Kogi)  and  22 other lawmakers.  The sponsors noted that  the road is one of the  major gate-ways  to the Federal Capital Territory and other northern parts of the country.

The  House also  resolved  to invite the Minister  of Works to appear before  the Committee on Works to explain the reasons  for the delay  in the completion of the road.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon.  Chukwuma Onyema (PDP Anambra), made the threat at an interactive session with officials of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).  “We cannot continue to condone the abandonment of road projects in the East and other parts of the country.

If this continues, we will not hesitate to ask the Speaker of the House to write a letter to blacklist any company that is found wanting.If you go around the country, roads are terrible, and every year money is appropriated for these roads”, he said.

Some of the projects allegedly abandoned by contractors are the Obajana-Kabbba Road in KogiState , special repairs and the pavement strengthening overlay of 9th Mile Corner-Obollo-Afor-Otukpa Road .

Managing Director of FERMA,  Kabir Muhammed, told the Committee that most of the contracts were “terminated” or abandoned before he took office last year, but were being listed for reconsideration in the 2010 budget.

Other roads proposed for consideration this year, according to him, include special repairs and pavement strengthening (Overlay) of Aliade-Makurdi-Lafia, Tegina Birnin-Gwari  Mokwa-Bina, Biu-Damboa-Maiduguri, Gombe-Postikum Roads.

The maintenance would also cover Zaria-Kano, Kaduna-Zaria, Dutsinma-Kankara-Katsina Road , Birnin-Gwari, Umuahia-Ariam-Ikot-Ekpene. Owerri-Orlu-Akokwa-Awka, Egbema-Ahoada-Abua-Degema, Ogoja-Obudu, Amukpe-Abraka-Umutu-Agbor-Uromi, Ibadan-Ife, Ife-Ijesha-Akure dual carriageway roads.

The FERMA boss said the Agency would also provide street lighting on roads and  bridges in all zones of the country, as well as construct additional observation and service camps at flashpoints in all zones of the country.