Abusing roads with man-made obstacles

LAST week, Anambra State Government directed traditional rulers and presidents-general of town unions of the state’s 181 communities to remove all, no matter under whose authority they were erected, along all asphalted roads in the state. 

  EXPLAINING the directive, a release signed by Director of Highways, Achike Onuorah on behalf of Commissioner for Works stated that it is   part of measures to permit free flow of traffic and protect lifespan of roads.

  THE release is in line with recent state executive council policy on installation of road bumps.

  BUT the merits of such directives are clear and self-explanatory that only those adrift of basic road econometrics will question the sense behind it. A natural question that comes to mind on the new directive is why?

  FIRST, all over the world – Anambra State not isolated –provision of motorable roads ranks very high on social development matrix. In the weighing scales of good governance, many factors notch availability of durable, all-weather roads on enviable radars.

Such  Parametres include connecting people with people, linking towns to towns, necessitating intra and inter-state movements, among others. Road transportation has overtime become one social safety net accommodating both the rich and the poor.

  THIS explains why Gov. Willie Obiano-led administration since its inception on March 17, 2014, has continued investing strategically in not only rehabilitating previously abandoned roads but also building new roads that open up interior and urban areas of the state to the rest of the world for ease of doing business, development security and broader exposure to the world.

  SECOND, roads, apart from being vital social need as a matter of priority are built at high cost implication.  For instance, the 2020 budget of Anambra State allocated N22.2 billion to road infrastructure, out of which N15.15 billion goes to construction of new roads and rehabilitation of existing ones. A check on the previous fiscal year will not radically depart from this paradigm.

  THEREFORE, anyone, even if half informed but without malice or mischief, would welcome government’s move against such spoilage of facilities procured at high public expense.

  NOTWITHSTANDING huge resources being committed by government in building roads, especially the legacy roads projects being executed by the present administration, abusing those public utilities pose immense danger to road safety and road economy.

While mendicants and ‘hustling’ youths engage themselves on roads by mounting traffic obstruction structures to form illegal toll gates – at times digging craters or over-two-feet-deep holes at any point of their convenience, communities hire them to mount bumps at arbitrary intervals on the same roads they pose more harm to the society and their economy. Sometimes, corporate bodies such as telcoms, electricity and water distribution firms engage agents to abuse same roads.

They would spoil the routes and turn around to complain when they become bad. Similarly, members of the communities who played blind eyes when the spoilage was being executed would join in shedding crocodile tears when the paths go bad.

The truth is that when a society deface or mess up her roads,  she hinders easy movement – often through snarling traffic that rub off negatively on productivity, profitability  and man-hour indices –which underlines the essence of government’s commitment to providing good roads apart from serving as road block devices give kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminal spots for ambush operations.

  SOME of the man-made barriers are created on the roads without regard to motorists who are not familiar with the locality. Some of the  potholes and bumps are dug as near as 50 metres near each other, with no consideration for ancillary damage to vehicles that bump up and down the obstacles nor corollary  wear and tear on the roads to deny government any return on its investment.

  ALTHOUGH there is need to prevent human deaths resulting from auto crashes especially those from speeding under whose facades some people hide to abuse roads that pass through their communities, it is pertinent to put this dynamic in its proper perspectives and enable those on the wrong side know when they cross their bounds.  

This is because various traffic control and regulation laws categorise roads along the ranks of expressway, Trunks A, B, C and streets or link roads. Every category of road has its various privileges and varying degrees of duty of care enforceable by law.

  FOR instance, drivers on the first four categories of roads have right of way at common law, which local traffic statutes domesticate, to brook no interference from local communities which are mere joint users with other passers-bye without any more titular dues, having been compensated by government at project stage.

The position differs slightly with the duty of care imposed on motorists while driving through neighbourhoods and streets, but even here, the law does not reduce provision of speed breakers to an all-comers’ affair – because only local governments have duties to mark some points for these devices.

  BUT why should anyone cross expressways or Trunk-A roads, for instance, outside areas earmarked as zebra crossing? Should any pedestrian who ignores walkways or aerial bridges to dart across highways blame motorist if he or she is hit?

  THIS is why the new Anambra directive on road bumps is not only timely but calls for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to ensure that it achieved the aims for which it was conceived.

  WE CALL for more enlightenment campaigns in villages, towns, schools, markets, mass media and churches for better sensitisation of people on their duties in preservation of government-owned social infrastructures, especially roads and road signs, in their host communities.  

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