With the nation’s road repair fund running on fumes, research has shown how much bad roads are costing Nigerian drivers in higher repair bill.
Every spring thaw brings potholes.
This year, one of the harshest rainfalls in memory is turning Nigeria’s highways into a historic pothole. Now, just as states are scrambling to patch up the damage highways and some roads, state government is bickering over how to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund that states rely on to pay for those projects.
More than a quarter of the nation’s major urban roads were in bad shape as of 2013, the latest data available. The cost of repairing the resulting broken axles, blown tyres and battered shock absorbers cost the average urban driver $516 a year.
A geopolitical and socio-economic research firm, SBM Intelligence, has released a report listing some of the worst roads in Nigeria.
The report which was released following an in-depth study of Nigeria’s expressways, listed the following roads as some of the worst in the country.
In cities with populations of 1 million or more, Kabba-Kafanchan, Benin Bypass, Mokwa-Jebba, Lokoja-Ajaokuta, Aba-Obigbo, Onitsha-Enugu, Idoma-Benue Highway among others, topped the list for the worst road conditions, according to the report.
Among smaller cities (with 250,000 to 500,000 people.
Those poor road conditions cost drivers in Lagos an estimated $1,044 per year in maintenance costs, more than double the national average.
Reports estimates that the nationwide annual cost of driving on bad roads comes to about $309 billion. That’s more than the combined federal, state and local spending of $123 billion a year in 2013.
The recent highway funding drought began long before last rainfall’s heavy storms set in.
For the last two decades, highway spending has badly lagged the increased traffic that has been pounding American pavement into disrepair.
Since 1990, overall Nigeria Highway Traffic is up by more than a third; Commercial Truck Traffic, which adds the most stress, is up by a half. And the amount of large Commercial Truck Travel in Nigeria is expected to increase by 82 percent from 2015 to 2030.
But spending levels aren’t even keeping up with what’s needed to maintain the existing road network, let alone expand capacity.
For nearly six decades, the Federal Highway Trust Fund has been fueled largely by a tax on a federal gasoline and diesel sales, which the Transportation Ministry then apportions to state highway departments and other transportation agencies.
But, largely because the tax has not been raised in more than 20 years, rising construction costs have overtaken the increase in tax receipts. Adjusted for inflation, every dollar of gasoline tax collected in 2015 buys about the equivalent of 60 cents worth of roadwork in 1993, the last year the tax was raised.
Fuel tax receipts have also failed to keep up with the increased traffic on the nation’s highways. While Americans are driving more vehicle miles again since a dip during the Great Recession, fuel consumption has declined as cars and trucks have become more fuel efficient.
That’s about half of what’s needed to repair and upgrade the nation’s highways, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
To make up the shortfall, Lawmakers have transferred more than $53 billion from other tax revenue over the past five years, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
As in the past, the latest highway funding renewal bill has been stuck in a slow lane debate over issues that have nothing to do with potholes.
Study was conducted using feedback from drivers of commercial vehicles; about 71% of whom stated that in the last 5 years, Nigerian roads have gotten worse.
The report stated: “The poor state of road transportation has led to the loss of billions of Naira in economic value as well as thousands of avoidable deaths due to accidents.
“Despite the fact that billions of Naira are budgeted yearly at all levels of governments for the building of new roads and maintenance of existing ones, Nigeria continues to grapple with the need for more, and better roads.”
A lead analyst at SBM Intel, Ikemesit Effiong, blamed the bad state of roads in the country for the slow cultural development of different areas of Nigeria.
He stated that cross-fertilisation of ideas essential for cultural integration and national identity formation were being hampered by the state of the nation’s roads.
He advised the federal government to fix the roads, stating: “Coupled with its impact on the cost of doing business and needless loss of human lives, any serious Nigerian government will focus squarely on fixing our roads.”
”Nigeria has 108,000km of surfaced roads (32,000km of which has been built and is managed by the Federal Government), making it the country with the largest road network in West Africa; yet, the government has reportedly not undergone a large-scale assessment of the current state of the nation’s roads.