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Published On: Thu, Aug 31st, 2023

The Nightmare Of  Benin-Warri Road


By Mathew Ogagavworia

LAGOS AUGUST 31ST (URHOBOTODAY)-Transportation is an enabler in any society. The majority of the people in any society make use of road for movement of human and cargoes from one part of the society to another. Distance between Warri and Benin has been put between 92km and 100.88km. Sadly, this short distance has not received the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria or the State Governments of Delta and Edo States, who are rather interested in reminding Nigerians that it is squarely the Federal Government of Nigeria’s place to make the road passable for all Nigerians that must utilize it for travels.

Travelling by road between Benin and Warri has become a nightmare for travellers. The road serves travellers that have to commute between Benin, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States in the nearest proximity. What have been Governments’ plans towards resolving the perennial issue of craters, potholes, gorges that have now dotted the entire stretches? At best tepid.

Specifically, the sections of the road from Ibada-Elume-Sapele, Amukpe, Oghara , Mosogar Tinapa’ Palm Wine Joint to Ologbo-Benin are now characterized with craters, potholes, gullies on both sides of the highway. This situation gets worsened where there are heavy-duty trucks; trailers get stuck because of the unmotorable state of the road.

The median on the entire Benin-Warri highway is all overgrown with grasses, trees and bushes without any attempt to weed them or make them free of same. It is still a worry that on the entire stretch, there are hardly any drains to take waters from the road to the rivers, streams and rivulets that dot it. Is it highway street lights? That has not been in the plan for all the years the road was constructed. No attempt has been made to repair and prevent roadside erosion by provision of drains or regular maintenance.

This situation has led to incidences of increased accidents, robberies, commuters spending more than a day on a trip that should ordinarily take less than 60 minutes. There have been reported cases of accidents due to drivers’ attempts to overcome the bad spots, driving against traffic and killing unsuspecting citizens on the spot. Commerce on that route suffers with its impact on the livelihood of citizens of the States that must utilize the roads to get to their destination.

Government cannot continue to pay half or scant regard to the road as it remains a road to the belly of the crude oil that fuels Abuja and federating States in Nigeria.

“Roads make a crucial contribution to economic development and growth and bring important social benefits. They are of vital importance in order to make a nation grow and develop. In addition, providing access to employment, social, health and education services makes a road network crucial in fighting against poverty. Roads open up more areas and stimulate economic and social development. For those reasons, road infrastructure is the most important of all public assets.”

As outlined above, the necessity for governments all over the world to prioritize critical public infrastructure such as roads cannot be overemphasized. Roads are critical in fighting against poverty; they stimulate economic and social development. The fallout from the poor state of most portions of the Benin-Warri road is that businesses lose as longer hours are spent, accidents occur sometimes with the vehicles, cargoes and human lives in those portions of the roads that are in a state of total disrepair.

Worse of it is the increased agony of commuters who spend productive hours on a single spot, affecting their health and exposing them to armed robbery attacks. Most business initiatives are put off or added costs are incurred as many who can take the cost are compelled to fly when they could have savoured the beauty of the mangrove as they travel by road.

In time past, governments only offered cosmetic fixes that could not stand another rainy season. Some critical portions of the road have been the Warri-Sapele end, the Oghara-Ologbo and now the Benin end. It does need repeating that the erstwhile Sapele/Warri road has also joined to agonise road users. A journey that should take one hour now, in some days, costs commuters between four and five, with loss of time, money, employment, deepening the poverty while the people are made to suffer unjustifiably.

The sad thing is that the location of the road in question is a major contributor to the money that is shared in Abuja to fix critical road infrastructure elsewhere in Nigeria.

We understand that Nigeria is faced with cash crises resulting from poor choices in the past. This new administration can make use of the current tax Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme to conduct a full reconstruction and rehabilitation of the entire road to make life meaningful for the citizens of Nigeria that make use of that road regularly. The Government can simply engage with the major private concerns in that region to take advantage to participate in bringing succour to the people.

The past government of President Buhari had reportedly approved the reconstruction of the Benin/Sapele/Warri road in a statement signed by the then Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, as published in the Vanguard of April 19, 2023. We are yet to see any effect of the reported approval on the road. We believe that government is a continuum and therefore the government of President Tinubu should immediately activate the agreement to see the return to site of those who have been awarded the contract.

We are making this call to the Honourable Minister, Rt. Hon. David Umahi, the Minister of Works, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Governors of Edo State, Delta State, Bayelsa and Rivers States to work together to see that this all-important road gets urgent attention in the short term and in the long term.

*Ogagavworia, FCA, President, Warri Boys Association, writes via ogagavworia@yahoo.com 

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