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Cablegate: Nigeria Plagued by Failing Road Network

DE RUEHUJA #3071/01 3330826
P 290826Z NOV 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) LAGOS 1320 B) ABUJA 2434 C)ABUJA 1959 D) ABUJA 1083

1. Summary. Nigeria's road-transportation network has deteriorated
badly following decades of neglect, almost no maintenance, and
severely deficient funding. Nigeria has recognized for decades the
need to improve its roads but so far has failed to do so. A Central
Bank survey found that most roads, especially in the south, were in
very poor condition and required complete rehabilitation. This was
largely true of roads in the north, while those especially in the
southeast were terrible. Some roads built more than 30 years ago
had never been rehabilitated. Septel will address Nigeria's recent
initiatives to improve roads. End summary.

Steady Decrease in Spending on Roads

2. Nigeria formerly possessed a road network that was above average
for West Africa. As the Government of Nigeria (GON) reduced and
then almost eliminated funding for road maintenance, the condition
of roads declined markedly. Between 1975 and 1985 the GON spent the
equivalent, in 1995 naira terms, of 924 billion naira ($42.2
billion) on roads - an average of about $4 billion per year. By the
Ministry of Works' admission, government spending on roads then
plummeted to an annual average of just 1 billion naira between 1986
and 1994. The severe deterioration in the nation's road network and
the resulting economic costs concerned the Central Bank of Nigeria
(CBN), which called poor roads a major trigger of cost-push
inflation. The CBN's Research Department surveyed Nigeria's road
network in 2003. Its findings remain valid today.

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Survey Conclusions

3. The CBN found that most of Nigeria's roads, especially in the
south, were in very poor condition and required complete
rehabilitation. The same was largely true of roads in the north,
while those especially in the southeast generally were terrible.
Nationwide, some roads built more than 30 years before had never
been rehabilitated, resulting in major cracks, depressions, numerous
potholes, and broken-down bridges along most Nigerian roads. The
shoulders of many roads had eroded, leaving some highways nearly
impassable. Some roads required total rehabilitation and repaving.

4. The CBN found Nigeria's roads were plagued by broad problems,
with major ones being faulty design, inadequate drainage systems,
and a poor maintenance culture, which reduced the roads' utility
significantly and made road transport slow and unsafe. Other
problems included poor road construction, an inefficient highway
bureaucracy, insufficient funding, and the overuse of roads due to a
lack of functioning waterways and railroads.

Maintenance Is Badly Deficient

5. The Central Bank especially faulted the GON for having no program
for road maintenance. Road-maintenance decisions were made at the
ministry level and influenced by politics rather than need, leaving
most of the country's roads neglected. Some of the few
rehabilitation projects were not completed because contractors were
not paid in full. Although large sums were spent on road
construction, funding for maintenance lagged behind badly. From
1999 to 2002 the Ministry of Works received appropriated funding for
fewer than 10% of its road-maintenance requests, and only 53.5% of
the appropriated amount actually was released to the ministry.

The High Costs of Bad Roads

6. The CBN found these problems made it expensive and arduous for
Nigerians to transport goods and services from producers to
consumers, and agricultural produce from rural to urban centers.
This led to a loss of man-hours and a high cost of goods and
services. The CBN pronounced Nigeria's annual direct loss from bad
roads at 80 billion naira ($622.6 million in 2003 naira terms),
while poor roads also produced higher vehicle-operating costs of
53.8 billion naira. The total annual cost of Nigeria's bad roads
was 133.8 billion naira ($1.04 billion in 2003 naira terms.)
Unmeasured and indirect costs such as slow travel, man-hours lost in
traffic, motorists' "emotional and physical trauma," and lower
national productivity, further add to the toll.

Four Types of Nigerian Roads

7. The Central Bank used Ministry of Works figures putting Nigeria's

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road network at about 194,000 km (121,250 miles), with fewer than a
third of these paved. The GON was responsible for 17% of roads,
state governments for 16%, and local governments for 67%. Nigeria
has four kinds of roads: Federal trunk "A" roads are built, owned,
and maintained by the QN. Federal trunk "F" roads are former state
roads taken over by the GON to upgrade to federal highway standards.
State trunk "R" roads are owned and managed by the states. Local
government trunk "C" roads are owned and managed by local
governments. Each level of government is responsible for planning,
building, and maintaining roads under its jurisdiction.

South-South Zone

8. The CBN surveyed roads in Nigeria's six geopolitical zones. The
country's South-South zone, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa,
and Rivers States, had a federal highway network of 4,151 km. Roads
in this zone were in fairly good condition because of an ongoing
rehabilitation program, but it was not carried out evenly, and Akwa
Ibom and Cross River were largely neglected.

Southeast Zone

The states in the Southeast geopolitical zone, Anambra, Enugu, Imo,
Ebonyi, and Abia, had a federal highway network of 3,122 km. Most
of these roads were in very poor condition because of potholes,
gullies, and erosion. The roads suffered a complete lack of
maintenance and many had not been rehabilitated for more than 30
years. The Owerri-Onitsha highway was in very bad shape with
gullies and ditches adorning its 90.5 km length. This produced very
slow and unsafe traffic, with one trip taking up five to six hours
on a bad day. The Owerri-Umuahia road was in bad condition, while
the Enugu-Onitsha road needed rehabilitation badly because the road
surface had peeled off, indicating poor-quality work. The
Urnuahia-Bende road was being rehabilitated after part of it
collapsed due to erosion.

Southwest Zone

The Southwest zone, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, and Ogun States,
had a federal highway network of 4,162 km. The roads were in fairly
good condition because of some repairs and rehabilitation carried
out from 1997 to 2001. The Lagos-Ibadan divided highway was in fair
condition but with significant potholes, and some of its road
surface was peeling off.

Northwest Zone

The Northwest zone of Kaduna, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto,
and Zamfara States had a federal highway network of 6,363 km. These
roads generally were in bad condition and required complete
rehabilitation. The survey takers observed casual laborers filling
in potholes with sand and straw in an attempt to make the roads
passable. The Kano-Katsina route was a single-lane, 156-km road
with many potholes. Large stretches of it were damaged by erosion
because a lack of drainage. The Funtua-Yankara-Tsafe-Gusau-Zamfara
stretch was a death trap because of its very deplorable condition.
The Kano-Wudil road was in very good condition, while the
Wudil-Kwanahukuma stretch had potholes.

Northeast Zone

The Northeast states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and
Yobe had a federal highway network of 6,788 km. Most roads in this
zone were contracted out for repairs but the jobs were not done
properly. Repairs were abandoned halfway, so the Ministry of Works
took over the work. Bad roads requiring urgent repair included the
Bauchi-Gombe Yola, Bauchi-Tafa-Balewa-Langtang, and Bauchi-Ningi
stretches of highway.

North-Central Zone

The North-Central states of Niger, Kwara, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa,
Kogi, and the Federal Capital Territory had a federal highway
network of 9,756 km. The severe potholes on the Suleja-to-Mokwa
stretch made it a death trap for motorists. Of the Akwanga-Makurdi
roads, the Akwanga-to-Lafia route was dangerous because of very
sharp bends, while the worst route was the 90-km stretch from Lafia
to Makurdi because of its gully-like potholes. The roads between
Abuja and Ilorin were in fair condition, but there were significant

ABUJA 00003071 003 OF 003

potholes between Abuja International Airport and Lokoja. Though
only several years old, the Lokoja-Ilorin highway already had gone
very bad with major potholes almost every kilometer, making travel


9. Since the CBN completed its road survey, little change has
occurred to Nigeria's road network except for further deterioration.
Nigeria's different levels of government have recognized for
decades the need to rebuild the country's road system - but they
have taken little action. Septel will address the GON's recent,
belated initiatives to carry out road improvements in Nigeria.

© Scoop Media

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