Apparently reacting to reports about the bad state of roads in Lagos State and government’s seeming insensitivity to the plight of motorists and commuters alike, Governor Babatunde Fashola, at a retreat held for members of his cabinet, permanent secretaries and other top government officials at the weekend blamed the rains for the deplorable state of the roads.

According to the governor, the situation is not peculiar to Lagos alone as states located within the coastal belt usually suffer flooding during rainy season which often damages the roads. Even in Europe, the governor asserted, roads go bad during the winter and are repaired thereafter. While pleading with Lagosians and the media to show understanding at this period, the governor assured that his administration would move quickly to repair the roads once the rains stopped.

He also seized the opportunity to inform Lagosians of the effort of his administration in road construction and rehabilitation, boasting that his administration had built more roads in the last three years than a country like Ghana did within the same period.

As much as we sympathise with the governor over the criticisms he received on the poor state of roads in the state, we regard his explanations as a feeble attempt to shield fraudulent contractors who perform shoddy jobs in the construction and rehabilitation of these roads.   When you appoint a contractor on the basis of political considerations to execute road contracts, you will always have bad roads because they will cut corners to maximise their profit. Besides, political contractors have godfathers they have to give certain returns out of the total contract sum, thereby leaving them with insufficient fund to execute the project.

An investigation of most of the failed roads in the state carried out by P.M.NEWSrecently revealed that they were poorly executed by the contractors. Most of them were constructed or rehabilitated,  with substandard materials and thin layers of asphalt. Whenever a little rain falls, the surface is washed away and this exposes the red clay underneath. As vehicles ply the road, potholes appear on it and they widen and become a source of nightmare for road users.

During our investigation, we also discovered that there are some well built roads in the state which are unaffected by the rains because of the thick layer of asphalt used in covering the surface and the good drainage system. Examples of these roads are the Alhaja Kudirat Abiola Road, Onikan Road, Commercial Avenue, Yaba, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and a few others on Lagos Island and Lagos Mainland.

Infact, most of the roads in the Lagos suburbs are in a terrible state with large potholes that usually burst tyres of vehicles that mistakenly run into them. The governor should drive round roads in Ogba, College Road, Ago Palace Way, Okota, some roads in Lekki Phase 1 and 2, especially Victoria Arobieke Road end of Admiralty Road, Akowonjo, Shomolu and Bariga roads, etc. to asssess things by himself. Perhaps his aides are deceiving him that these roads are not as bad as Lagosians are complaining about. He will be shocked at the state of these roads.

The excuse by Governor Fashola that the the rains brought about the poor state of the roads rings hollow. It is the shoddy job done by contractors that has been exposed by the rains. These contractors and their corrupt, inept, incompetent collaborators in the state Ministry of Works should be brought to book.

It is a well known fact that engineers charged with inspecting these roads and advising the government appropriately on their quality have also compromised their professional integrity by approving poorly constructed roads that cannot stand the test of time. They do this after receiving gratification from the contractors. Government should give road contracts only to reputable professionals who would build durable roads according to specifications.

Engineers should also be made to do their work conscientiously and ascertain the quality of the materials used in the construction of roads. Bad jobs should not be approved and the contractor concerned should be sanctioned.

Another area we want the governor to look into is the drainages. It is true that the administration has been constructing drainages along roads in the state, but this has not had a significant effect in reducing flooding in the state because the drains drain water to nowhere.  In some instances, you find most of these drainages blocked by wastes and other impediments. As a result of blocked drainages, water stays longer than necessary on the roads and this leads to erosion of the roads and the potholes are created.

Measures should also be taken against indiscriminate digging of roads in the metropolis because this also contributes to the poor state of the roads. Most important, we urge Governor Fashola to embark on filling  the potholes as a palliative measure pending the total rehabilitation of the roads immediately after the rainy season.