Better travel experience during yuletide, Fashola assures road users
Ahead of this year’s Christmas and New Year festivities, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has assured Nigerians that they would experience shorter and more pleasurable travel time during the season, saying contractors have remobilised to sites across the country to repair and restore portions of the roads affected by adverse weather.
Speaking at the ministry’s Conference Room in Mabushi, Abuja, while hosting national executive members and trustees of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), Fashola said the ministry has been meeting the contractors since September ahead of the Yuletide season, adding that the failed areas had been identified and contractors duly deployed to carry out special repairs and palliative works to facilitate better travel time for road users.
He recalled that there was also a meeting among the ministry and the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, NARTO, petroleum tanker drivers, the NNPC, DPR and other stakeholders in the transport value chain to assure those in the petroleum distribution value chain that all would be done to achieve a smooth and seamless operation during the period.
Fashola assured that the ministry was clearly on top of its game, declaring: “So, we are prepared for you; we know you are there. That is why we are meeting with all these people.”
To the association, he said: “We know that you will be under pressure and that puts us under pressure as well. We also know that the roads will be under pressure. It is a busy period for you and also an opportunity for those who want to make extra money. We are prepared for you.”
Explaining that only specific portions of the roads are challenged, the minister urged road users to help report accurately where the roads had failed to corroborate weekly reports from the controllers in all the states.
He noted that with the advent of dry weather, contractors on various road projects across the country were back to work, either to finish work already started or repair and restore portions of the roads that suffered damage during the adverse weather, just as some of them were now laying asphalt, citing the Lagos-Badagry, Port Harcourt-Enugu section and parts of Port Harcourt-Aba roads.
“Also, part of Onitsha-Enugu, from the Niger Bridge through Onitsha to Amansea to Awka has been completed though work is going on in between,” he said.
Responding to PTONA’s recommendation that government should introduce tolling on the country’s major highways as a means of generating funds to maintain the roads, Fashola said tolling would be introduced after the roads were finished, soliciting the cooperation of transport stakeholders, like PTONA, to enforce regulations on the roads, pointing out that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an Executive making it compulsory for the axial and excess loads to be checked from loading points, such as fuel depots and other regulated loading bays across the country.
Earlier, President of PTONA, Mr. Isaac Uhunmwagho, told the minister that their visit was to declare their readiness, as fellow stakeholders in the transport industry, to collaborate with the ministry in the areas of enforcing laws and regulations that would protect the roads from premature damage due to excess loads.
He blamed axial loads and heavy-duty trucks for the serial damage on the roads, saying the only way to check such excesses was to introduce weighbridges on the roads to stop such vehicles carrying excess loads and applying sanctions against offenders.
Also present at the event were the Director of Highways, Construction and Rehabilitation, Mr. Yemi Oguntominiyi; Director of Highways, Design, Mr. Charles Okonma, other directors, special advisers and top officials of the ministry, while the visitors comprised executives of PTONA, including managing directors of ABC Transport, Peace Transport and Favour Transport, among others.