Experts move against public infrastructure vandalisation
The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, (APWEN) and National Orientation Agency (NOA) have charged the federal and state governments to strengthen security measures and ensure that criminal elements involved in vandalisation of public assets are brought to book.
APWEN also advised the government to invest in newer technologies that can help detect and prevent vandalism, create awareness campaigns by emphasising the importance of the infrastructure to the welfare of the people and consequences of vandalising them.
President of the association, Dr. Elizabeth Eterigho, who spoke at the stakeholder’s sensitisation programme against destruction of public assets and critical infrastructure organised by NOA in Abuja, urged Nigerians to prioritise the safety and well-being of infrastructure. She said vandalisation of assets posed a significant threat to public safety, economic stability and national security.
Speaking on ‘Vandalised Assets and Critical Infrastructure, its Economic Dangers and the Way Out: Engineering Perspective’, the APWEN president said: “Another consequence of vandalism is the potential threat to the safety of citizens, such as victims of pipeline explosions, resulting in loss of lives and property. Such incidents indirectly weigh on the economy, with the cost of compensation and litigation, adding to the financial burden.
“The socio-economic implications of asset and infrastructure vandalism can also lead to social unrest, as it can lead to loss of jobs, poverty, and increase in crime rates. This situation can also exacerbate the existing infrastructure deficit in Nigeria, leading to a negative feedback loop of economic underperformance.
Eterigho stated that Nigerians must protect assets, including pipelines, power grids, telecommunication networks and public infrastructure, as they are very crucial to daily lives. “Preventing vandalism of critical infrastructure requires a multi-faceted approach that involves education, awareness, improved security measures, cyber security, collaboration and reporting and response mechanisms.
Moreover, the destruction of essential infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and transport systems can slow down economic activities, and the repair costs may often be beyond the country’s capacity. For instance, a significant portion of Nigeria’s roads is in terrible condition, with potholes and craters that cause accidents costing billions of Naira yearly.”
Eterigho said vandalism of assets and infrastructure is a pressing concern that plagues the country despite vast natural and human resources; yet, the nation continues to suffer from inadequate infrastructure.
To her, there is a need for concerted efforts from citizens, government agencies for law enforcement to address the issue and ensure that the nation’s economic growth potential is not undermined.
She canvassed increased security measures, community engagement, regular maintenance, and collaboration with stakeholders and installation of anti-vandalism measures, as well as electronic surveillance of infrastructure.
The APWEN President further said: “We have seen cases of pipelines being vandalised by criminal elements, who extract oil illegally thereby causing environmental degradation, while also endangering human lives. The telecommunications sector is also not spared, with the recent destruction of communication towers resulting in a loss of network connectivity. As if that’s not enough, we have witnessed the destruction of public buildings, roads, and bridges, causing untold hardship for the populace.
Other examples of vandalised assets and critical infrastructure are water treatment facilities, government buildings, and other essential facilities. Vandalism can have severe consequences, not only in terms of financial losses but also in terms of public safety and national security.”
On his part, NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari, cautioned Nigerians on the negative effects of destroying critical public infrastructure and assets.
The DG, who was represented by the Director, Public Enlightenment and Mass Mobilisation, Mrs. Theresa Maduekwe, said over the years, successive administrations have continued to invest huge resources to build and maintain public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, hydroelectric power stations, telephone, rail tracks as well as gas and petroleum pipelines.
Abari said it was important to protect infrastructure as a matter of urgent national importance. He pointed out that most of the infrastructure runs through communities and contributed to improving quality of life across cities.