Mark­ings and sig­nage on high­ways

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Min­is­ter of Power,Works and Hous­ing Ba­batunde Raji Fashola could not have been more cor­rect when he said trav­ellers on Nige­rian high­ways of­ten found it dif­fi­cult to lo­cate their des­ti­na­tions be­cause the roads are bereft of ad­e­quate signs and mark­ings. He spoke re­cently at the 23rd meet­ing of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Works with the theme ‘Ad­e­quate Traf­fic Sig­nage: Es­sen­tial Key for High­way In­fra­struc­ture, Safety and Com­fort’ which was or­gan­ised by his min­istry in Abuja. Fashola said long be­fore the ad­vent of the in­ter­net and the wide­spread use of smart phones and apps, many coun­tries had de­vel­oped maps to help guide their cit­i­zens and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture users through the labyrinth of their net­work of roads.

“But these maps alone do not achieve the pur­pose with­out road signs, which in­di­cate to road users how far their jour­ney is, how far they have pro­gressed, how much is left to travel, and how far away they are from one vil­lage, city, lo­cal gov­ern­ment or from crit­i­cal ser­vices like hos­pi­tals, fuel sta­tions and ho­tels or mo­tels to help ease stress and te­dium of long dis­tance travel. Sadly, these signs are either non-ex­is­tent or in­suf­fi­cient on our high­ways. So, imag­ine driv­ing by your­self into a city you have never been to. How do you know where to link the next in­ter­state high­way, or ex­pect to buy fuel or plan to sleep for the night on a long jour­ney, or get med­i­cal help in case of a road ac­ci­dent?”

The min­is­ter may have stretched the truth a bit when he spoke of “crit­i­cal ser­vices like hos­pi­tals, ho­tels or mo­tels to help ease stress... get med­i­cal help in case of road ac­ci­dents” be­cause these es­sen­tials are also non-ex­is­tent or wholly in­ad­e­quate on Nige­rian high­ways. But this is a chal­lenge for the gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor to cash in and pro­vide these ser­vices. The es­sen­tial truth of his mes­sage how­ever is the ur­gent need for the pro­vi­sion of sig­nage and mark­ings on our high­ways. Apart from those items he raised, an­other im­por­tant one is lack of signs for di­ver­sion or turn­ing dur­ing road con­struc­tion or re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, which causes con­fu­sion, stress, ten­sion and ac­ci­dents. One may have driven on a road only for one to drive again a few days later and sud­denly find the road blocked with di­ver­sion, but with no warn­ing sign. This has al­most be­come the norm in Nige­ria. High­way ban­dits cap­i­talise on this lapse to pounce on un­sus­pect­ing mo­torists.

As so of­ten hap­pens this points to the fail­ure of Nige­rian state in­sti­tu­tions where laws, poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions ex­ist on pa­per but are mostly ap­plied in the breach. Fashola’s om­nibus Min­istry of Power, Works and Hous­ing is there­fore to blame for the lax in­stal­la­tion of road signs. We urge Min­is­ter Fashola to en­force the cul­ture that no road should be al­lowed to be used with­out proper sings. He should also do what is nec­es­sary for road con­struc­tion to go hand in hand with road mark­ings, be­cause it is strange that some road con­trac­tors are only con­tracted to build roads but they leave the mark­ings out as it is not part of the con­tract. If they must be dif­fer­ent for what­ever rea­son, the mark­ings con­trac­tor should be en­gaged at the same time.

The min­istry should have a team to mon­i­tor roads for sus­tain­abil­ity and con­tin­u­ous re­pair of faded signs or those knocked down by ac­ci­dents, marched on by cows and so on.

A road is not com­plete with­out mark­ings. It is as im­por­tant as cal­i­bra­tion in pi­lot­ing. We there­after hope that state com­mis­sion­ers of works who were present at the meet­ing of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Works should take note of what the min­is­ter said and ex­tend the same cul­ture to state and even ru­ral road net­works. No road in Nige­ria is too ru­ral or too unim­por­tant to go with­out signs and mark­ings.

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