Road networks are pivotal in any economy’s development because the prosperity of any nation or region is tied to how accessible supply is. Countries that have experienced economic prosperity rely on efficient transportation systems to provide a conducive environment for manufacturing, retail, and exportation to thrive.
Road networks have been a part of the civilisation of countries and cities. In Texas, there are about 600,000 miles of road networks. This is more than the number of road networks in Europe; as a result, Texas can move goods and services seamlessly.
According to the Government Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Nigeria has about 195,000km of road networks, of which about 60,000km are paved. This is grossly insufficient and laced with many challenges.
Let’s analyse why Nigeria’s roads don’t enable its prosperity. Supply chain only happens because of demand; people always want something. These are called demand signals. When the source of supply isn’t accessible to the market, there will be challenges.
Let’s go back to the transatlantic slave trade. Although it was a heinous crime, slave trade at the time was a business endeavour. Slaves were moved from their locations to the evacuation point (Lagos) via a direct route.
During this period, different wars also ravaged the Oyo Empire. These wars created a lot of paths and road networks and brought direct access to cities. Garrisons would move from city to city, to protect their land. This accessibility did not only help with the war; it allowed farm produce to move from the southwest to the metropolitan cities.
Although the road networks are still in existence, poor maintenance has caused them to deteriorate. What’s even worse is that many of these roads were done out of settlements. Political leaders who wanted to please the traditional leaders or people of different states built roads, and many of those roads were not needed, connected, or the connections not well thought through. Why should it take 10 hours to move from Lagos to Ondo State by road? Yet, it takes 30 minutes from Lekki to Ilaje by boat.
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Let’s analyse another example. Ile Oluji and Ifewara are connected by a 30-minute walk, but via Google Maps, it’s about two and a half hours. This makes moving farm produce or raw materials from the rural areas a herculean task.
We must understand that issues like food shortage will cease when those who have access to the food also have access to the rest of the country. If you visit many farms, you’d realize that there is a lot of waste as farmers don’t have a way to move their produce from where they are to people who need it. To deal with this challenge, road networks need to lead the heartland where production happens to the big cities.
It is one thing to have road networks, it is another thing to shorten the distance between the market and supply. The roads that are deteriorating because of poor maintenance and low-quality materials used for repairs also need to be fixed.
In conclusion, roads are an integral part of the supply chain because logistics are involved. Road networks affect the national supply chain, and in turn, the prosperity of a nation. For Nigeria to begin to thrive, it must look into its road networks.