Nigeria launches $2.4bn plan to transform its road network

The government of Nigeria said it will approve $2.4bn for the construction of 17 roads and bridges across 15 states.

This will keep Nigerians "busy" and put food on their tables, a government minister said.

Mike Onolememen, the minister of works, told journalists that the projects will transform Nigeria’s road network and create about 13,600 jobs for up to five years.

"These new projects will help to catalyse economic growth, because people must be busy," he said. "There are Nigerians who will be engaged to do these jobs and all that."

"We need to employ these Nigerians," he added, "and if we get them busy, they should be able to put food on their tables."

Nigeria’s 120,546-mile road network is in bad condition. A combination of heavy traffic flow and poor maintenance has results in frequent jams and a fatality rate of 5,000 people a year, among the highest in the world. 

In the north central areas of Danja and Sabuwa, the system is reported to have broken down altogether.

The degree of stress on Nigeria’s roads was one of the main arguments in favour of building a $13bn high-speed rail system. The hope is that this would take heavy freight off the roads and reduce the pressure on road maintenance. 

The difficulty is compounded by the high cost of road building in the country. The Nigerian website Punch reported last week that its investigation had showed that the cost of building a kilometre of motorway was up to three times higher than the African average. 

Another report said the cost of constructing roads in Nigeria was "outrageous". The Centre for Social Justice report, "Road Infrastructure Development in Nigeria (2009-2013)", said: "a kilometre of paved road in Nigeria is being constructed for an outrageous amount ranging from $2.2m to over $4.3m".

Photograph: Lagos, Nigeria is notorious for its poor roads and frequent traffic jams (Dolapo Falola/Wikimedia Commons)

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