New concerns over public assets as repair costs top N132 billion a year | Guardian Nigeria News

New concerns over public assets as repair costs top N132 billion a year | Headline News

• Road infrastructure, pipelines, tracks and cables top the list of targets for vandals.
• FG spends NOK 60 billion annually on pipeline repairs
• Stakeholders call for public awareness and stronger sanctions against vandalism and reckless drivers.

Amid a lack of funds to bridge infrastructure gaps across the country, concerns are growing over the routine destruction of available public assets, which currently cost more than N132 billion annually to repair. There is.

Nationwide, theft of transformers and cables, removal of slippers from railroad tracks, tampering with oil pipelines, and vandalism of manhole covers, pedestrian bridge railings, and bridge railings are rampant.

Although estimates for repairs are rough, the study found that pipeline repairs alone cost the federal government at least 60 billion naira annually. Other conservative estimates show that in states where such infrastructure has been restored, an average of N2 billion is spent annually on repairing destroyed public assets.

But concerned stakeholders called for greater awareness of the culture of protecting public property, along with tougher penalties for vandalism, as a deterrent.

Rating agency Agust & Company recently estimated that $3 trillion will be needed over the next 30 years to eliminate Nigeria's infrastructure deficit, and the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan envisages an annual investment of $150 billion to achieve this goal. has been done.

However, looking at the 2024 budget and allocation to key sectors, a meager amount of N1.32 trillion will be allocated to infrastructure development, including the implementation of new projects, construction, and renovation of ministries such as housing, transport, aviation, and water resources. Assigned.

This amount is completely dwarfed by the recent assertion by the Lagos State Government that the state alone needs over N7 trillion to address its infrastructure challenges in 2024. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu revealed that about 60 per cent of the annual road budget is spent on road repair and maintenance. Damage caused by some large vehicles.

The Lagos State Government has allocated 27.3 per cent of its 2023 budget of N1.76 trillion, or a total of N482.86 billion, to road infrastructure.

In fact, many viaducts and pedestrian bridges across the state have been stripped and their hardware and handrails stolen or damaged. Lately, increasingly brazen thugs have been hacking away at concrete dividers on major highways to extract embedded steel beams.

The most affected bridges in Lagos include Apapa Bridge, Ijora Viaduct, Ladipo Bridge and Oshodi Pedestrian Bridge, Dorman Long Bridge, Ojuelegba Bridge, Iyana Isolo Bridge, Otedola Bridge and Carter Bridge. The findings revealed that truck fences installed at facilities such as the Ojuelegba Bridge are routinely vandalized by reckless drivers of lorries.

But vandalism is not unique to Lagos. For example, the management of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company announced that between January and June 2022, a total of 158 distribution substations were destroyed in the company's four franchised states, costing the company over N238.7 million worth of equipment. did.

Solar-powered street lights have been stolen in the Federal Capital Territory. Some utility poles were cut down and taken away along with solar panels and lights.

Additionally, the Nigerian National Oil Company said about N556 billion was lost between August and October 2021 due to pipeline vandalism, sabotage and other issues that led to the closure of more than 17.86 million barrels of crude oil. . NNPC announced that it spent N53.36 billion on this in 2020.

Vandalism of electrical facilities and equipment accounts for more than 60% of recorded power outages nationwide.

Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) suffered monthly losses of over N50 million due to theft of cables, damage to transformers and other vandalism of network infrastructure, while Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) suffered losses due to vandalism of assets. The company announced that it had suffered an estimated total loss of 4 billion naira. This behavior reportedly escalated within his network within six months.

Similarly, in Ogun State, three transmission towers on the 132KVA Paparanto/Ojere dual-circuit transmission line were destroyed and subsequently collapsed, causing power outage in and around Abeokuta.

In the telecommunications sector, the National Telecommunications Commission said that over 50,000 cases of serious destruction to telecommunications infrastructure and facilities have been reported across the country in the past five years.

The Guardian newspaper concluded that motorists also contribute to the destruction of public facilities. The culprits in these incidents are usually articulated trucks carrying 40-foot containers, which are often involved in single or multiple accidents on the highway.

According to the paper, an average of 200,000 barrels per day is lost due to unreasonable damage to pipelines, and the federal government spends a whopping N60 billion annually on repairing and maintaining the damaged sites, a trend that continues in the country. It is said that they are depleting scarce resources. Lai Mohammed, former Minister of Information and Culture.

Infrastructure expert Lookman Oshodi, clearly distressed by the economic losses caused by vandals, said that apart from punitive measures against those who vandalize public facilities, the government should also educate users, especially drivers. He said more needs to be done to raise awareness.

Oshodi said truck drivers must understand the basic rules of road ethics to safely transport goods and machinery across the country.

He said: “If truck drivers are arrested for destroying public infrastructure, there should be mass education of drivers and vehicle owners on what they stand to gain by driving in a city like Lagos. It will be necessary.”

“Drivers who damage infrastructure should be made to pay exorbitant compensation for their damage. If a car owner has adequate insurance, that insurance will cover the cost of the damage. It should be done.”

Mr. Oshodi, who is the Project Director for Arctic Infrastructure, said the Nigerian nation was still grappling with lack of infrastructure.

“Public infrastructure management and maintenance strategies are still relatively low and we have not been able to develop strong expertise to understand the importance, purpose and direction of public infrastructure.

“We still think of public infrastructure as a transactional and political patronage system. Public infrastructure represents the fundamental existence, strength, capacity, direction, wealth, degree of good governance, and “It speaks of prosperity,” he said.

He said that as part of transport infrastructure development, the government is installing traffic lights at strategic locations, taking into account the types of trucks that can pass on a particular axis and the areas on the highway that can be detoured to reach their destinations. advised that it should be installed.

He added that the essence of trucker signals on the highway is to make right-thinking drivers aware of changes in direction and the options available to them.

Mr. Sunny Ejeje, former chairman of the Apapa chapter of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), said it was time for the government to take a firm stand against those who vandalize public infrastructure instead of condoning them when such incidents occur. said that he had come.

He said refusing to do so would continue to cause further discomfort to residents who are the beneficiaries of the infrastructure.

“The destruction of public infrastructure is almost always the result of negligence, so perpetrators must be prosecuted individually. In addition to impounding cars, the government can arrest and prosecute individuals, and the companies they work for.” should be made to pay compensation for damages.”

Dr. Elizabeth Eterigo, President, Association of Women Professional Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), said there was a need to strengthen the enforcement of existing laws to deter vandalism, adding that such acts should be treated as criminal offenses, punishable by fines and fines. He added that he should be punished. Imprisonment.

“Addressing this problem and ensuring that the country's economic growth potential is not compromised first requires a concerted effort by the public, government agencies, and law enforcement. Utilities, private organizations, and communities. “We will work with groups and other stakeholders to prevent vandalism through collective efforts such as hiring security guards, installing closed-circuit television cameras, and implementing access control systems,” Eterijo said.

He urged governments to prioritize the safety and health of infrastructure, while advising them to invest in new technologies to help detect and prevent vandalism and develop awareness campaigns.

Mr. Eterijo said: “Assets such as pipelines, power grids, communications networks and public infrastructure are so important to our daily lives that we must protect them.

“Preventing vandalism of critical infrastructure requires a multifaceted approach that includes education, awareness, improved security measures, cybersecurity, collaboration, and reporting and response mechanisms.

“By taking proactive steps to prevent vandalism of critical infrastructure, we can protect our communities and ensure the continued functioning of essential services,” she said.


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