IN many ways, there are close relationships between road networks and the blood vessels in the human body. As the veins and arteries help supply life-giving blood to all parts of the body, we carry our goods and services through roads to all parts of the country.
In the traditional African societies, the importance of maintaining the footpaths and major roads were well recognised. Mechanisms for their good maintenance were put in place. In most cultures, the whole community was often mobilised to weed and grade roads to keep them clean and in good shape year round.
The British colonialists who brought modern road networks had a variant of this culture by establishing Public Works Departments, PWDs, which religiously maintained urban roads and highways.
But today, the story has changed completely. All over our cities, roads are abused and desecrated. People have this despicable habit of pouring dirty liquids and dumping refuse and dead animals on the roads, which constitute eyesores and health hazards.
It has almost become a culture in large urban centres like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Onitsha and others for passersby and motorists to throw refuse indiscriminately from moving vehicles on the roads instead of properly disposing them.
Even, sometimes people abandon dead babies and other corpses on the roads – something considered an abomination in the African traditional societies where it is believed that spirits as well as humans make use of the roads. The same goes for disused vehicles which litter the streets, thus increasing traffic nightmares.
This sorry situation exists because the numerous agencies of government charged with maintaining the roads and ensuring law and order hardly do their jobs.
The refuse-collection agencies, road safety officers, public health officials, sanitary inspectors, police officers and others are pre-occupied with other concerns rather than helping keep our roads and environments decent to make life more meaningful for the people.
These are the departments of government that make governance relevant to the people. Because they have for decades failed to do their jobs, the public no longer feels the presence of government in their lives except the repressive activities of largely corrupt officials.
It is basic human nature not to do the right thing unless hounded by law-enforcement agents of government. Government exists to enforce the laws to make society better for everyone.
It is about time that government resumed performing its critical functions. We want to see the road maintenance agencies, sanitary inspectors, health officials, agriculture extension services, and tax collectors back to work.
The Federal, State, and Local Governments must revitalise their vital governing organs and put them back to work. We must start again to look after our roads and environments. The law enforcement organisations must wake up.