Advice to Imo State Government: Emulate what works!!

I  sought for employment at the Texas Department ofTransportation, an agency responsible for construction and maintenance of road networks in the State of Texas for one reason only, and that is, in addition to make a living, but to know the working mechanism of the Department that makes the State of Texas to have one of the best road networks in the world. So, with my experience as a Civil Rights Investigator enforcing Titles VII of Civil Rights Law of 1964 as amended and VIII of Civil Rights Law of 1968, respectively, with the Texas Commission of Civil Rights, I was able to secure my present job with the agency.

I immediately decided to study how a large State ofTexas offers her citizens one of the best road networks in the world. To appreciate this discussion, consider that Austin is the capital of State of Texas. From Austin to the Southwest City of El Paso is about 560 miles, and from the City of Orange nearHouston to the City El Paso is 834 miles. In these highways, there are no single pot holes, but have about six to eight demarcated highways beautifully engineered, constructed and maintained. I found the structure of TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) appetizing like fresh succulent strawberry fruits that at times, during my many trips to other Texas Cities in the execution of my duties, in lonely highways, I would park my official vehicle and became emotional for our country Nigeria.

The structure of Nigerian’s Ministry of Works, the Ministry responsible for road constructions and maintenance, need a total overhaul. The colonial set up is not working; it is a dilapidation of an ancient system. Let us emulate what works.

Many of the critics would argue nonsensically and blindly that how dare you compare the country of Nigeria with Texas?Texas has money and NigeriaTexas motor able. May be, the government of Nigeria or other States could emulate what works. As vast as the State of Texas, every nooks and corners of the State are maintained with pride and a sense of devotion to the people of Texas and the nation. The most important point to note here is that leaders of the United States of America love their country.

In Nigeria, our leaders trick themselves by thinking they are tricking the citizens, to the extent that after each successive government, there is nothing to account for, but perpetuation of decayed infrastructures and without shame. They do not invest to empower the people to strive for excellence. The leaders employ “yes Sir” employees who care only to purchase countless properties in Dubai and other Western capitals. So, permit me to return to my main point of this write-up. 

Using Imo State as a model, this is how the State of Texas structured the TxDOT for effectiveness and constructive results for sincere accomplishments:

The State of Texas has 25 districts and for purpose of illustration, Imo State will be structured into 3 Districts because of its size with a Professional Engineer heading each district. The Professional Engineer with a civil engineering degree is called a District Engineer. The District Offices are Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe. Each district is divided according to geographical size into Area Offices.

Each Area Office is headed by an Area Engineer with a civil engineering degree. Area Office is divided into Maintenance Offices and is headed by a technician with OND certificate with knowledge about road maintenance, patching with hot mix and asphalt. The Maintenance Office leader is known as Maintenance Supervisor. For illustration purposes, using the vicinity that I am very familiar, and that is Owerri District, Area Engineers will be posted to Okolochi Area Office, Obinze Area Office, Uzoagba Area Office, Iho Area Office, Obibi Ezena Area Office, Emekuku Area Office, Ihiagwa Area Office, Mbaise Area Office, and Ngor Opkala Area Office. In Ihiagwa Area Office, Maintenance offices are sited midway at Eziobo and Ihiagwa. 

 The Eziobo Maintenance Office is assigned its highways and bye-ways, and is responsible for construction, beautification and maintenance of its road networks. The Eziobo Maintenance Office is responsible for roads leading to Ihiagwa, and to Umuekwune and Emeabiam. Okolochi Maintenance Office will control other roads leading to other communities. Ihiagwa Maintenance Office is in charge of roads leading to Obibiezena, through midway to Obinze, and through midway to Nekede. Nekede Maintenance Office is responsible for roads through its boundaries with Ihiagwa and road networks to Capital City.

For better illustration, Owerri District Engineer is responsible for hiring area engineers in all area offices. In turn, Area Engineer hires Maintenance Supervisors and Maintenance Supervisor hires his crew. Each district has its Bridge and Design Divisions. The Bridge and Design Divisions are responsible for designing and construction of bridges in its district. Occasionally, Districts can consult with engineering contractors to build complex bridges in the district. Let us examine another familiar Maintenance Office, Emekuku Maintenance Office. This maintenance office is responsible for Emekuku Emii Road, Emekuku to the boundaries of Uzoagba, Egbu Road to Uratta and Ihatta Ogida,Egbu Road to Naze and Agbala towns. This is just an insight how Texas Department of Transportation is structured.  

Looking at Owerri District, one can easily noticed that every roadway in the district is effectively covered.

The Federal Government can institute a Federal Highway Administration whose responsibility includes funding of all Federal Highways in the nation. The FHA is part of Federal Ministry of Works and is headed by an administrator that overseas all Federal Highway contracts. The Administrator must be a person with high moral integrity who cannot sell his/her soul when surrounded with billions of Naira to pay contractors. This administrator must be an individual of impeccable record who cannot demand 10% bribe before awarding any road contract.  

By using Owerri District Module, one can see significant job creation for school leavers, and a bite to unemployment, criminal activities and a booming economy. The question is: Can this module be adopted and implemented in the country, the answer is yes, but our leaders are naïve and intimidated to attempt new ventures. Nigeria can implement this module if it wants to do so.

The Owerri District can be any district in Nigeria, but the question is who will bail the cat? This is my 2 cents to improve road networks in the country. Our narrow highways need serious and truthful evaluations for sincere improvement. Folks, the condition of Nigerian road networks are attributable to leaders who do not regard good road networks as development. In 1979 when Shagari Administration came into being, Owerri urban roads were in shambles, but Dee Sam Mbakwe invested in the constructions, maintenances and improvements of roads, that resulted to the beautification of Owerri. Texas roads are engineered and constructed by human beings with one head only.

In my office today at the Equal Employment Opportunity Section, I do not believe that my American colleagues are better Civil Rights Investigators than me. Why is it that Texas Roads are better than ours? Why are we tricking ourselves thinking we are tricking someone else? I have asked this question before: Does it mean our leaders are not aware of Nigerian’s bad road network? It is beyond human comprehension that even Federal roads devastated by civil war still remain untouched since 1970 that saw the end of war. When a famous American footballer, Michael Vick, was involved in organized dog and dog fights where the strong dogs killed the weak, a respected U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Senator Robert Bird,  stood at the floor of U.S Senate Chamber, continued uninterrupted to scream, Barbaric! Barbaric!! Barbaric!!!

As for me, I am screaming on top of my voice the same word with regard to road networks in the Southeast zone as BARBARIC, BARBARIC, BARBARIC, BARBARIC and BARBARIC. It is a shame what goes on in the country.

Ndewo daa,

Mazi Henry Otulle Eke writes from Austin, Texas, United State! Mazi Eke is the author of Great Loss of Innocence, a story of a boy who lived through the deadly Nigerian – Biafran War, 1966- 1970. Mazi Eke is the editor and publisher of Town Crier Newsletter, a bi-monthly newsletter serving Austin, Texas, and its environs.

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