Vandalising Infrastructure: Impunity Must Stop

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Increasingly, vandals and arsonists have taken over our landscape with impunity, catching security agencies napping.

Over the years, electricity infrastructure was the worst hit across the country as critical components of the grid and distribution are plundered to the detriment of depleting national resources. It is reported in some instances that some communities remain without electricity for decades following the criminal tendency of a few buoyed by uncommon kleptomania.

In major cities across the country, manholes have been vandalized, leaving citizens to untold hazard even as the open holes have become a leeway for criminals to escape through them as soon as they perpetrate their untoward character.

It is disturbing that even expansion joints on bridges across the country have not been spared by these vandals who have perfected their stock in trade by pillaging essential parts of these infrastructures.

There was a period also that the rail lines was the attraction of these thieves who pull off the iron components of the tracks, thus rendering them unserviceable. Millions of Naira has been lost to these selfish, wicked characters.

Just recently, the 2nd Niger Bridge connecting Onitsha in the South East to Asaba in South South was reportedly vandalized and the extent of damage experts say is colossal even though no figure has been put to it in terms of what it would cost to carry out remediation.

Piqued by the damage, Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Dave Umahi lamented the vandalisation of infrastructure on the Bridge, describing it as cruel.

We learnt the social media was awash with video clips of the vandalised part of the bridge.

It was observed that some rail fittings installed on the bridge were uprooted and carted away by the criminals.

Sadly, the nation would have to lose enormous scarce resources to fix these damages each time we experience such vandals at work. It is therefore imperative to gear up surveillance on these critical infrastructures.

These vandals must be checked!

It is disturbing that these vandals are heartless and unperturbed by the consequences that could follow their barbaric acts. These bridges become prone to accidents if they are left bare without the fittings.

 Mr Umahi who condemned the vandalisation of the bridge, stressed that the incident amounted to a sabotage of key national infrastructure.

“It is heartrending that the facilities are being vandalised by those who are meant to own the benefits it serves”, he said.

He said a technical team has been directed to inspect, evaluate and reinstate the damaged parts of the bridge.

Mr Umahi appealed to residents of the area and motorists to assist the Ministry by keeping watch over the bridge and reporting vandals to security agencies.

“The Federal Ministry of Works shall promptly and handsomely reward any person or group who nabs or gives useful information on the identity of perpetrators of vandalisation of facilities on the 2nd Niger Bridge or any of our road infrastructure facilities nationwide”, he said.

The Minister vowed that the Federal Government will prosecute anyone caught vandalising the second Niger Bridge and other infrastructure across the country.

The bridge was commissioned on May 23, 2023 by former President Muhammadu Buhari shortly before leaving office.

The construction of the new bridge began during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan and was abandoned when Buhari took over but  on September 1, 2018, work recommenced in ernest. 

The bridge traverses Asaba in Delta State, South-south, Nigeria, to Ozubulu, Ogbaru and other communities in Anambra State, South-east, Nigeria.

We urge the relevant agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting critical national infrastructure to be alert to its duty by looking beyond oil installations but bridges, rail lines, electrical installations among others should form part of its coverage. Therefore, it is only when they are governing these spaces adequately can they be given kudos as living up to their bidding.

It would not be out of place for the communities through which the bridge traverse be engaged in vigilance activities by the security agencies and the Ministry of Works as part of concerted efforts to check the activities of the vandals.

We call for motorized patrols on some of these infrastructures as that would provide a swifter response to these nefarious acts.      

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