Country Listing

Nigeria Table of Contents



The road system began in the early 1900s essentially as a feeder network for the new railroads. In the 1920s, the government established a basic grid of two north-south trunk roads from Lagos and Port Harcourt to Kano, and several east-west roads, two north and two south of the natural division created by the Niger and Benue rivers. In later decades, this system was expanded until most state capitals and large towns were accessible by paved road. In 1978 an expressway was constructed from Lagos to Ibadan, and a branch from this route was later extended east to Benin City. Another expressway connected Port Harcourt with Enugu. In 1990 Nigeria had 108,000 kilometers of roads, of which 30,000 kilometers were paved, 25,000 kilometers were gravel, and the rest were unimproved earth. Carrying 95 percent of all the nation's goods and passengers, the roads constituted by far the most important element in the transportation network.

The poor maintenance of past years forced the government to shift its emphasis in the 1980s from constructing new roads to repairing existing ones. Massive traffic jams were reported in most large cities, and there were long delays in the movement of goods. Safety standards were low; in 1988 more than 30,000 accidents and 8,000 highway deaths were reported.

Data as of June 1991