The history of road construction in Nigeria can be traced to the first attempts by Lord Fredrick Lugard to construct a mule road linking Zaria to Zungeru in about 1904. Before this, most pre-colonial Nigerian roads were mere bush paths or well-beaten tracks in the bush.
In 1906, work on Nigeria’s first motorable road began. It linked the city of Ibadan and Oyo town and was proposed to ease the transport of agricultural goods and persons between these two communities. The construction of the road was spearheaded by Lord Lugard as well.
Before this, the dominant mode of overland transportation was by porters and draught animals over bush paths and tracks. By 1914, Nigeria had 3200 kilometers of road. In 1926, the total length of Federal and State roads in Nigeria for motorized vehicles was 51,428.98 kilometers.
Over time, Nigeria’s road network increased as more towns, cities, and villages were connected through motorable roads. In 1978, a highway was built from Lagos to Ibadan, and a branch from this road was subsequently extended east to Benin City. Another expressway ran from Port Harcourt to Enugu.
Since then, Nigeria has constructed about 200,000 kilometers of roads linking various cities, towns, and communities to ensure the easy movement of goods and services. With road transportation still a preferred mode of transport in the country, successive governments have continued to add to Nigeria’s road network.
Project Nigeria: Famous buildings, structures and people in Nigeria
62 years of Project Nigeria: Episode 1
Project Nigeria Episode 3: The first storey building in Nigeria
The 123-year-old Jaekel House
Episode 5: 3 things to know about the Ancient Kano City Walls
Sir Herbert Macaulay: Nigeria’s first Civil Engineer
Episode 8: History of the Abuja National Mosque
Project Nigeria Episode 9: The First Seaport in Nigeria
An overview of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport
Cocoa House Ibadan: The first skyscraper in West Africa
Episode 12: The story of the River Niger Bridge Anambra