Man must chop! Informal Road Menders and the precarity of transport infrastructure in Nigeria
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the agency and everyday struggles for socioeconomic survival of Nigeria's Informal Road Menders (IRMs), and the micropolitics of road maintenance.
Paper long abstract:
The Nigerian road transport infrastructure is arguably among the worst maintained on the continent. This has led to the emergence of Informal Road Menders (IRMs) who employ crude implements to cushion the effects of potholes on inter-state roads in exchange for monetary gifts from road users. This paper examines the agency and everyday struggles for socioeconomic survival of Nigeria's IRMs, and the micropolitics of road maintenance. It argues that risks and uncertainties are serving as a socioeconomic resource through which IRMs and road users leverage the precarious road transport infrastructure in the country. The study draws on interview of IRMs, commercial transport operators and private vehicle owners, officials of the Nigerian Police Force, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, and members of roadside communities. These are complimented by informal conversations about the activities of the IRMs witnessed and initiated by the researcher while commuting in public interstate buses on several occasions within the last quarter of 2018.
Making a living on & off the road - trucking and the politics of movement and stoppage in Africa