Nigeria Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Nigeria has a network of 195,000 kilometers of road, of which in 2017 60,000 kilometers were paved and 135,000 kilometers unpaved. The main road network is divided into 32,000 kilometers of federal road and 31,000 kilometers of state road.

The country has an extensive network of paved roads, significantly more than the other countries in the region. However, the road network is generally moderately to poorly maintained. In Nigeria, most major cities are connected by 2×2 roads called expressways, although the number of grade separated intersections is limited to major connections. Lagos has a limited network of grade-separated roads, although pedestrians and other slow traffic may also be encountered. The capital Abuja is a new city and has a much more developed and organized road network. Motorways in Abuja count up to 2×4 lanes. The highway network officially measures 1,194 kilometers, but most do not meet western design requirements, although they often have 2 lanes in each direction with a central reservation.

All parts of the country are connected by main roads, with an A prefix. Local roads have an F prefix. There would also be an E prefix, for expressways.

Nigeria originally drove on the left, a consequence of being a British colony. On April 2, 1972, the country switched to driving on the right, bringing it more in line with neighboring countries, which were French colonies.

Road management

Road management in Nigeria is divided between the federal government, the states and the municipalities. The major roads make up the Federal Highway System of Nigeria, this includes all A roads, also called trunk road, as well as many connecting roads. As a rule, all roads of any significance for through traffic are under federal management. The states manage the more secondary roads.

Federal road management is performed by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA). FERMA was established in 2002 and is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing (FMWH). The federally managed road network covers approximately 26,000 kilometers.


Colonial Period

Nigeria was a British colony between 1900 and 1960. During this period, the road network was already relatively extensive. In 1926 the Roads Board was established to improve the existing roads into an integrated network of main and secondary roads. Between 1946 and 1960, the British invested significantly in the Nigerian road network, and road numbering was also introduced, with 1, 2- and 3-digit road numbers. Highway 1 ran from Lagos via Ibadan and Ilorin to the Niger River at Jebba. There was at that point the only bridge over the Niger built in British colonial times, this was actually a railway bridge but had a concrete track so that it could also be used by road traffic.

The Niger and Benue rivers were formidable obstacles to road traffic in the colonial period, with mostly risky ferry services and almost no bridges. A striking feature of the road network was the isolated location of Lagos, at the end of a cul-de-sac. There was only one road connection to and from Lagos (Highway 1). In Lagos, only one bridge to Lagos Island had been built during the British colonial period, the Carter Bridge originally built in 1901. The roads built during British colonial times often had a design speed of 30 to 50 mph (65 – 80 km/h). In British colonial times people drove on the left.

The first 20 years after independence

In 1960 Nigeria became independent, at that time the Nigerian oil industry started to be developed, oil production started in 1957 and was scaled up in the 1960s. In 1965 the first modern bridge over the Niger opened in Onitsha. The Nigerian Civil War, largely fought in the Niger Delta, slowed oil production between 1967 and 1970. The large oil revenues allowed the Nigerian government to invest a lot of money in the road network, especially in the 1970s. roads built and improved on a large scale. The design speed of major roads was increased to 100 km/h and roads between major cities were doubled. It was during this time that the construction company Julius Berger emerged, one of the largest construction companies in Africa.

The 1970s was a period of great development and changes in the road network. The current road numbering was introduced in 1971. On April 2, 1972, Nigeria switched from left to right driving. An important reason was that all neighboring countries drove on the right. In the 1970s, joint ventures were also established with foreign car manufacturers to open car factories in Nigeria. Peugeots and Volkswagens in particular were produced for the local market.

Dual carriageways were built in Nigeria in the 1970s, especially to and from Lagos. Several large bridges were built in Lagos itself, the original Carter Bridge from 1901 was replaced by a wider bridge in 1973, the Eko Bridge opened in 1975 and in 1976 the construction of the 11.8 km long Third Mainland Bridge began. delivered only in 1990. In 1977, the Lagos – Badagry Expressway opened, a dual carriageway forming a new western approach road to Lagos, constructed through a swampy coastal region where there were previously no roads. In 1978, the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway (E1) opened Nigeria’s first highway-like road. In Lagos, the Apapa – Oshodi Expressway opened in 1978and in 1979 the Ring Road.

After 1980

Nigeria had large outstanding debts due to infrastructure construction in the 1970s and in the 1980s the price of oil collapsed due to a surplus of production, known as ‘oil glut’. The economy of Nigeria also suffered from the one-sided focus on oil production, agriculture lagged behind and more food had to be imported, despite the fact that Nigeria is a large and often fertile country. Substantial savings had to be made and in the 1970s the focus was mainly on new construction and almost no maintenance. As a result, the condition of the Nigerian infrastructure deteriorated sharply in the 1980s and 1990s. A large part of the road network was in poor condition at the end of the 20th century. While Nigeria had the most extensive road network in West Africa and Central Africa,

In addition, a large part of the finances during that period went to the construction of Abuja as the new capital of Nigeria. The completely new city was mainly built during the 1980s, including a modern road network. In 1991, the capital officially moved from Lagos to Abuja. In the 1980s, Nigeria’s car industry also shrank sharply, eventually declining domestic production to zero.

In the 21st century

It took a relatively long time for Nigerian road construction to recover. The country modernized road management in 2002 with the establishment of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency. After 2000, several road network modernizations were carried out around Lagos, including the widening of the Lagos – Badagry Expressway between 2009 and 2018, the modernization of the Lagos – Ibadan Expresswaybetween 2013 and 2018. Outside of Lagos, the motorway to Ibadan was extended further north, which has been opened in phases to Ilorin. Between 2018 and 2022, a second, much wider bridge over the Niger River was built at Onitsha. A dual carriageway between Kano and Maiduguri was completed between 2013 and 2021, partly by widening the A3 and partly by building a new 2×2 road north of the older A237.


The signage isn’t very frequent, and there doesn’t seem to be one system. In general it can be said that the signage consists of green signs with white letters, although blue signage is also known. In the big cities, signage is sometimes integrated with advertising or motto signs such as “Pay your taxes”. The signage is in English. More modern signs show influences from the United States, such as the use of exit-only.

Road numbering

The main road network consists of A-roads, which are numbered in a grid, consisting of four single-digit roads (A1 to A9) and the rest consists of three-digit roads, with the first two digits referring to the roads that are connected, so is the A121 connects the A1 and A2. These numbers increase towards the north. Double-digit roads seem to be rare, but they do exist, such as the A11 and A13 in the north of the country.

Main roads

The A Roads of Nigeria.

  • A1 Lagos – Ibadan – Ilorin – Kontagora – Sokoto – border with Niger
  • A2 Port Harcourt – Warri – Benin City – Kaduna – Zaria – Canoe – Niger border
  • A3 Port Harcourt – Aba – Enugu – Jos – Maiduguri – border with Cameroon
  • A4 Calabar – Ikom – Katsina Ala – Numan – Maiduguri
  • A5 Lagos – Abeokuta – Ibadan
  • A7 Ilorin – Kalama – border with Benin
  • A8 Numan – Jimeta
  • A9 Kano – Katsina – border with Niger
  • A11 Katabu – Pambewuga
  • A13 Jimeta – Bama
Major Roads in Nigeria
A1 • A2 • A3 • A4 • A5 • A6 • A7 • A8 • A9 • A11 • A13 • A121 • A122 • A123 • A124 • A125 • A126 • A231 • A232 • A233 • A234 • A235 • A236 • A237 • A342 • A343 • A344• A345E1

Road safety

Road safety in Nigeria is of a low level. In 2019, 39,000 Nigerians were reported to be killed in traffic every year. The number of deaths is much higher than the official figures indicate.

Nigeria Road Network