By Abdullberqy U Ebbo
Those familiar with the activities of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello will testify to his keen attention to the state of road infrastructure in the state since assuming power on May 29, 2015. Several analysts, observers and the larger indigenes have even lauded his interventions and even highlighted the impacts of a good network of roads in boosting the economy of the state.
Niger State has the largest landmass in Nigeria, and thus it’s easy to see why it has one of the longest routes of Trunk “A” roads in the country. These Trunk “A” roads, otherwise known as federal roads, are designed to be maintained by the federal government. Sadly, at the beginning of this administration, these roads were in a deplorable state.
This had caused hardship and restricted transportations to and fro the State, and the Governor’s immediate interventions were to rehabilitate some of the roads based on grievances shared by residents and motorists. And this was despite scarce resources available to the administration.
Expectedly, disbursements of the State’s meagre resources to rehabilitate Trunk “A” roads have met both praises and criticisms. Some of these criticisms are based on misunderstanding of the status of these roads. There were indigenes and residents who had no idea the roads rehabilitated by the state government are actually responsibility of the federal government. This belief has fuelled criticisms of some of those mounting pressure on the state government to take over responsibilities of the government.
The state government’s quick response to rehabilitate Tegina road and Suleja –Abuja road, which are exclusive duty of the federal government, was necessary in view of complaints registered by the people. The case of rehabilitation of Suleja – Minna road, which attracts massive traffic of users, has been a trending topic these past days. The administration identified and recognised the essence of the road and disbursed resources to rehabilitate it as it’s the link between Niger State and the FCT.
Unfortunately, the state government’s sincere effort in the rehabilitation of Suleja –Minna road was sabotaged, as the road attracted quite an unusual traffic of heavy-duty vehicles that have left the road in a pitiably bad state. This has again restored the problems previously encountered in plying the potholed roads.
We have to appeal to the federal government because of continuous abandonments of contracts awarded to fix the roads. Niger State has vast federal roads. Aside from Suleja – Minna road, the others are Lapai – Lambata – Bida road, Bida – Lemu – Zungeru – Tegina road, Gidigori – Kagara – Mokwa road, Makera – Kontagora road, Kontagora – Yawuri road, Kontagora – Rijau road and Agaie – Baro road.
The discontinuation of dualisation and rehabilitation of Suleja – Minna road, initiated and awarded by past administrations, necessitated the state’s intervention. In fact, as far back as 2014, contract for rehabilitation of Lambata-Lapai and Agaie-Katcha-Baro roads was awarded, but contractors abandoned the site as soon as the rehabilitation was flagged off.
So, at this point, and noting the economic downturn, we have to be honest to ourselves. We have to appeal to the federal government to intervene and complement the state government in building road infrastructure across the state. Instead of the government to earmark more money to the rehabilitation of Trunk “A” roads, with a backlog of other responsibilities of the state waiting for intervention, all stakeholders must join hands to appeal to the federal government to understand the conditions of the roads.
There’s no denying the setbacks brought forth by the deteriorated state of these roads. The state has quite limited resources and so there’s no better time to draw the attention of the federal government to contracts it awarded and abandoned and state of the roads completely neglected.
Continuous maintenance of federal roads isn’t a sustainable venture by a government that has a lot of electoral promises to fulfil in the face of an economic recession. We don’t have to point out the proximity of Niger State to FCT, and how a bad road as that of the essential Suleja – Abuja road deters both investors and tourists to the state.