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Deplorable roads, traffic gridlock, major worries for travellers during Yuletide

Lawmakers Contribute Money To Rehabilitate Federal Road In Kogi

As the Yuletide celebration approaches, federal roads in Kogi State have become a source of concern to many commuters and motorists plying them. It would be recalled that traffic snarls have been a recurring decimal on the roads every Christmas period. Many travelers have always got stuck in traffic jams that keep them on the road for 48 hours, especially before the Murtala Muhammed bridge along Abuja- Lokoja road.

Also, the 65km Okene-Osara-Lokoja road, which takes about 45 minutes drive before, takes about three hours now because of several potholes on it. Being a single lane road with the heavy traffic flow, heavy vehicles often break down on it.

Similarly, Abuja-Gegu-Lokoja Road, which is still under construction many years after contract for it was awarded, has remained a death trap.

The 196-kilometer highway is one of the most critical roads in the country, being the major link between the North and South.

The road is also very significant to the survival of the nation, because it boosts economic activities in the country. It has remained one of the busiest roads in the country today.

So worrisome is the fact some portions of the road that has been constructed are now giving way to potholes. Investigation reveals that this is as a result of the shoddy job done by the contractors on the road.

Speaking to The Guardian, a motorist who plies the road, Muhammed Yau, expressed disappointment stressing that the contract was awarded to four different contractors for prompt delivery but that could not be achieved.

Other users of the road who spoke did not only condemn the neglect of the road, they also raised the alarm that if nothing was done on it soon, agonies of the users would be compounded.

Obajana/Kabba/Ilorin road has been a road dreaded by many travelers, because of its dilapidated nature. Many motorists avoid it, as they would rather take the longer route through Okene to Kabba.

Some of the communities along the road have been cut off, until some lawmakers from Kogi in the National Assembly, which included Tajudeen Yusuf, James Faleke, Buba Jibrin and Sunday Karimi pooled resources together to grade the road and make it accessible sometime in July this year.

Before the intervention, business had been dead, but currently, women are selling yams by the roadside because their means of livelihood has been restored with the grading of the road.

One of the lawmakers Tajudeen Yusuf, who spoke recently at the NUJ press week on the cause of the delay in the project explained: 
”The unfortunate thing about Obajana road is there is high-level politics that delayed work on the road. I was privileged to be in the National Assembly between 2011 and 2015, I made several efforts and at a point I confronted Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and I want you to quote me and she showed me about N3bn earmarked for that road.

He disclosed that there was high-powered politics by the Dangote group to do the road so as to be seen as carrying out its Corporate Social Responsibility and secondly to get tax relief as well as to introduce cement road construction to Nigeria.

Yusuf said for these reasons the road was delayed, but unfortunately, results is the only means we can check efforts.

“The Government has acceded to his conditions, tax relief has been signed, however, I stand to say that it is not the way to go, we should not allow those who are privileged to take our commonwealth in the manner he is doing to coerce us into submission at all times. That is my position and there is no reason to shy away from it. It is a good thing the road is going to be done, but what is going into that road is bigger than what would have done that road.”

The black spots on this route are at the Kotonkarfe just before the Bridge. Travellers along the Itobe-Ajaokuta-Okene road, which has totally collapsed, have been lamenting over the harrowing experiences which will worsen during the Christmas season.

It is among the Federal roads in the country facing serious deterioration. A traveller, Itodo John, wants the government to urgently fix the road because its condition has made it a haven for armed robbers.

Motorists and other users in Kogi State, have continued to tell their tales of woes from the harrowing experiences in the hands of these men of the underworld which is usually taken to another level during the festive period.

Another disturbing trend on most of the federal roads that traverse Kogi State is the thriving business of kidnapping which the poor state of the roads has made easy.

The Kabba-Isanlu-Egbe-Ilorin road is another bad road in the state though the recent contract awarded by former President Jonathan was not completely carried out as it was tarred from Kabba to Ayetoro.

A trip from Kabba gives the visitor a brief relief because the smooth ride on the road terminates after five minutes.

The road which links Kogi and Kwara states traversing Kabba-Bunu, Yagba West and Ijumu local councils is one of the most abandoned roads. There are skeletal rehabilitations on the road by some council areas. Construction work on Okene Road is ongoing, but at a pace that cannot salvage the situation, considering the high traffic flow on the single lane road.

Despite NDDC Intervention, Roads In Cross River Are In Bad Shape
From Tina Todo, Calabar
The Calabar/Itu and Calabar/Ikom federal road have recently received partial rehabilitation by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Road users can now ply the roads without hitches. The usual four hours journey has now reduced to one hour 15 minutes from Calabar to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital.

The Idundun–Ikang road is yet to receive such intervention as commuters and motorists lament their ordeal on the road.

Some of the road users of Calabar/ Itu and Calabar/Ikom roads commended the federal government for reducing the risk of accidents and gridlock experienced in the past few months before the intervention of NDDC.

They, however, called on federal government to dualise the roads to enable easy access and also reduce the risk of accidents which has been on the increase.

Mr Umo Bassey said: “Two months ago, you find it difficult to travel to Uyo without spending four to five hours on a journey of one hour 15 minutes, but thanks to the federal government for the recent repairs on the road. Yesterday I was in Uyo, I spent just one hour on the road.

“We still need to expand the road for easy access. There is need for it because they are linking to other states and the traffic on daily basis is heavy.”

Also narrating his experience, a taxi driver who plies Akaifa down to Etap-Ayip, Mr. Gorge Ekanem, said most of the roads in the State are in good condition, but more intervention is needed on some few roads that have been neglected by government.

He said: “The roads are good but we need maintenance, especially along Akai-Ifa to Idundun in Akpabuyo Council Area. The road is too bad. Government has neglected the road for too long. The road is destroying our vehicles. We call on the federal government for intervention just as they have done on the Calabar/Itu and Calabar/Ikom roads”.

Meanwhile, some of the State roads with potholes have not received proper attention from the government. Such roads include Goldie Street, Queen Duke Street in Calabar South Council Area, Parliamentary Extension road and some parts of the highway in Calabar Municipal.   However, it was observed that all the potholes on the 12km Carnival road have been repaired.

A taxi driver, Mr. Felix Abgo, said: “They have started rehabilitating the roads along the highway because of the Christmas carnival. One of the potholes along Ekong Ita was recently patched.

“I have seen some that have also been worked on at the Parliamentary extension but I don’t think they should wait until when Christmas or carnival is approaching before fixing roads. It should be the duty of government to always make sure that our roads are in good shape”.

A trader along Duke Street lamented over the dilapidated road, saying the potholes right in front of his shop have been a death trap for customers and passersby.

He said in order to avoid the potholes vehicle owners preferred taking the pathway.

“Just this morning a vehicle almost knocked down a sachet water seller right in front of my shop because of these potholes. If you look very well you will see that we have to block vehicles from taking that road with that big stone. That will prevent them from coming this way.

“If the roads are properly maintained by the State government such accidents will be avoided. I was made to understand that this road is a State road. Government can prevent such accident from occurring by putting the roads in order.

“We appeal to the State government to rehabilitate this road before it takes someone’s life especially now that we are approaching Christmas.”

Enugu Govt Spends Billions On Federal Roads, As Reconstruction Commences On Enugu-Onitsha Road
From Lawrence Njoku (Enugu)
That there is plethora of near impassable federal roads in the southeast is no longer news. What could be news, however, is whether any practical action that could remedy the sufferings of users of the roads has been put in place. From Enugu to Port Harcourt, Enugu to Onitsha, Aba- Ikot-Ekpene, Aba-Owerri and Owerri to Onitsha among other federal roads in the zone are death traps. Lives have been lost on them, human hours wasted, and goods worth billions of naira lost on the roads.

Some sections of the Enugu–Onitsha road got so bad and abandoned those people living around the areas resorted to farming on them, while dangerous gullies took over the rest.

Apparently perturbed by the sufferings of the road users and with the approaching Yuletide, Enugu state government decided to take the bull by the horn by rehabilitating some dilapidated federal highways within the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who had earlier declared “operation close every pothole in Enugu urban” took the matter of federal roads in the state to the State Executive Council, where quotations were sought for the works.

The first to receive approval was the Enugu-Oji River-Ugwuoba- Onitsha old road axis awarded to the Anbeez Services. Although it is a federal road, the immediate past administration of Sullivan Chime rehabilitated it to the boundary of the state with Awka in Anambra State. But no sooner had the road been done than all manner of vehicles plying Enugu to Onitsha, Delta, Edo and other parts of the Southwest resorted to using it, leading to its collapse.

Few weeks later another approval was given for the award of contract for the rehabilitation of the federal government road along 9th Mile (Mechanic Village)–Egede Junction –Umuoka – Okpatu- Army Checkpoint and additional works at Holy Catholic Church Ochima Town to Opi Junction.

State Commissioner for Information, Dr. Godwin Udeuhele, noted that the contract, which was awarded to Comag Steel and Construction Company Limited at the sum of N114,841,938.75, was shaped by the need to curb the negative effects of the dilapidated sections of the road and boost the socio-economic fortunes of the state.

The government also approved the award of contract for the rehabilitation of 18.5km federal government road along Opi-Obollo Afor, and additional works at Amalla and 9th Mile internal roads from Ekochin Junction-Mechanic Village junction, measuring 2.5km.

The contract which was awarded to Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) at the cost of N1,356,587,804.56k, according to the state government, was part of its commitment towards improving the lives of the people by creating enabling environment for safe and smooth transportation in the state, especially during the forthcoming Yuletide.

Majority of the rehabilitation works have been completed, thereby improving vehicular movements on the roads.

Chief Udoka Ugwu, who described the Ninth Mile roundabout rehabilitation as remarkable said: “I really thank the governor him for this rescue mission, because other politicians in the state have used this road as campaign tool, only to abandon it later.

“You should recall that it was only when Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, spent over two hours on this junction that he remembered that federal government should do the road. But what happened after? Did he return to the road till today? He should go and thank Ugwuanyi for saving his face.”

Also as part of efforts to give some federal roads in the zone a facelift, the federal government has begun reconstruction of some portions of the dilapidated Enugu-Port Harcourt and Enugu-Onitsha highways.

When The Guardian visited the dilapidated Enugu-Port Harcourt highway, it was discovered that some potholes along the highway have been covered with red earth, even as excavation work had started on one side of the dual carriage roads thereby reducing vehicular movement to a single lane.

Although the extent to which the work could go was not ascertained, sources said it is part of government’s effort to ensure that Nigerians move with ease on the roads.

Shortly before they quit office last year, the Goodluck Jonathan administration had begun the rehabilitation of the Okigwe- Umuahia axis of the road.

Mr John Onuoha, a transporter said that his prayer was for the government to give the road the attention it deserves, stressing that it has been hell for some of us who travel the road daily”.

“We manage the road from here to any destination and spending longer hours. But if they can fix the road, it will make our movements easy and reduce the level of carnage on them. Right now, we are doing one lane and two as the case many be, but it is not the best. This is a dual carriage road and should be seen as such”, he said.

Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has appealed to the federal government to refund the over N22b the state has spent in rehabilitating federal roads in the State. The governor who spoke when the House of Representatives’ Committee on Works paid him a courtesy call at Government House, Enugu, lamented the deplorable condition of federal roads in the South-East including the popular Enugu-Onitsha expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt road, Enugu-Abakaliki road among others, noting that their rehabilitation was expedient.

“The negative impact of these bad roads can never be over-emphasised as movement is impeded, socio-economic lives is hampered, comfort of the people is adversely affected,” he said.

Ugwuanyi had earlier also played host to the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Habitant led by its Chairman, Obinna Chidoka. He urged the federal government to take urgent action to curb the adverse effects of gully erosion in the State.

The Chairmen, House of Representative Committee on Works, Toby Okechukwu, praised Governor Ugwuanyi for the proactive steps he had so far taken in rehabilitating some of the federal roads in the state, adding that it’s important that delays in reimbursing states are eliminated as the public hardly ever makes any distinction between federal and state roads.

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