Bad roads: No reprieve in sight
Continued from last week
Commuters Groan On Benin-Auchi, Ibillo – Okene – Lokoja Highways
Travelling from Benin City, the Edo State capital to Abuja, through Ekpoma, Okpella, through Okene has become a misadventure that many regret venturing into in the last few years.
Over 80 per cent of the road has become impassable for vehicles, with worst hit being the Ekpoma axis, which has cut Benin City, (which is in Edo South Senatorial District) from Edo North Senatorial District. This is the single longest stretch of a federal road in the state.
The others are the Benin – Ore – Ofosu and the Ibillo – Ondo – Lagos Road, and Ibillo – Okene – Lokoja Road.
Also begging for serious attention is the Ibillo axis of the federal road, in Akoko-Edo Local Council, which share boundaries with Ondo and Kogi states.
Commuters going to Abuja from Lagos pass through this route and vice versa, but the part of the road from Isua Akoko to Ikiran-Ile to Ibillo, is fast dilapidating, while between Ibillo and Lampese that links travellers to Okene, in Kogi State is completely cut off.
The journey from Isua, in Ondo State, to Okene in Kogi State, driving through Ibillo that should take less than one hour, now takes three hours, and commuters would have to first travel to Igarra, Headquarters of the local council (a location that is entirely off the route) to connect several villages to Ososo, then Makeke, to avoid the completely cut off section between Ibillo and Lampese.
The most unfortunate part of the development is that roads in these communities are now fast dilapidating due to the high volume of traffic plying them.
“There are two very bad spots in between Ibillo and Lampese and Ekor Ibillo axis on your way to Lagos, through Ikiran Oke and Isua axis near Ondo State. So, motorists now circumnavigate to Igarra via Enwan, Ojah, Makeke Ekpedo to Lampese before criss-crossing to Abuja again. The roads in that axis are not Trunk A roads, so they are fast dilapidating because of these heavy vehicular movement,” observed a community leader and road user from the area, Prince Ismaila Adjoto.
Adjoto continued: “This is the unfortunate situation that we have found ourselves, that is, where crossing from Ibillo to Lampese is like the camel going through the eye of a needle.”
He said the situation has adversely affected the economic life of the neighbouring areas saying, “What is being lost is unquantifiable in monetary terms. For instance, the Ibillo Market, which is a national market is lost. The market is a mini Nigeria market and it is losing its traffic as the bad road; and that is having economic effects on it because many people converge in that market every five days. If people cannot travel from the north and from Lagos to come and buy farm products, you know what that means to the Council and the people in terms of revenue.”
The situation is not different in the Benin-Auchi-Okenne road as commuters travelling from Benin City to Edo North either pass through Agbor Road in Delta State to connect parts of Edo Central, or through Ifon in Ondo State to connect Uzebba.
Few years ago, a businessman and philanthropist, Bishop Matthew Okpebholo had singly rehabilitated part of the road in Benin City, Iruekpen, Ekpoma and others, but the present state of the road calls for total reconstruction.
A commuter, John Ehis, said he spent almost 12 hours on his journey from Abuja to Benin City recently. “We left Abuja before 7am and by 9am we were in Lokoja, but after Lokoja, I didn’t get to Benin City until 6 pm, it was horrible.”
But few days ago, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, inspected failed portions of the Benin- Ehor -Ekpoma- Auchi Expressway.
Ilorin/Omuaran /Otun Ekiti Causing Drivers Heartache
One out of the three Federal Government roads that link Kwara State to neighbouring states is presently in a deplorable condition.
Kwara is bounded in the North by Niger State, in the West by Oyo State, and in the East by Ekiti State. But while the state has dual carriageways linking it with Ogbomoso, Oyo State, and Mokwa in Niger State, the Ilorin/Omuaran /Otun Ekiti State is presently an almost impassable route to motorists. A section of the road, which links the state with Egbe in Kogi State is rated as one of the worst roads in the country, as it is riddled with pot holes and gorges.
According to the Chairman of Kwara State Chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Issa Ore, the journey from Ilorin to Omuaran, which is about 78 kilometres now takes between two to two and a half hours to complete.
Ore also disclosed that because of the excruciating nature of the trip to Egbe, through Omuaran, his members plying the route now prefer to take a longer route.
“Even though it is a longer route, my members now go through Ekiti State to link Kogi State. This is because each time we pass through Omuaran, we spend a lot of money to put our vehicles back in order.”
He therefore appealed to the Federal Government to capture the roads for prompt repairs in the year 2018 budget, in order to alleviate the sufferings of drivers plying the routes and the commuting public.
Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Dr. Muideen Akorede, said the current administration has spent billions of naira to fix federal roads in order to make them passable, “without any refund from the Federal Government, despite repeated appeals by the state government.”
Akorede explained that the Ilorin/Kiama/Baruten Road, linking the North East part of the state with the southern part of neighbouring Benin Republic, would have become “the worst death trap in the country” but for the intervention of the state government.
Criminals Taking Advantage Of Poor State Of Federal Roads In Ondo
The deplorable state of federal roads in Ondo State has, in recent times, facilitated multiple deaths through recurring accidents, unending traffic jams, armed robbery attacks, even as kidnappers now see the routes as fertile grounds to perpetrate their heinous crimes, unabated.
For sometime now, more than 100 people have been robbed, abducted, maimed or killed by men of the underworld, who mount their operations along impaired spots and bad stretches of Owo/Ikare and other major roads in Akoko axis linking Kogi State.
Major Federal roads like Ore/Okitipupa and Ore/Ijebu-Ode in the South Senatorial District; the Akure/Ondo/Ore, Akure/Ikere and Akure/Ilesa roads in the Central Senatorial District, and the Akure/Owo, Owo/Ikare, Owo/Ikare/Oke-Agbe roads, Ikare/Ugbe/Epinmi/Isua roads and Ikare/Erusu/Ikaram/Akunnu roads in the North District are all in terrible conditions.
Commuters from the northern part of the country, who are headed to Lagos and other South West states suffer immensely on bad spots at Isua, Headquarters of Akoko South East, and the boundary with Ibillo, in Edo State.
According to a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), Sylvester Adeleye, “We have been living with this menace of poor roads for a very long time. Sadly, what is even more worrisome now is not the very poor state of the roads, but the fact that kidnappers now feast on travellers on some of these routes, which have become flourishing kidnappers’ den.”
For retired Commissioner for Police, Samuel Adetuyi, “the only route linking the North through the Central Senatorial District to the South Senatorial District is too narrow and dangerous. Most of these roads have been like that since they were constructed in the 1970s.”
He continued, “The Akure/Ore Road has been a single carriageway for more than 40 years. The government must ensure that many of the roads in the state are dualised in order to ease traffic flow, and ameliorate the burden on road users because the multiplying effects are gargantuan.”
A commercial driver, who plies Ikare/Owo Road, Jamiu Alowonle, said, “There are times we leave the broken down highways and get into nearby bushes and even abandoned roads. Driving in these conditions have negative effects on our vehicles. With the high cost of maintenance and of spare parts, we cannot afford not to increase our charges.
A major petroleum dealer in the state, Erelu Modupe Martins, lamented the condition of federal roads saying, “these roads have been plagued by a number of problems with the major ones having faulty designs and inadequate drainage system. Our poor maintenance culture is not helping matters either.”
While calling for the development of a robust transport roadmap, she said the roadmap must be one that is complete with plans to expand our road network, maintain it appropriately, as well as relieve the pressure on our roads, by significantly developing and upgrading other aspects of transportation.
“Okene/Akoko road is now a no-go area while transporters pass through bushes before getting to their destinations. Ore/Ijebu-Ode road is also another death trap; President Buhari should release fund to urgently fix these roads most especially as we move closer to the yuletide season,” she said.
Meanwhile, the state government has been clamouring for a refund of N11b it used to rehabilitate, maintain and reconstruct some Federal roads within the state, such as the Akure/Ondo, Akure/Ado Ekiti, Owo/Ikare roads, and some road dualisation projects in Owo, Ondo and Igbokoda. And Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, it was gathered, allegedly said that his administration would not renovate any federal government road until the outstanding amount is settled.
But Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, while on a courtesy visit to Akeredolu, promised that the Federal Government is working towards refunding the said amount.
Zaria Road In Dire Need Of Attention
Zaria Road is a major expressway that links Kano to Zaria in Kaduna State. But on this very busy and important road, locations like Kofa, Dakatsalle, Kwanar Dangora, Tashar Fulani and Chiromawa, are in very bad shape, and have caused many accidents, which lives have been claimed in the process.
These areas are so bad that a trip, which ought to last for just 30 minutes, would take over two hours.
Musa Abdulqadir, a resident of Kofa, who said about four to five accidents are recorded daily on the bad spot, added, “We have reported the matter to authorities concerned, but all to no avail.
“The way things are going, it is as if we don’t have a government in place. When rehabilitation work was carried out on the Abuja – Kaduna Road, during the resurfacing of the runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, we thought the work would be stretched to Kano. Unfortunately, that did not happen.”
Abdulqadir, is of the view that the sorry state of the road, was far from being a fair reflection of the two million votes that residents of the state gave to President Muhammadu Buhari, during the 2015 presidential election.
However, the Federal Government has commenced the rehabilitation of the Kano-Gwarzo-Dayi Road, which links Kano to Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states,
A source close to FERMA revealed that, in November 2016 the agency awarded the contract worth over N184 million for the rehabilitation of the road.
A cross section of motorists, who spoke to The Guardian on the rehabilitation work, commended the Federal Government for awarding the contract, saying, “Besides the economic importance of the road, it links Kano State with Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, and even the neighbouring Niger Republic.”
Kano-Gwarzo-Dayi Road that was constructed during the administration of the former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, had never witnessed any major repairs before now.
FERMA Trying Its Best Within Available Resources
As Nigerians are enduring pains daily on account of pothole and crater-infested roads they ply daily, but data obtained from FERMA, shows that a groundswell of roads and bridges across the country were captured for major repair works, construction or reconstruction in the 2017 budget.
For instance, in the 2017 budget, the sum of N10b is budgeted for the rehabilitation/reconstruction and expansion of Lagos-Sagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway, sections I & II in Lagos and Oyo states; N13.19b dualisation of Kano-Maiduguri Road, Sections I-V; N10.63b rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway, Sections I-IV, and N7b for the construction of second Niger Bridge, including access roads phases 2A & 2B.
In addition to this, N6.55b is also earmarked for the dualisation of East-West Road (Sections 1 to 5 covering Warri-Kiama-Ahoada-Port Harcourt-Eket- Oron-Calabar), and another N3 billion counterpart fund contribution for the road.
Also, N7.12b is earmarked for the dualisation of Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja Road; N9.25b for the dualisation of Obajana Junction to Benin Road Phase 2 Sections I-IV; N7.5 billion for rehabilitation of Onitsha-Enugu dual carriageway; N7b for the construction of Bodo-Bonny Road, with a bridge across Opobo Channel; N3.3b for the rehabilitation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani Road; and N3.5 billion for the dualisation of Odukpani-Itu-(Spur Ididep- Itam) – Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway Lot 1: Odukpani-Itu bridgehead.
Projects appropriated for in the North include the dualisation of Kano-Katsina Road Phase 1 at the cost of N1.5b; N2.24b for the dualisation of Suleja-Minna Road, Sections I & II; N2.3b for Gombe-Numan-Yola Phase II (Gombe – Kaltungo); and N2.7b for the construction of Kano Western Bypass Road.
Apart from capturing these projects in the 2017 appropriation, the Federal Government recently released proceeds of the N100b Sukuk bond for 25 key economic road projects across the six geo-political zones.
The Federal Government issued the debut Sovereign Sukuk of N100b in September 2017, few months after the Appropriation Act was signed into law.
Of the N100b, FERMA is allocated N40b of which N25b is for capital projects. So far, only and of which, so far about N800 million has been released to it.
FERMA’s Head of Communication and Public Relation, Mrs. Maryam Sanusi, who confirmed these, explained that although the allocation was not sufficient given the enormous work the agency does, it is still intervening on all stretches of federal roads as much as funding permits.
She said: “Our 2016 contracts are still ongoing. Our direct labour works are still being carried out, and are all on federal roads.”
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