John shiklam writes that despite the billions of Naira spent on the construction and rehabilitation of roads in Kaduna State, the demand for more roads has not abated
Although billions of naira is being spent on the rehabilitation and construction of roads across Kaduna State by Governor Patrick Yakowa, the demand for motorable roads by various communities in state is on the increase.
Since Yakowa took the mantle of leadership about two years ago, one of the priorities of his administration is the provision of good, motorable roads that will open up communities as well as enhance easy transportation within the ever growing city of Kaduna and boost economic and commercial activities.
So far, the state government has committed a total of about N40 billion on the rehabilitation and the construction of roads and bridges across the states.
Most of the road projects are located in the Central Senatorial Zone of Kaduna Metropolis.
The decision of the governor to give priority to roads, according to the state commissioner for works, Alhaji Suleiman Yahaya Richifa, is because of the economic importance of good road network in the economic activities of any society.
Besides, Richifa revealed that the demands of most communities in the state have centred on the quest for road construction.
He said further that during the first phase of the roads contracts, the government embarked on the construction of 684 kilometre lengths of roads. Of these, 22 kilometres of the roads were within the urban areas, gulping N15 billion while in the rural communities a total of 464 Kilometre of feeder roads and 144 river crossings were constructed at the cost of about N8 billion
The commissioner noted that one of the road projects that attracted the attention of the governor was the deplorable and inaccessible Kofar Gayan – Jos road which serves as a bye pass connecting Zaria City from the Kofar Gayan end where the Hajia Gambo General Hospital and some institutions of learning are located, pointing out that the rehabilitation of this road will also link a good number of farming villages around Zaria as well as opened up the villages in the area and boost their socio economic activities.
The construction of the 4th Bridge and its Road Approaches (10km) from the NNPC junction to Gobarau Road, Ungwan Rimi is one of the major road projects embarked upon by the state government.
Residents of Kaduna metropolis, especially those in the Southern part of the city have applauded the construction of this road, as it will greatly reduced their ordeal occasion by heavy traffic congestion along the River Kaduna bridge which connects the southern part of the city with the northern part of the city where most offices and businesses are located.
Because of the traffic congestion, commuters spend hours instead of just 10 or 15 minutes to get to the city centre. The project consists of the bridge which was constructed at the cost of N1.6 billion while the road Approaches cost N4.4 billion, all totalling N6 billion.
So far this project is almost completed as commuters have started plying it. The benefit of this project is beyond relief for residents of the metropolis; it is also opening up the entire area.
According to Richifa, “road is a catalyst for residential and industrial development. I will like you to know that His Excellency is opposed to excision of land, that’s why for him, this project is beyond decongesting traffic, it is also about opening up Kaduna.”
The commissioner said further that in addition to the 20 ongoing road projects which has gulped over N16 billion, there are 36 rural roads and 144 River crossings that were being executed under a special programme called KADRAM.
Just recently the state government awarded another set of road 31 contracts spread across the state at a total cost of N28.6 billion.
“His Excellency in his wisdom and desire to transform the transport sector in Kaduna state, decided to construct and rehabilitate additional 31 roads in the state” the works commissioner stated.
Since the announcement of the award of these contracts which were signed at a colourful ceremony at the offices of the ministry of works in Kaduna, there had been wide spread applause in some areas just as some people are calling for attention to the roads in the areas.
At the signing of the new contracts, the commissioner who charged the contractors to ensure that they use the advance payment to commence work and warned them to stick to the terms and date for the completion of the contracts, assuring that government will not delay in the payment of contractors to execute the projects.
He stressed that gone were the days when contractors will collect money to execute contracts and will not do the work or do substandard work, declaring that the people of Kaduna state will not tolerate substandard work.
“We will revoke any contract that is not properly done and penalise the contractors. The expectation of the people as it concerns the construction of roads is high.
“We will closely monitor the contractors to see whether the contracts are properly executed. You must know that your name is at stake if you don’t do a good job. So I urge you all to execute quality work that will stand the test of time and speak well of you” Richifa said.
Besides awarding contarcts, the state government has also taken steps at ensuring road maintenance and rehabilitation by purchasing multi-million equipments for the Kaduna State Public Works Agency (KAPWA), an agency which is charged with the responsibility of constructing and maintenance of roads.
The equipment which the commissioner said were purchased at the cost of N186 million include a Bulldozer, Grader, Excavator, Vibratory Roller, Pay Loader Water Tanker and Low Loader.
They were recently commission by governor Yakowa raising the hopes of residents whose roads are in a terrible condition for a possible rehabilitation.
Speaking during the commissioning of the equipment by Yakowa, the works commissioner noted that a lot of road projects have been awarded and without KAPWA, it would be impossible to keep them in good condition.
He said “With this equipment we hope that roads within the metropolis would be rehabilitated. Your Excellency, we have seen your commitment to ensure good road network in the state by purchasing these equipments as you promised”.
However the governor, in a remark during the ceremony urged the agency to use them to improve the condition of roads within the city.
He maintained that unless rail transport is revived by the federal government, there will be heavy pressure on the roads being the only means of transport.
“Because the rail system has collapsed, the roads have become a major means of transporting people and goods.
“A lot of roads in Kaduna metropolis need serious attention. I will request the commissioner of works to give me a catalogue and work plans of the roads in the city for work to commence.
“N143 million would be made available for road maintenance, beautification of Round About and electrification of street lights. With these equipments, I expect a solid work from KAPWA. My administration places a lot of priority on road infrastructure.
“The demand for roads is so high that every part of the state is making a demand to the extent that even if we spend the whole of our budget on road construction, we may not be able to meet these demands,” the governor said.
But various communities in the state, especially within the metropolis have continued to call the attention of the state government to the deplorable condition of roads in the areas.
Worst affected are roads within the Southern part of Kaduna metropolis as well as some suburbs in the northern part of the city which has long been neglected.
Indeed the one of the major challenges of residents in the Christian dominated part of the city is the near absence of good access roads. Most residents in the area go through a lot of hardship as a result of bad roads during the raining season.
For instance, in settlements like Sabon Tasha, Ungwan Romi, Television, Narayi and Gonin Gora, the bad state of roads in the these areas have continue to make residents wonder whether the government has forgotten that they exist..
In Tsaunin Kura GRA, Sabon Tasha area of the metropolis, the lack of a single access road connecting the emerging community has been of great concern to residents of the area.
Ironically, quiet a number of top serving government functionaries, including some of Yakowa’s aides as well as former council chairmen and retired top civil servants are residing in this area.
Some areas in the Northern part of the city are also going through the same difficulties as a result of lack of good access roads.
Every morning, the Phone-in programme popularly known as “Oga Driver” being aired on the state owned radio is inundated with complaints of bad roads by residents.
Many communities have are alleging that the government has not deem it fit to address the near absence of motorable access roads in their areas.
But with the purchase of equipments for KAPWA, there seem to be a glimmer of home that some of the problems would be tackled, but the question is how soon. Some of the roads only need to be graded with proper construction of drainages. That is what KAPWA should be doing.
Investigations also show that the local governments in the state, especially Kaduna North, Kaduna South and Chikun local governments which are within the city centre have not been contributing their quota in terms of construction of culverts, drainages and maintenance of roads within their localities.
Unfortunately, instead of putting pressure on the local governments to repair the roads, the residents, probably out of ignorance, have always been looking up to the state government and pointing accusing fingers on it for failing to do what ought to be done by local government authorities.
A top politician who pleaded anonymity however blamed some of the communities for folding their arms and waiting for government to do everything for them instead on embarking on community self help efforts.
“It beats my imagination that people will just fold their arms and wait for government to come and do things that ordinarily could be done through communal efforts.
“There are some areas that you find wealthy people living in there, but they find it difficult to mobilise people to repair the roads in their area. They are waiting for government.
“What is the essence of your wealth if you cannot impact on the community you live in and one of the ways you can impact on your community is by using your resources to make little repairs on the road in your area, you can even provide a borehole to the community for their water need.
“Community leaders should be in the forefront to organise their people to repair their roads through self help effort. Government can come in when it is too big for the community to handle.
“In Tsauni Kura GRA, a lot of people are building houses there, some of them are even government officials, but there is no single good road in that area. During the rains many cars got stuck there. Those living there were not driving their cars, because there was no road, yet many influential and some rich people have erected mansions there. They have not found it necessary to ensure one good access road in the area
In fact, I don’t think that even if the government is to spend the whole of its budget on roads alone, it will not be enough to meet the road demand of every community in Kaduna state, so people should learnt to initiate self help efforts at repairing their roads”, he said.