Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The road linking Nigeria to Central Africa, and by extension, the North Africa from the North-eastern region, the Maiduguri-Mafa-Dikwa-Gamboru/Ngala road, was yesterday reopened by the Nigerian Army.
The road, a total of 138 kilometres, is not only strategic but of economic importance to the nation. It was closed three years ago by the military at the peak of the Boko Haram crisis.
The reopening of the road which closure had almost crippled the commercial prowess of Borno State by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, in conjunction with Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, was part of activities marking the 2016 Army Day celebration in Borno State.
In his remarks, Buratai expressed his pleasure in witnessing the formal reopening of the road, adding that the road remains the life wire of Borno State and by extension, the country.
“The Maiduguri-Gamboru Ngala road is one of the strategic road operationally and that is the reason I ensured that it is recovered from the terrorists bearing in mind its economic importance to the state.
“It is time to keep the road busy so that economic activities on it will commence and I charge the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) to ensure that the road is always open to motorists and transporters and avoid breach of security,” Buratai said.
On the allegations of money for escort on other reopened roads, Buratai warned that anybody caught, be it soldier or civilian would be dealt with.
Shettima, on his part, noted how the activities of Boko Haram insurgents almost consume the state before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and that the subsequent taking over of the army by Buratai saved the situation.
“We eternally remain indebted to the Nigerian Army for all the sacrifices made for the survival of North-east. With the reopening of this road, the economic revival of the state and the region is certain,” Shettima said.
The Chairman, National Union Of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Borno State chapter, represented by the Secretary of the union, Alhaji Ahmadu Musa, said in appreciation of the reopening of the road, the union had decided to commit 200 out the 400 sharon vehicles donated to them by Shettima after the destruction of their buses by the terrorists to the reopened roads.
He also announced that the union in an effort to ameliorate the plight of their passengers due to economic hardship, has reduced the transport fare from N10,000 to be N2,000 henceforth.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army concluded its 2016 army day celebration with the serving of lunch to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Dikwa as well as offering free medical services to them.