John Shiklam writes on the agony of motorists along the Manchok-Jos Road, connecting Kaduna and Plateau States which was constructed just four years ago
Like many federal roads across the federation, the 40km Manchok-Vom Road, connecting Manchok community in Kaduna State and Ganawuri, Vom and Jos in Plateau State is a nightmare.
Interestingly at the inauguration of the road four years ago, the former Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, had claimed that the quality of road was of standard that “can be compared with anyone in the world.”
It was inaugurated by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. The road which is a major one connecting Kaduna and Plateau States is at the verge of total collapse, causing untold hardship to commuters traveling to Jos and Kaduna as well as communities in the area engaged in commercial activities.
From Manchok in Kaduna State to Vom in Plateau State, the road is dotted with dangerous potholes that have caused many avoidable accidents that resulted in the loss of innocent lives.
The worst part of the road is in Danton Village in Ganawuri community, Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State, about 31 kilometres to Jos.
This particular portion of the road, about 100 metres, has become very dreadful, impassable and requires urgent attention from the authorities. Since it was constructed, it has been serving as the shortest route from Kaduna to Jos. Other routes are the Kaduna – Saminaka -Jos routes and Kaduna -Kagoro – Gidan Waya- Jos routes which are also in bad condition and a journey from the two state capitals lasts for over four hours as against the two and a half hours on the Kaduna – Manchok-Jos route.
Signs that the road would not last long started showing about two years after its inauguration in 2013 as the 7.3 metres-wide asphalt concrete started peeled off , giving way to unimaginable clay mud that no longer make it motorable.
Several vehicles, especially trucks get stuck for several days before they are eventually pulled out.
Smaller vehicles had no choice than to opt for the diversions (alternative routes), constructed by youths within Danton Village and neighbouring communities.
Although the diversions also posed serious danger as vehicles frequently get stuck, motorists and their passengers have no choice than to take risk.
Those who don’t want to waste man hours on the bad road turn back to follow through Kagoro – Gidan Waya to Jos, a journey lasting for about four hours instead of two and half hours on the Manchok – Vom Road.
The situation has created an opportunity for the youths to make brisk business from motorists who ply the alternative routes they constructed.
They blocked the two diversions which are also almost as precarious as the impassible portion of the main road.
Many vehicles often get stuck there too and the driver had to pay more money for the boys to push it out. Before the boys opened the road for motorists to passed, a token of between N200 and above must be paid.
The amount of money you drop determines whether the boys will guide you as you plunge your car into the mud and over a locally constructed bridge.
If you drop much money they will enter the mud and guide you through and in the event that you get stuck, they rally round and push your car out of the mud.
Many of the youths in the area seemed to have abandoned other things for this “emergency road construction” as they hang around the roadside with their shovels, hoes and other implements which they used from time to time to make the diversions “motorable”.
When the road was in a good condition, it takes just about 45 minutes from Manchok to Vom, but with its terrible condition, it takes about two hours.
Motorists who spoke to THISDAY in an interview accused the federal government for not doing much to tackle the bad state of roads across the country.
Badung Pam, one of the commercial drivers who regularly ply the road from Jos to Kaduna, said the road was poorly constructed.
Although he said heavy trucks that ply the road also contributed to the dilapidation, he stressed that if the road was properly done, it wouldn’t have not been as bad as it is today.
“This road is just about four years and it is already condemned, the contractor did a very bad job. The present government should investigate the contract. This may be as a result of corruption,” he said.
Another commercial driver who didn’t want his name in print, accused the federal government for showing no interest in road maintenance, stressing that such attitude was responsible for the bad roads across the country.
“If there is maintenance culture, the moment this road begins to show signs of weakness, they should have taken action.
“Look at the road, even the big cars that the “big men” drive cannot pass here, but nobody cares. Nobody is telling the government about this road. They must pay urgent attention to the dilapidation on this road.
“How much will it take to repair this particular spot. All that is needed is a grader to remove the mud and fill the place with gravels, stones and sand and the problem is solved. The attitude of government concerning our roads is rather very unfortunate,” he said.
The road project was awarded to P. W Nigeria Ltd. on November 15, 1999 by the Obasanjo administration with May 15, 2001 as completion deadline. However, because of the difficult terrain on the hilly Plateau, the project could not be completed as scheduled. It was completed in 2012 and inaugurated in 2013 by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The then Minister of Works, Onolememen, who performed the inauguration ceremony in May 2013, had expressed delight over the “quality” of the project which he said was of “world standard.”
“This is a first-class road, and it is a road that can be compared with anyone in the world. In fact, this road has been well constructed and we are happy that the project, which was taken over by the Federal Ministry of Works sometime last year (2012), has finally been delivered,” Onolememen was quoted to have said during the inauguration of the road.
The worse portion of the road is in Plateau State, meaning that the Plateau State Government should collaborate with the federal government to urgently address the problem and save motorists from the agony and trauma they experience on the road on a daily basis.
It is very unfortunate that a road that was touted to be of world standard upon its completion has become in shambles in just four years.
The existence of the road has gone a long way in boosting economic and commercial activities between communities in the two states.
As a temporary measure, the Plateau State Government should intervene by finding a temporary solution to ameliorate the hardship being faced by commuters since the worst spot falls within its territory.
This should not be difficult for any responsive and responsible government to do for the citizens.