Laleye Dipo writes on the impact of the Rural Access and Mobility Project on several communities in Niger State since the programme took off nationwide some five years ago
The Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) is a scheme being financed nationwide by the World Bank, The French Financial Development Agency and states of the Nigerian federation, with its major objective being to improve transport conditions and bring sustained access to the rural population through rehabilitating and maintaining important rural transport infrastructure in a sustainable manner in selected states of the country.
By so doing, the project will reduce rural urban migration and improve the socio-economic lives of the benefiting states.
Niger State is one of the few states in the country that has keyed into this project because of its land mass, which is about the largest in the country. Unfortunately, people in these rural communities are not properly linked to each other for the exploitation of their hidden potentials especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism and mining where the state has comparative advantage.
Apart from its key mandate, the RAMP in Niger State has been able to reduce the level of unemployment in the society and also improve the health conditions of the people.
Not less than 215 youths who were hitherto idle, have now been engaged on the maintenance of the constructed rural roads. These youths, 30 per cent of whom are women, are placed on N20,000 monthly stipend and are located in their communities from where they manage between three and four kilometers of road. This policy has also helped to increase the life span of the rural roads constructed in addition to making the youths engaged in other works like farming.
According to statistics from the RAMP office in Minna, the project has also reduced maternal mortality by about 60 per cent as a result of the people having improved access to health facilities in the intervention areas. The statistics also showed that travel cost in the intervention areas has reduced by 40 per cent, whereas travel time has also reduced by 50 per cent as a result of the project.
Commenting on the achievements in these areas, State Project Coordinator, Alhaji Hassan Etsu said : “No fewer than 728,891 people have already benefited and 215 jobs created with annual mechanised maintenance of those roads for its sustainability in line with global best practices.
“The scheme has impacted on the benefiting communities in the areas of easy access to health facilities, increased schools enrollment, reduced transport costs and improve in the living standard of the rural dwellers economically and socially.
“The huge investment on the rural roads has no doubt opened up the rural areas because the state has the largest landmass in the country and is faced with the herculean task of opening up the rural areas.”
In the implementation of its core mandate, RAMP in the state has constructed 519kilometers of roads made up of 117km in the first phase and 402km in the second phase, including the provision of 30 bridges in various locations to improve movement within and outside the rural communities especially the hard to reach areas.
Some of the rural roads constructed include Wuya suma – lemu, Mokwa – Jaagi, Kudu, sabon wuse-ijah gbagyi, sullu –tafa, , suleja-Abuchi-IzomAuna –Tungajika-shafini, wawa-malali. In the first phase, all projects were completed and handed over to the state project implementation unit. Some of the bridges constructed were maza kuka, Adogon Mallam, ibeto-gyengi, Gganran sagi, Ragadawa-baban dogo, kutriko-salawu cikan, Mukugi- Ajitupa, Eyangi- liman , Wuya- Kanti, Emi egimazi, Dabban, Sabon daga, Nakpankuchi river, Maikera- Beji labude and other bridges.
As a result of the impressive performance of the state in the first two phases of the scheme, Niger and Osun states have been allowed to migrate to Phase 111 of the scheme which will cover agricultural projects, as well as construction of markets and storage facilities to curb post harvest losses.
Etsu further declared that the decision by the donor agencies to allow the migration to take place was also as a result of the commitment of the state government to the payment of its counterpart funding. He said over N9.2billion was spent on the first two phases of the project adding that the state government has also released N1.6billion for the enhancement of the project, part of which will be committed to the payment of compensation to displaced people, resettlements, allowances, taxes and staff training.
Similarly, he stated that in view of the achievements recorded by RAMP in the state, Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has approved the sum of N6 billion for surface dressing of the roads already constructed by RAMP phase 1 and Phase 11.
“The approval of the governor is out of the RAMP mandate is aimed at adding value to the work already done by RAMP in the intervention areas in the state with the view to upgrading the roads fore more sustainability,” the project coordinator added.
Under this initiative, Etsu said 230 kilometers of roads already constructed will be surface dressed to ensure durability of the projects and to in the long run, address infrastructural deficit on trunks B and C roads in the state, especially now that these category of roads need serious intervention from the federal government.
While lauding the project, community leaders have asked for more of such roads to be made motorable to provide better life for the people.