By Laleye Dipo
The Rural Access and Mobility Programme, RAMP, has constructed over 600 kilometers of rural roads and 30 River Crossings in the 25 local government areas of Niger state .
The State Coordinator of the Programme Etsu Hassan Baba who made this known in Minna while exchanging views with newsmen on Wednesday said the roads had linked about 420 communities and provided direct and indirect jobs to more than 600 people .
Baba said to make the roads last the test of time and serve the people better, the state government is carrying out the surface dressing of 240 kilometers of the roads a project that will cost the government N6 billion.
Of the 240 kilometers, he explained that 65% had been completed while work had reached appreciable progress on the remaining 35%.
Apart from this the State Coordinator said the programme had recruited another 600 people who were ” given monthly stipends of N20,000 each” to maintain the roads and desilt the culverts so that they don’t fall into misuse.
“We have improved transportation in the rural areas, the construction of these roads has also led to increase in enrolment of pupils in schools,” he said, adding that cases of death during child birth or sudden illness have tremendously decreased because people can now easily access health care facilities as a result of the good conditions of the roads.
He however said the Programme could not continue with construction of road from Pandogari to Basa as a result of insecurity but said the project designed for the area has been diverted to a safer part of the same community.
The programme, Baba said, had overcome the security challenges by engaging top security experts to advice it adding that ” we now have full compliments of fully armed policemen, soldiers and other security operatives to protect our staff on the field.”
Baba said the programme had also decided to include issue of Security as “a cost in the next phase of our assignment”.
The State Coordinator disclosed that because the state RAMP performed “creditably” it had been given the go ahead to move to the next phase of the programme which is the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project, RAAMP, under which transportation marketing of agricultural produce will be given attention.
“We will construct markets in Kontagora, Bida, New-Bussa, Suleja and Kuta towns for the sale and even export of agricultural projects peculiar to these communities,” Baba said.
“We were given a target to construct 370 kilometers of rural roads and 15 river crossings, we surpassed the target so we have been given the nod to go into the next phase of the project,” the Coordinator said.
Baba commended the Niger state government for it’s commitment to the programme saying ” No government in the history of this state has shown to rural development like the present administration”.
RAMP is a World Bank, French Development Agency and Niger state Government funded project which started in 2013, with $60m package as loans which the participating states are to repay over 30 years.
Other states in the programme are Osun, Adamawa, Enugu and Imo.