Road users wallows in pains,economy activites hampered,security challenges on the increase because of the bad nature of the road and authority concern appears to be mute
By Tom Garba, Yola
The Federal road from Gombe to Yola is a maximum journey of 245 kilometers and about a maximum of 3 hours to arrived the city of Yola. This road has a very high economy value considering the production of Rice, Fish,Maize, Cow meat,milk (cow) millet produce in commercial quantities. But the deplorable nature of the road has hamper the economy activities to thrives in recent times,bearing in mind that the road is a nucleus which is linking Taraba state in the North East and parts of Yobe and Southern Borno and Northern parts of Adamawa Neighboring with the country of Cameroon.
The road has over three decades execrable with deadly portholes from Gombe to Yola ,which to many is a Golgotha journey to hell before one reaches his or her intended destination. Before 1999 from Gombe to Yola, Adamawa state, according to road users narration, Alhaji Adamu Aliyu,a merchants of hides and skin in the early 80s and late 90s said was a journey between death and life. He revealed that aside the high possibilities of accident occurrences,another high rates deadly encounter on daily basis is the serious arm rubbery activities that one must experience. He revealed that for any user of the road is conscious and subconscious aware there was a tradition and custom of holding money of about five to seven gates of armed men ,especially in the axis of Cham hills,Lafiyan Lamurde and after Demsa before reaching to Yola. According to him this menace thrived because the road is totally some major portions of it are not motorable.
Adamu attributed the peril experience when applying the bad road is as a result of uncared attitudes of the Government whose primary duties is protect life and properties, create social infrastructure for economy boom in the country.
The road has suffers neglect for many decades,but when Democracy was returned in 1999, President Olusegun Aremu Mathew Obasanjo has constantly featured the 240 kilometers road from Gombe to Yola into budgets because of its aged long delipidated and unmotorable state.
Official Statistics by Federal road safety commission (FRSC),Vehicles inspections officers (VIO) has shown that the road from 1999 to date has claimed lives of thousands of people and commuters using the delipidated state of the Federal road.
In September 2005,The Federal Road Safety Commission, (FRSC) Adamawa sector command, has appealed to the Federal Government to effect repairs of the Bam-Bam to Lamurde axis of the Gombe-Numan – Yola road which has become deplorable, leading to many fatal accidents,
The annoying aspect or a rather question of thought without answer is the laggard ongoing work in the Numan/Lamurde taking you to Gombe since 2016,the heart breaking area is the domain of Savannah sugar company, ( Dangwate Sugar company). The less attention by officials and those in the place of authority to complete the Yola parts of the road is becoming a call for concern.
The Lamurde LGA is the base of Dangote group of company that is mostly referred to as Dangote Sugar in Southern Senatorial Zone of Adamawa state. This is where the road is worst and badly damaged,inflicting untold hardship, fears and grounded the economy potentials of the areas. The much activities of heavy duty vehicles of Dangote company according to one Japheth Josh who share his thoughts in the bad nature of the road has contributed immensely to the present level of the road.
The about 50 kilometers road from Cham,the boundary area between Gombe state and Numan,Adamawa state could best be described like the biblical historic story of the Golgotha road that leads to crucifixion area of dead. It’s still fresh in the minds of people in the entire North east the gruesome effects of Boko Haram in Adamawa state, of recent, another insecurity challenge of Herders and Fulani crisis has dominated the areas of Numan,Lamurde,Guyuk,Mayobelwa and Demsa which generally refer to as the Numan federation. In 2016,2017 and 2018 those areas along the Yola-Gombe,particular the Ngwalang Lamurde road that leads one to Gombe was under serious attacks by the suspected Fulanis herdsmen. This is probably so because of the agrarian nature of the areas,that has hectares vast of lands as green areas and most of the communities are borders along the coastal of the Benue river as Fisher men.
The Chief of Bachama Kingdom whose territory is having the major deplorable bad road,Homun Honest Irmiya Steven said since the award of the contract for the past three years and half the trench linking Cham connecting the boundary between Adamawa and Gombe States is what have being straggler to be completed. The first Class Chief in his view said the contractors handling the job “are not being funded.”
Irmiya also lamented the poor handling of the ongoing work on the road leading travelers from Numan to Jalingo. He said the contractors handling that other road are not capability and competent, considering the slow space of the job, the equipments, materials and even the workers on site.
A according to a Local,Mr Gabriel Pwasato whose farm is directly opposite the Dangote sugar company that span through many kilometres said that the deplorable nature of the road has increased the high perpetuation of arm rubbery and kidnapping in recent times. Gabriel revealed that some weeks ago banditry activities were rampant, and the men of the under world were haven their field day operating both nights and days. He said the road present condition has turn Numan federation into a whole lot of security issues,begging on the government to come to their succour in a sooner time.
Tgnews on this special report observed the level of the road expiration because of over use. On 1st September, 2019 a bridge linking Adamawa and Gombe states where road users are able to connect Bauchi, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna and Abuja left thousands of Passengers in Lafiyan Lamurde area of Adamawa state because it was collapsed to a still movement of travelers and committees.
Another road calling a source of concern is the Yola /Jalingo from Numan axis calamitous nature is hampering the socio economy activities of the areas. The other axis of Yola/Jalingo through Ngurore,Mayobelwa to Zinc Northern Taraba is another journey leading one to hell . This road is less than 140 kilometers to Jalingo from Yola,which is a journey of about one hour thirty minutes on a normal road,but the burdensome and boring condition of the road will make any good drivers to spent at least three hours thirty minutes before one will eventually reaches to Jalingo.
Our correspondent who toured the road from Yola through Mayo Belwa and Zinc observed a bridge in Nassarawo Jereng,connecting the boundary of zinc of Taraba few kilometers from Mayo is almost breaking up because of the over usage of the road and the deadly gully erosion chopping out the basement of the bridge. The terrifying disconnection may likely occur in a sooner possible time as the bride now provide one way approach at the extreme end of it when coming from Yola if something urgent is done.
The road in Zinc Major town,one of the biggest LGA in Taraba which produced the first civilian Governor of the state,Rev Jolly Nyame and Kyanti zinc, a first class traditional monarch are death traps characterising the major road.
An indigene of the LGA who said is from monki village,Mr Charles Kefas narrated their ordeals of how they are suffering from transporting their agricultural products to markets of Zinc,Mayobelwa and even Ngorure.
According to him Zinc LGA is the Major producer of Yam in the country, where people from South East,North West and neighboring country of Cameroon visits the market on Wednesdays to buy Yam on commercial quantities. He worried over the nonchalant attitudes of the government to fix the road that’s frustrating the economy activities of the areas to boom.
“We here don’t have any serious business we are doing than farming, here in Zinc we have the best kind of Yam that any body or company want. Before this road deteriorated to this level, eve of our Wednesday market day starts on Monday where we received merchants visitors from all places including Cameroon, lorries are trooping on countabless numbers to convey Yam to other parts of the country. But now as I’m talking to you our Yam do not have much values again, only few business men and women visit the Yam markets with little impacts of the tones of Yam we yearly produce.” He said
Kefas condemned the less concern of the government in fixing the road that use to create job opportunity for the youths of the area especially on market days.
He said many of the youths before are dealers of exporting and transporting Yam produce to several States in the country, where most of them turned millionaires and living a good life but the unfortunate and shameful nature of the roads have now turned them beggars and political thugs of politicians.
The recent of the Nukkai bridge, on Jalingo – Mutu-biu-Wukari road, cutting off the major link between the North-East, North Central and the South East Zones, has led to increase in traffic density on the Gombe-Yola road. The unprecedented increase, coupled with the poor conditions of the Bam-Bam-Lamurde axis of the Gombe-Yola road, has attracted a lot of accidents resulting in loss of lives and property.
Recall that the Gombe-Numan federal road rehabilitation project was awarded afresh by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2016.
Nearly two years into the life of the multi-billion naira contract, Nigerians plying the road are not elated about the progress of the project.
The federal government awarded the contract for the completion of the rehabilitation of the Gombe-Numan-Yola road to Triacta Nigerian Limited and Chinese Geo-engineering Company (CGC).
While Triacta Nigeria Limited undertakes the Gombe to Kaltungo portion of the road, CGC is to rebuild the road from Kaltungo to Numan.
The phase-II of the project, located in Gombe State, is to cover the road from Gombe to Kaltungo, which covers a distance of 83km. Earlier in March, motorists plying Gombe-Numan-Yola highway were assured that the ongoing construction work on the Gombe-Kaltungo axis would be completed by June.
The Project Manager of the road, Imran Khan, told the Director Federal High Way, North-East at the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Rufai Mohammed, that over 45 kilometres out of the 68 kilometres from the Gombe – Kaltungo axis of the road had been completed.
Amos James, a road site vulcanizer in a village close to Lafiyan Lamurde, informed Nigerian Tribune that about 2km portion of the excavation and grading part of the road, which passes through their village was only done early this year.
“It was early this year that they moved their equipment to where it is now, not far away from our village,” he said. “I think they stopped working due to lack of funding.
“We are looking forward to having them return immediately so that they can tar the road on time, as the rains is turning the graded road into (a) pool of mud and cause problems for travellers,” he said.
Saleh Abdullahi, a petty trader who owns a shop at Lamurde Junction,said “the only completed portion that stretched up to Yola was done during governor Nyako’s regime,fromnNuman to Yolq,all the rest i want to tell you are story-story.
Our reporter also observed the presence of road construction equipment which were parked at the spots where fresh works were being carried out. Vehicles had to dust their way through the freshly graded portion of the road which is awaiting further development along the Savannah Sugar company.
The remaining stretch of road that goes beyond Lafiyan Lamurde town and to Numan is still dotted with large potholes. Slow construction work ongoing along the Gombe-Numan road at Dangwate Sugar company is nothing than the chameleon walk on work site.
Auwal Suleiman, Triacta Nigeria Limited’s quality control manager for the Gombe-Yola project, said “the Gombe-Numan-Yola rehabilitation project was awarded since 2011 but there was no mobilization for contractors to commence (the) work, until 2016, when it was finally funded”.
He said the work commenced in earnest in June 2016; starting from the Gombe town to Kaltungo, in Gombe State.
“And we were able to cover 23km by December of 2016. After that, we received a signal from the federal ministry of works to go to the Kaltungo end of the project which happened to be the worst part of the project.
“And in 2017 we were able to cover about 18km from that axis. After tackling the worse aspect of the road, we now returned to the Gombe side of the project where we left off, to continue the work, with the intention of connecting it with the Kaltungo side.
About 30km long portion of the Gombe-Numan road completed by the contractors.
On the stage of the project’s completion, Mr Suleiman said “so far, about 65 per cent of the project has been completed.
“There are some sections of the road that are difficult, which we have not been able to cover, especially between Kumo and Billiri towns. Even vehicles are not moving on the road. They have to go down the shoulders and so on. We hope to cover the remaining 35 per cent part of the road by December.”
On the issue of funding, Mr Suleiman said the government has not been defaulting in payment.
A portion of the awarded Gombe-Numan road where work is yet to be commenced by the contractors.
“This government is really trying because they have not been defaulting in terms of payment. Each time we raise certificate for part completion, they pay promptly. That is why you see us working on the road.”
The challenge being faced by Triacta Nigeria Limited, according to Mr Suleiman, is the issue of traffic on the highway.
Gombe-Yola road is one of the busiest roads in North-east Nigeria. Contractors have to constantly pay attention and make provision for easy flow of traffic while the work is still ongoing.
This slows down the work, he said.
Another major challenge for the contractors is the rainy season, he said, which also slows down the speed of the road construction – though a common phenomenon in civil engineering.
The contractors said they have engaged over 500 unskilled labourers who are mostly from Gombe, Yola, Kaltungo and other smaller villages which the road passes through.
Most of the residents have not made any major complaints on how the construction efforts has made life difficult for them because the road is an existing one. Hence no one has asked for any kind of compensation due to encroachment.
“There is enough space to work on, so there has never been any cause to pay compensation whatsoever,” said Triacta’s quality control manager.
He added that “even if there is any private structure that is close to the highway, we see it as an encroachment and the federal government has the right of way. And that happen only when we are taking the project through the town.
Questions in the lips of many Nigerians is that the road has repeatedly featured in budgets since 2016 and it is becoming more unmotorable as the years pass by. What happens to the billions of naira earmarked all these years?
According to a record by the federal ministry of works revealed about N90 billionn was earmarked by the Federal Government for all roads construction in Adamawa excluding that of M/Belwa
An official of the federal roads in charge of Adamawa in an interview last month revealed told our reporter that lack of enough funds affecting slow construction of some federal roads in the state.