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Abandoned colonial bridge sparks outrage, protest in Kwara

The Moro bridge connecting Oko-Olowo road in Kwara State with Igbeti in Oyo State has served the communities and other travellers for decades.  The facility,…

The Moro bridge connecting Oko-Olowo road in Kwara State with Igbeti in Oyo State has served the communities and other travellers for decades. 

The facility, which had been a source of livelihood for many who used it as a means of transportation of persons, goods and farm produce, has contributed greatly to the social and economic development of the people. 

However, it has recently degenerated into a death trap following years of abandonment prompting calls on the federal government under which jurisdiction it is located, to do the needful and replace the colonial structure. 

Though the government awarded the construction of a replacement in 2018, the slow pace of the work and alleged abandonment sparked protest and lamentations last week from road unions, motorists and pedestrians alike over the negative impact it has had on their lives and businesses. 

During one of the protests, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and its counterparts in the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) called on the government to come to their aide. 

The Kwara RTEAN chairman, Alhaji Olayinka Onikijipa, pleaded with the Minister of Works and Housing, Mrs Babatunde Raji Fashola, to ensure the speedy completion of the project to alleviate the suffering of the people. 

According to him, the unions and the people of the state are very displeased with the present situation. 

“The construction work has been abandoned since 2018. This has imposed a lot of hardship on the people and especially the transporters and farmers who are in the majority here.  

“The colonial structure has almost collapsed causing unimaginable hardship to all us”, he added. 

On his part, the state chairman of the NURTW, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Ariwo-Ola, said the unions have been involved in palliatives measures to make the bridge passable. 

Ariwo-Ola, who said the bridge had claimed lives in the past, called for drastic and urgent action to forestall further casualties on the bridge by completing the new one. 

“Many lives have been lost because of the poor and worrying condition of the bridge which has now turned to a death trap,” he added 

A motorist, Abdulrauf Aloba, who spoke with North Central Trust during a visit, described the situation as appalling, adding that it has seriously affected their lives and businesses and called for urgent action. 

“Most of the palliative works on this bridge have been carried out by the road unions. But it has gotten to a stage now that it can no longer work. This is a bridge that thousands pass every day with a very strategic connection to the quest for food security in the country. Sometimes, one wonders how our leaders think. 

Also, a trader, Hajia Bilkis Sidiq, while, recognizing the impact of the bridge on businesses, called on the government to expedite action on the project. 

“We pay revenue to access this bridge yet the government has abandoned us. This suffering is too much. Many of us have lost loved ones who have fallen through the bridge because of its decrepit state.  

“We are earnestly begging the government to consider our plight. We didn’t vote for them to be taken through such hardship”, she said.  

At the time of a visit by our reporter, some workers were seen off-loading cement at the site of the new bridge. 

One of them who agreed to speak unofficially said the issue of funding initially delayed the project. 

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