Apart from Wudil to Gaya, which was under construction, the Auno, Mainok Jakana and Maiduguri segment of the Kano-Maiduguri expressway was apparently portioned out and abandoned. The dusty and potholed stretch, which is rather unmanageable, gives a tough time to drivers especially truckers who are forced to move at a snail’s pace.
Kanem Trust reports that the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Development had in September this year pledged to complete the abandoned segment of the road, yet only select areas were filled with sharp sand.
Thousands of travellers were said to have been exited beyond measure when the government resolved to dualise the over 500 kilometers highway, some years ago, but the pathetic state of the road between Auno, Mainok, Jakana and Maiduguri had dashed their hopes.
A driver, Mallam Yusuf said the volume of vehicles on the road was mostly high everyday but the poor quality of the ‘last segment of about 50 kilometres’ to Maiduguri continues to damage vehicles and cause accidents especially during the rainy season.
He said, “The potholed and dusty areas of the road makes life miserable for travellers because of the bouncy ride and dust. Also, vehicles do not drive smoothly and develop serious mechanical problems as a result; shocks and tyres do not last for the reason that they constantly hit deep holes.”
According to Yusuf, who said he had persistently driven commercial vehicles along the road for 17 years; miscreants including Boko Haram insurgents took advantage of the bad road section and carry out ‘deadly’ attacks.
He said, “Some troops have been stationed at different sections of the road while others moved from one sector to the other to keep vigil, yet, these boys (insurgents) come out from their hideout in the bush whenever the patrols are not in sight and attack vehicles on the bad portions of the road. They burnt two trucks last month after Jakana on the way to Maiduguri.
“A commercial bus was seized and both the driver, Nuhu and the passengers were abducted two weeks ago; none of the abductees was seen. This explains why I do not ply the road after 4pm; rather, I prefer to spend the night in Damaturu and continue the journey in the morning.”
Narrating yet another experience at the same area three years ago, he said, the attackers hung around scenes of attack for a while before they eventually struck.
“I said this because almost a year ago, I met some youths selling watermelon at an unusual site along the road near Jakana and I slowed down whispered to a passerby to leave the strange place. Few minutes after my departure, news came to me in Maiduguri that people were shot dead in the area,” he said.
Another driver, Kabir Jos too, was attacked in the area by the suspected insurgents who carted away his money after failing to persuade him to join them.
He said, “On my way to Maiduguri from Kano, I stopped near Potiskum and picked up four passengers who were all males, at noontime and later at Damagun to collect a parcel containing N15, 000 from a salesman to deliver at Maiduguri. We passed Damaturu safely but somewhere around Jakana near a radio mast one of them at the back seat said he wanted to ease himself and asked me stop. He requested that I should move to the other lane of the highway which was abandoned by vehicles due to poor quality. ‘Are you not going to move there?’ he screamed, and I complied.
“One of them disembarked and pointed a pistol at my head and said in Hausa language, Za muje aikin Allah (we are out to serve Allah) and that I should join them and I said I cannot go with them but that I serve God, not the way they do. He then requested to have the parcel containing the N15, 000 and at that point one of them at the back seat held my neck while one snatched and tore it before removing the money.
“They said none of them could drive, otherwise, they would have taken away my car. They asked me to leave and I left them there.“
Commenting on the matter, Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Borno State Branch, Alhaji Abba Shuwa said the deplorable condition of the road is a source of concern to vehicle users and called on authorities to complete the abandoned segment. He said abandoned segments of the road were responsible for accidents mostly drivers struggling to dodge deep holes.
The chairman said the government should assess and complete the road project with a view to easing hardships.
He said several complaints from drivers and passengers have revealed that most attacks have occurred in the dilapidated parts of the roads where vehicles moved at a speed less than usual.
He said, “Many travellers were allegedly abducted there; some passengers were abducted on Election Day, two weeks ago. I am appealing to the state government to intervene.”
He further said the security forces were working all day and all night to protect life and property but there was the need to identify all the troublesome areas and mount patrols.
Troops had earlier in October conducted an exercise during which they patrolled the road and restricted movement between 6am and 3pm.