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After N830m budget, Kaiama-Kishi road still cries for attention

Robbery, kidnapping, loss of lives, low patronage of business and other vices have been the experience of the people of Kaiama and its environs over…

Robbery, kidnapping, loss of lives, low patronage of business and other vices have been the experience of the people of Kaiama and its environs over the bad situation of their major road.

The Kaiama-Kishi road of about 69 kilometres has not received any attention for over 25 years now despite what the people of the community maintained had been their contributions to the economy of Kwara State.

People of the community are known to be predominantly farmers and boast of producing more than 90 per cent of yam flour consumed in Nigeria, as well as a higher percentage of yams many households consume.

They lamented that their business has been experiencing a setback as a result of the bad road, which they said politicians have been using to campaign in the state for many years.

The people of the community said they savour smooth movement on the road only during the dry season, though with its attendant health hazard caused by the dust. During the rainy season, they said, movement is virtually impossible.

A visit by our correspondent to the area gave one an impression that the road receives the occasional attention during electioneering period when politicians and state government officials bring in a grader to smoothen it for temporary use. The people said they were no longer impressed by such a cosmetic approach to rehabilitating the road.

Lamenting the situation of the road recently in Kaiama, the Ciroma of Kaiama, Abubakar Umar, said it was affecting their community in every aspect of their lives – socially, economically and politically.

In Umar’s words “We cannot go out and do business easily. The situation of the road has given rise to criminality in and around us. The road has encouraged robbery and kidnapping, which has greatly discouraged people from patronising our area. The road has been like this for almost 25 years.

“We have made a lot of efforts through the state, our representatives at the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly. We have gone to the House of Assembly and Government House severally, and our people have also gone to Abuja to lay complaints. The Emirate Council, led by the Emir himself, has gone to Abuja many times to complain and plead, as market women have also made efforts.

“The road was awarded five years ago, but work has been very slow on it. The surface dressing you saw on the road of about 9km out of 69km was because we are in an electioneering period. Work will stop on it after the elections, till the next elections.

“That is one aspect of it. The other aspect of the road is the one that linked us to Niger State, which is about 18km. It has been abandoned too. But only recently, at the Federal Executive Council meeting, we heard it has been awarded by President Muhammadu Buhari, and we are very grateful. We are hopeful because we are sure that when this government award contracts, it is usually done as we have seen in several places.”

Another resident of the area, Abdullahi Haliru Danbaba, sharing his experience on the road, said residents were tired of appealing to the state government, which he alleged has abandoned them for many years but would remember them only during the electioneering period.

According to Dambaba, “The road project has been awarded since 2014. The project has been moving at a snail speed. We have also heard that the federal government has released the sum of N830 million for the construction of the road, but work done so far on it does not commensurate with the money released. Recently, the Kaiama-Wawa road was awarded to the tune of N23.8 billion. We want to appreciate President Buhari and Works Minister Babatunde Fashola for this, but they should please expedite action on the job to improve our economic and political fortunes.”

Meanwhile, the Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, recently said it has secured the commitment of the contractor handling the Kishi-Kaima federal road to accelerate work on the project.

The soothing words came as Gov Ahmed approved the grading of the Kishi-Teshe component of the 64km road.

Speaking with Kaiama community stakeholders, officials of the state Ministry of Works and Transport and the contractor handling the project, Rocad Construction Nigeria Limited, Ahmed said the contractor would complete the ongoing surface dressing of 8km of the road from Kaiama and the grading of the remaining 26km to Teshe.

Ahmed said he has also approved the release of funds to the Kwara State Road Maintenance Agency (KWARMA) to grade the road from Kishi to Teshe to reduce the inconvenience experienced by residents and users of the road.

He said that owing to the scale and cost of the project, the state government has secured the agreement of the federal government to take over the funding of the federal road, while the state government executes the project.

He added that although N1.1b has so far been expended on the project, including a N614m refund from the federal government, the level of work done by the contractor was not commensurate with the funds released.

The governor lamented the hardship faced by commuters on the road, warning that the state government would not hesitate to review the contract if the contractor failed to meet agreed timelines on the project.

Speaking earlier, the General Manager of Rocad Construction, Mr Dele Akintayo, explained that the bulk of the funds so far released for the project went into logistics and road preparation. He, however, pledged that work on the road would resume soon to ensure that the company meets the agreed project timelines.

Akintayo commended the people of Kaiama for cooperating with the company since the project commenced as the company’s equipment are secure even when workers are off-site.

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