Concerns over deplorable state of federal roads, bridges in Kwara | Dailytrust

Concerns over deplorable state of federal roads, bridges in Kwara

The deplorable state of federal roads and bridges in Kwara State has led to frustration for road users, loss of lives and economic activities of the people and host communities. Despite efforts from the government, the roads present state has compounded the worries of many motorists and residents alike within and outside the state who have pleaded for expedite action, especially with the coming of the rainy season. Daily Trust Saturday reports

Malam Iliasu is a commercial truck driver who has plied the Oko-Olowo/Jebba/Eiyenkorin expressway for several years now. However, any time he gets to the failed portion of the road, he’s usually apprehensive, praying for divine help to successfully navigate the portion that has resulted in loss of goods and damage to his truck. But on Friday, he was not that lucky as his truck is still on the ground after it somersaulted.

Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, the driver of the vehicle who spoke through an interpreter said it has been a nightmarish experience for him. “I work for a chemical company and was asked to go and deliver 3000 tones of agro chemical products in Lagos. Sometimes, I end up spending days after such experience, trying to fix my vehicle, not to talk of the attendant financial implication on my resources. The bad spot had caused us serious damage and exposed us to security threat. My appeal is to those who are concerned with this road to expedite action on its repair. For how long are we going to be experiencing such agony at our detriment and without any succour from government?” he asked.

Audu Abdullateef, a commercial driver who transports yams and other goods through the decrepit Moro Iron bridge, said the dilapidated state of the facility has really affected business.

“We transport yams and other goods brought from Oyo to other places to make a living. But the poor condition of the bridge, has drastically reduced patronage and the attendant effect on my business and family is enormous. Because of the nature of the bridge, two vehicles cannot be on it at the same time and so you end up spending over two hours just to pass, imagine! And even while it is now your turn to pass, you have to be very careful because many deaths have been recorded in the past after vehicles plunged into the river while trying to cross the bridge.

“My plea is to the government or whoever is in charge to expedite action on the permanent solution to this bridge. This perennial makeshift repair has turned us to seasonal commercial drivers. Any time the bridge is bad, my economic activities are on standstill and my income substantially reduced in an era that we are experiencing hyper inflation and economic paralysis. The government should please come to our aid by finding a permanent solution on this bridge because it is killing lives and businesses, especially at night when unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians mistakenly fall inside,” he added.

Another commercial operator, Alhaji Abdullateef Salaudeen, said “Ordinarily, this period is among the peak period of their business as many farmers in readiness for the planting season engage them to help transport their fertilizers and other items intended to be used to prepare farms and seedlings.  

“We have to use the Moro Bailey Bridge when going to Baruten in Kwara North through Igbeti in Oyo State. But our joy in reaping from the situation as one of our peak business periods is no more realistic because of the state of the bridge. It has always been a terrible experience for us any time this bridge develops fault. We are seeking a permanent solution to this issue. The federal government has started the construction of a permanent bridge, but we don’t know what is slowing down the completion of the work. This hardship is becoming unbearable,” he noted.

A bread seller, Niyi Oguntade, said although work has commenced on one section of the Oko-Olowo expressway, economic activities have not fully peaked. He said “While we will appreciate the ongoing repair works, we plead with the federal government to complete the project on time. Many motorists abandoned this road because of the failed portion which led to the collapse of economic activities around Peke axis here in Eyenkorin.”  

A motorist, Yekeen Omoniyi, while speaking with Daily Trust Saturday pleaded for the speedy completion of the new Moro Bridge.

“We and other traders pay revenue to cross this Bailey bridge but we have not really seen how our taxes are being deployed for our benefit. Many of our relatives and friends have lost people here who have fallen into the bridge while trying to cross it. Palliative works at most have been done by the road unions. The traffic on a daily basis here is over a thousand because of its importance to the country’s food sufficiency and yet it is been handled with such levity. 

 

“Are they telling us that it will take a thousand years to complete a replacement bridge that is not up to the size of a three-storey building? This is really appalling,” he submitted.

On Ekiti Road in Kwara South, a car owner, Mr Norbert Ashaolu, said the bad state of the federal road has had a corresponding effect on the worsening security situation in the area. “Apart from the damage to our vehicles, the bad state of the road has aided the insecurity situation in the area which has affected the social and economic activities of residents,” he said. Ashaolu called for collaborative efforts in fixing the road to improve the social and economic situation of the area.

The Kwara State government earlier in the week made a passionate plea to the Federal Government to save the state from imminent disaster as a result of the damaged Moro Bailey Bridge and the washed-off road near Oyun Bridge in Ilorin.

The state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Engr. Rotimi Illiasu, while conducting an on-the-spot assessment of the affected areas and bridges alongside the Director of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in the state, Engr. Jato Abdulakeem, appealed to the federal government to expedite action on some of the projects.

“Our appeal to the Federal Government and Federal Ministry of Works, in particular, is that they should speed up the work on the new bridge that will serve as a permanent solution to the ancient iron bridge, in the interest of citizens and motorists plying the road on daily basis.

“Another appeal is to our representatives at the National Assembly, although, we have been engaging them and they also assured us that they will follow it up during the budget presentation and also visit the minister of Works on our federal roads. 

“All our federal roads are not in good condition, and we believe that in a very short time we will start seeing changes,” he noted.

On the Oyun Road, the commissioner said “Oyun Road, close to bridge is another bad road; it was started by the last administration. It is a Federal road that state was looking at doing and getting a refund but there are processes to that to ensure the refund. Unfortunately, those processes were not followed then. They started it and were not getting fund, and at a point, they abandoned work on the road and there were some parts they did not do very well.” 

Speaking on the efforts of the Federal Government and his agency on the Bailey Bridge and other federal roads in the state, the Director of FERMA, Engr Jato Abdulakeem, said “the bridge was a substandard one because it was not designed to accommodate heavy vehicles and to that extent, it was making a lot of impacts on the panels and beams. 

“We are aware of the current bad condition of the bridge, but it is the Federal Ministry of Works that is doing the palliative now, due to the reason that they are the one executing the ongoing new bridge project. On the Oyun Road, along the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), we have forwarded a proposal to the Abuja office and once it is out, we will commence repair works,” he added.

Recently, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and its counterparts in the Road Transport Employee Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) led other roads users to protest the dilapidating condition of the Moro Bailey bridge and other federal roads in the state.

The Kwara RTEAN chairman, Alhaji Olayinka Onikijipa, pleaded with the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, for 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 transport workers 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 measure 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.

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