A poor road network is causing socio-economic difficulties to many rural people in some parts of Taraba State, findings by North East Trust has revealed.
Our correspondent, who recently visited 11 communities in remote parts of Bali and Gassol LGAs, reports that many lives and farm produced have been lost due to bad roads.
The communities visited are Kararuwa, Yelwa, Takalafiya, Mallam Yero, Nanguru, Garko and Borno Kurukuru. Others are Bulawa, Sansani, Wuro Jam, Sandirde, Wuro Bokki, Domayo and Wuriyo.
Most of these areas are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles or motorcyles due to the sandy and muddy nature of the roads.
The situation is made worse during the rainy season when the areas are flooded.
“It is very difficult to access our area during the rainy season because there is no good road network,” Habibi Tela, one of the residents, said.
He said often bandits took advantage of the situation to dispossess people of their belongings or kidnap them.
A resident of Nanguru, Mallam Dauda Nuhu, told North East Trust that food and cash crops such as maize, rice, beans, yam, cassava and groundnut were sold at cheaper prices due to lack of access to markets.
According to him, commercial motorcyclists are used to transport farm produce to Jatau along the Bali-Takum Road or to Sabon Gida along the Jalingo-Wukari Road.
“We also face difficulty when taking the sick to hospital, especially during the rainy season, as the general hospitals in Bali, Jalingo and Mutum Biyu are far away from here.
“In some cases, patients die before reaching the hospital,” Dauda said.
He further said three women recently died while being conveyed to a hospital in Jalingo.
Alhaji Ibrahim Nanguru, another resident, urged the state government to build culverts and small bridges, as well as undertake the grading of the road to link the area from Jatau along the Bali-Takum Road to Sabon Gida and Sansani.
He said the road was last rehabilitated in 1987 and that many of the culverts constructed then had collapsed or had been washed away by flood.
He further said the community built a wooden bridge at River Yaku through self-help to provide safe and easy passage, especially during the rainy season.
“Between August and October, the area is usually cut off from the rest of the state because of flooding from River Yaku and other streams.
“All vehicles and motorcycles will have to offload their passengers and goods and people are ferried to both sides of the river to continue with their journey,” he said
The District Head of Nanguru, Alhaji Alhassan Abdullahi, said the area was blessed with agricultural produce but that lack of an access road was hampering economic and social development.
He, therefore, appealed to the Taraba State Government to upgrade the road in the area by constructing culverts and a bridge on the Yaku River to ease the difficulty people were facing.
The situation is similar at the Sabon Gida to Sansani, Sandirde, Wuro Jam and Wuriyo axis, as most of the culverts and many portions of the roads have been washed away by flood.
A resident of Sansani, Sule Sansani, said it was difficult to access other parts of the state, especially during the rainy season.
“Because of our proximity to Rivers Benue and Taraba, the area is always flooded and all the roads will be cut off.
“We have to use canoes to go to Tella or Gassol before boarding vehicles to Jalingo or other parts of the state.
“Few months ago bandits mounted roadblocks and robbed people along the Sabon Gida-Sansani Road.
“The vigilantes had to be deployed to provide security for travellers,” Sule said.
The Member representating Gassol ll in the Taraba State House of Assembly, Alhaji Abbas Kaura, told North East Trust that the absence of an access road had hampered utilisation of the area’s potentials.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Danjuma Adamu, said government had proposed in this year’s budget to open up rural communities, but that the plan was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected its revenue flow.