From Salim Umar Ibrahim & Aminu Adamu Naganye, Kano
Since the collapse of the bridge connecting Kano to more than four states in the northern region of the country, commuters have been subjected to untold hardship as they had to among other things, cut their journeys into sub destinations which comes with a huge cost. Daily Trust on Sunday in this report, shows how the collapse has affected the socio-economic activities in northern Nigeria.
More than a year after the collapse of a bridge connecting Kano to substantial parts of the North East, including Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa states, another segment of the road in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area has been destroyed by heavy water flow, further expanding the gap between the states and the commercial centre of northern Nigeria.
Multiple communities in neighbouring Jigawa State have also been severed off from the ancient Kano city, which resulted in attendant consequences on prices of commodities for the people already in economic quagmire.
Motorists and commuters from Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa states have to redirect their journeys to Maiduguri road, through Jama’are Local Government Area in the northern part of Bauchi State before reaching Kano and other North West states.
Mohammed Adamu, who traverses regularly from Bauchi to Kano, said the collapse had made it difficult for them to commute to Kano for their usual business trips.
He noted that their shortest route to Kano had been elongated by at least 100 kilometers due to the collapse of the bridges
“It is a difficult trip for us. When we reach Babaldu instead of going through Birnin Kudu, we have to divert to Gwaram Local Government in Jigawa and move to Jama’are Local Government Area of Bauchi State before following through Kiyawa Local Government Area in Jigawa to reach Kano. Extra 100km or so has been added to our journey,” he lamented.
A driver who shuttles from Kano to Bauchi and Gombe told Daily Trust on Sunday that both drivers and passengers are not finding the journey easy.
“Everyone is suffering, including drivers and even the vehicles. Passengers pay much. We burn more fuel, our vehicles suffer, and our body too,” he added.
Alternately, some passengers divide their journey into sub-destinations before arriving at their final destinations.
Musa Bala said he boarded a bus from Ningi town in Bauchi to Birnin Kudu before alighting and crossing the river on a locally made canoe at a fee before boarding another car to reach Kano city.
Bala said, “Instead of going through that long road, I took the risk of crossing the rivers. I crossed at least two rivers to come to Kano. I boarded a bus to Birnin Kudu and stopped where the bridge collapsed. After crossing, I took another car to another point where another bridge collapsed after Birnin Kudu, before I got to Kano.”
Birnin Kudu town cut off from both sides
When Daily Trust on Sunday visited the scenes of the collapsed bridges earlier in the week, Birnin Kudu had been turned to an island as no vehicle could enter or exit the bubbling local government area in the southern part of Jigawa State.
A former Jigawa State governor and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sule Lamido, is among many other prominent sons and daughters of the local government area.
Our correspondent observed that two critical bridges on the federal highway, which pass through Birnin Kudu from both ends, have been destroyed, forcing residents to use locally made wooden boats for transporting people and goods.
Daily Trust on Sunday further reports that the first bridge had collapsed more than one year earlier between Birnin Kudu and Takai Local Government Area of Kano but was abandoned after a company mobilised equipment to the site.
Consequently, Birnin Kudu has been isolated from neighbouring local governments, such as Gwaram, Kiyawa and Dutse.
The two alternative roads for Birnin Kudu residents to go to Dutse and Kano through Baranda village via Dangoli in Dutse and Kiyawa local government areas have been damaged and villagers only find solace in canoes to access their farms and neighbouring communities.
Our correspondent reports that cases of boat mishap have been on the increase in Jigawa State in the last few weeks, with as many as four separate incidents reported in different local government areas in the last two weeks, with as many as 15 people reported dead.
Residents of Birnin Kudu, who shared their experiences, told Daily Trust on Sunday that they had been subjected to very difficult situation as many provisions became inaccessible to residents.
A resident, Ado Idris said, “When this road collapsed, prices of provisions skyrocketed because our businessmen could not bring them into the town. Flour, sugar, spaghetti and fuel had all finished before this temporary fixing.”
Another resident of Kiyako community, Yunusa Abdu said, “It has become a difficult moment for the people of Kiyako, just a stone-throw from Birnin Kudu, but we can’t move to and fro. We couldn’t access health facilities, so we had to call for the services of nursing students to treat our patients because we could not take them to any hospital.”
Abubakar Suleman, a resident and businessman in Birnin Kudu said, “Honestly, it is a serious problem. It affects everyone. Because of the difficulty in bringing goods, prices have gone up in the town.
Abdullahi Naziru narrated, “An elderly man came here with a corpse of his relative but he couldn’t cross, so he had to take it back to Birnin Kudu to bury. There was no access road to his village.”
Business communities lament inaccessibility to goods
Business community and transporters in villages around Birnin Kudu are also bearing the brunt as hundreds of people are directly and indirectly affected.
Ibrahim Sindima, who often commutes to Kano from his village, Sindima, a few kilometers away from Birnin Kudu, said his journey from Kano started facing challenges when he arrived Unguwa Uku Motor Park in Kano city as there was no car heading to Birnin Kudu.
“I arrived around 9am and there was no vehicle. I had to board a bus to Kiyawa from Kano before taking another car to where a bridge connecting Kiyawa to Birnin Kudu collapsed. I boarded another car to Birnin Kudu. I wasted a lot of time, in addition to spending money,” he said.
As at Tuesday afternoon, our correspondent observed that youths were trying to fix the road at the southern end to enable them temporarily have access to Kano through Bauchi State.
Some of the people who were working on the road told Daily Trust on Sunday that they were supported by Mustapha Sule Lamido, a governorship candidate, to temporarily repair the road.
Abdullahi Yunusa, a resident said, “The road links Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa states. This is a trial from God.
“We have total lockdown in Birnin Kudu; you cannot come in or go out. People converge for self-help project to fix the road with support from our leaders like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Mustapha Lamido. He ordered that these stones be brought to fix it.
“We can’t go to Duste, the state capital, from Birnin Kudu. Our road to Dutse has been destroyed. You only use canoe to reach Dutse. The other one through Kiyawa has been washed away too. There’s no road to Duste or Kano.”
He said that with a temporary arrangement, the people of Birnin Kudu would have to go through Gwaram and Jama’are in Bauchi State before getting to Dutse, and that is roughly 40km away.
Although cars are shuttling between villages to pick and drop passengers on the two ends, the condition of the roads is likely to wreak havoc on commuters more than the collapsed bridges and culverts.
Bumps, potholes and erosion have become recurrent features of the roads, especially through the Dangoli path, such that a car cannot drive beyond 30km/hour, especially around Sandimia and Dangoli villages.
Massive and constant rains continuously wash away substantial parts of the already deplorable roads.
The chairman of Birnin Kudu Local Government Area, Magaji Yusuf, told Daily Trust on Sunday via phone that his council attempted to fix the road at the southern end in order to have access to other places via Bauchi road.
“I decided to do a wood bridge, but the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) came in we are jointly fixing the road.
“On Kiyawa and Dutse (Baranda) roads, there was an overflow of water, so they are waiting for it to subside before work commences. I was talking with the chairman of Kiyawa Local Government and a member of the House of Assembly on how to fix the road as soon as water subsides,” he said.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Work, Jigawa State, Datti Ahmed, an engineer, told our correspondent that they had written to the Federal Ministry of Work about the federal government-owned bridges and they had visited the sites for assessment, adding that they would resume work very soon.
Ahmed said the other two bridges on the state-owned roads had been assessed and reconstruction would start as soon as the heavy flow of water subsides.