From Uche Uche, Damaturu
The current administration in Yobe state, led by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, has achieved unimaginable feat in road construction despite security challenges that tended to ground development in the state.
Achievement is a measurement of what was, in comparison with what is, and at the inception in office of the present Gaidam-led administration, record shows that, despite its size, Yobe state has less than 100 kilometer length of tarred bituminous made road and only 16 kilometer of state roads. Same source, Yobe state economic summit 2008 page 264, shows that ‘some of the rural roads in the state have deteriorated, a situation that varies from one local government area to another’.
However, as of the time of this report, Yobe state present government hasconstructed and rehabilitated over 2.957 kilometer asphalted roads, some newly constructed, others were existing but dilapidated roads, mainly federal roads that were reconstructed and rehabilitated by the present administrations and, as the time of this report, only about 80.2 kilometer road distance is ongoing but at about 80% completion stages.
One also has to take note of the fact that this feat was achieved in the midst of Boko Haram insurgency that affected work progress, expenses in funding the fight against insurgency in which the state government spent the sum of over N30 billion in the executing of the war, at a time the state lacks seriously, federal government presence, this situation is worsened by the existing national economic crisis which reduced more, the meager allocation accruing to the state from federation account.
Despite these constraints, the state government developed a properly coordinated and implemented laudable programs for both urban and rural road infrastructural development.
“Since the advent of this administration, we have been consistent in our road construction programme despite constraints arising from insecurity and funds because, right from the old Borno state, our zone has really lagged behind in the area of road network. So there is a deliberate policy by this administration to accelerate work to fill this gap and, to address this anomaly, the administration made road construction its priority by ensuring that the sector gets a lion share in budget allocation every year,” stated Engr. Lawan Shettima Ali, the state commissioner for works.
One of the road projects that is very significant in opening up transport and business activities in the rural areas is the now completed Trans-Saharan route which, during his electioneering campaign in 2011, the Governor made promises to develop the *arid zone* alongside with the Savanna region of the state.
To that effect, in 2012, history was made in this regard when the governor graciously approved the construction of what has been dubbed the Trans Saharan Road network, trans-Saharan route. It is a huge expanse of road that stretches over 300 kilometers from Kanamma to Machina with the first phase covering Kanamma to Kafiya towns, a distance of nearly 80 kilometers of road project that costs an approved sum of N12.9 billion.
This route which spanned across various community settlements like Goniri, Kirikawu, Usmandi, Gowumari, Fayakafiya, MalamGanari, Mallari, Kiribuduwa, Bukarti, Kalashan, Sidini, Kafiya, Dilala, Yunusari, Maimalari, Jebuwa, Karasuwa, GarunGuna, Old Harande, Kumagannam, Kajimaram, Gumsi to Machina with the distance of 300 kilometers is the first of its kind along the trans-Sahara Nigeria-Niger border in the whole of Northern Nigeria.
In the same vein, six other roads were also awarded together with that of Kanamma-Kafiya. The roads are 11.3 kilometres Maiduwa-Gadaka; 8 kilometres Bularafa-Bara—Teteba; 18 kilometres Potiskum-Danchuwa roads. Others are rehabilitation of 4 kilometres Mohammed Idriss way, Potiskum10 kilometres road, Geidam township roads, including drainages and 31 kilometres Gashua-Yusufari road at the accumulated cost of N17.8billion.
Also built are the 109 Kaliyari-Bayamari-Gaidam road, the 32 kilometer Gaidam-Bukarti road, reconstruction of the 155-kilometer Potiskum-Jakusko-Garn Alkali road in addition to scores of rural roads that are designed to open up rural areas and, all major towns in the state, including Damaturu, Gaidam, Potiskum, Gashu’a and Nguru, have been provided with township roads and drainages.
Estate roads have been constructed in housing estates across the state that includes Ben Kalio, Dabo Aliyu, 3 bedroom Maiduguri Road, State Low Cost,
Waziri Ibrahim, and Shagari Low Cost housing estates which were built by previous administrations, but not provided with befitting internal road networks.
Work has also been completed in the construction of 8.7Km road with 17.4Km of drainage at the newly constructed 300 housing estate along Gujba – Maiduguri ring road in Damaturu, a new housing estate built by Governor Gaidam’s administration.
Furthermore, the government has also built new roads within the newly completed 200-bed capacity hospital in Damaturu stretching over 2 kilometers among other achievements.
Of interest is the fact that some of these roads, newly constructed or rehabilitated, especially those within the estates and government owned parastatals and ministries, were constructed through direct labour scheme.
According to the state works commissioner, through this scheme, several jobless youth are being taken off the street through in a deliberate effort to boost the ministry’s manpower needs adding that at the end of the day, these youths would become road construction engineers.
He also stated that the state government has equally establish a road maintenance agency in line with the directive of the national council on work to sustain the director scheme.
“The beauty of direct labour is that it saves a lot of money for the government which is sometimes up to 30% less than what contractors would have been given for the project. For instance, putting other calculations aside, if you are giving a contract to contractors, you have to think of the 5% Value Added tax (VAT) and the profit margin. But for direct labour, you only estimate what the job will cost ordinarily and only provide logistics for the staff who will be going up and down, procure diesel for the plants,” said Engr.Shettima Ali.
To support the direct labour scheme, the governor has also, according to the commissioner, provided the state ministry of works with complete construction equipment *worth over N419 million *that includes, among others, 2 Marini plants located at Katarko along Gujba road as well as at Potiskum along Nangere road, about 20 Tippers, loading tippers, asphalt laying machine, bulldozers, graders, machines to carry heavy equipment to work sites.
To further increase the scope of work being undertaking by the state ministry of works through direct labour, the state government recently procured one concrete mixer and dumper at the total cost of N48.97, and one asphalt paver finisher Volvo at the cost of N125 million. This is in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam in the 2017 appropriation bill.
“Furthermore, heavy duty plants and machines, generators, tool among other would be purchased to facilitate the work of the ministry of works and transport…,” Gaidam stated.
The state government also has a laid down rule for the award of contract to ensure timely completion of work, quality, and value for money spent, by ensuring that contract for any project is awarded to reputable and competent contractors with track records of project execution, which is accomplished through the state Tenders Board.
One outstanding policies of the Gaidam-led administration that is always noticeable in the award and execution of projects is the establishment of a project monitoring committee chaired, in this case, by the commissioner with a supervision team that always go round with the ministry’s permanent Secretary and directors of respective Boards to supervise projects.
“We do not leave this at the hands of our resident engineers who are attached to respective projects, but we usually go out as a team from the ministry to monitor projects and we have been consistent and strict in the enterprise by ensuring quality jobs, while also taking into cognizance of the time frame. We ensure we visit projects twice every month,” the commissioner stated.
These thousands kilometer of standard asphalted road projects with its feeder roads is already benefitting rural farmers and the business community in transporting their goods and services more easily, thus helping in improving economic activities in the state, providing employment and reducing poverty in the state.
Understandably, the governor paid great attention to road projects considering especially, the plight of the people who hitherto were using old methods of transporting goods and services by means of Donkeys, Horses and horse-drawn carts among others due to the sand dune terrain.
Noteworthy among the roads reconstructed and rehabilitated are five federal government road projects in the state with the objective to ease transportation of goods and services to ensure economic development of the state.
These are; the 35 kilometer Geidam to Maine Soroa road project which was conceived by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo with the then President of Niger Republic on bilateral arrangement to create an international route network between the two countries.
There is also the 109 Kaliyari Bayamari –Geidam road project which was constructed in the early 70s but was has not been rehabilitated until the coming of the Gaidam’ administration.
The Gashua to Yusufari 31 kilometer road project which the federal government awarded in the year 2000 but was abandoned by the contracted for lack of funding by the federal government. The state government decided to take that road project because Yusufari is one of the local government headquarters that was then not linked with tarred road.
The state government also took up the construction of bridges and missing links along Buni Yadi-Bularafa-Tetteba to Gulani road project awarded by the federal ministry of works because, as the governor stated on one occasion of his inspection visits to the site, without these bridges, the road could not be of any importance use to people.
The Mother of all the federal roads projects is the 77 kilometer road spanning from Damaturu the Yobe state capital through Buni Yadi, Buni Geri up to Magza along Bui, which is the border of Borno and Yobe state respectively. It started up from Yola to Bui in Adamawa state through Damaturu to Bayamari, Gashus and Nguru with its other side to Geidam local government all in Yobe state was constructed in the early 70s spanning up to 40 years now but has never received any serious reconstruction or rehabilitation.
According to the commissioner of works, even at that time of its construction, the federal government used mere surface dressing not even asphalt, but late the Yobe state government awarded contract for the reconstruction of the whole distance of 77 kilometer with asphalt overlay, at the total cost of almost N6 billion to Rick Rock construction company.