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Published On: Thu, Sep 18th, 2014

Residents cry foul over deteriorating Abuja oldest road

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Colapsing bridgesThousands of residents in Gwagwa and Jiwa satellite towns of Federal Capital Territory are in a dilemma over the deplorable state of the oldest Abuja road which links many communities with the city centre . Ochiaka Ugwu examines the situation.

The apparent refusal of FCT authorities to refurbish old Gwagwa-Keffi road which linked Dei-Die, Saburi, Jiwa, Zaudna, Gwagwa, Jiwa, Akarakam, Idu, Karmo and Kado suburbs is currently giving thousands of residents of the various communities along the axis cause for worry with many accusing the government of turning their back when they needed them most.

This is one of the numerous problems facing these communities. The expressway reputed to be the oldest road in the territory could best be described as hell for motorists and commuters. Each day, according to residents, they agonise over the mental torture the bad road has subjected them to.

To most of them, the city is leaving them behind as they are merely existing and not living. Though, Abuja is developing very fast, but Gwagwa and some communities in that axis are certainly not part of that development.

Speaking to Peoples Daily, an indigene of Jiwa and Secretary of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the FCT, Alhaji Abdulahi Adamu (Candido) said the hardship experienced by his people were enormous as most of them could not carry on with their economic activities owing to the bad state of the road. He said the road is an eyesore which is better imagined than seen.

Candido, who said that even the devil will feel a pang of pity on sighting the precarious state of the road lamented government neglect to suburb dwellers saying that they have deliberately refused to recognise the fact that they need social amenities like those in the city centre.

“This road is really an eyesore. It is something that is better imagined than seen. For us in the suburb, Nigerian government has failed to realise that we also deserve social amenities like those who are living in the city centre. For a road to be completely damaged, for a bridge to cut off, it means what has just been done to the road and to the bridge is what government has also done to the people.

Candido who blamed everything on bad governance said that government has failed the people by not living up to their expectations.

“The government with that action has cut off the people telling them you are on your own. That is what has happened to us and so what we are asking is that Nigerians trough their government if they have any, should be told to their face that they have failed them woefully.

He therefore, appealed to government at all level to expedite action towards rehabilitating the road to lessen the suffering of the people.

“Is it the federal government, is it the ministry, and is it the area council? All these institutions have one thing or the other that they can do to bring back the road as it was or even better. For the people, what else could they do? They are only managing to survive. The only thing they do is to wake up early in the morning and go to their farm. Some of them from Gwagwa, Jiwa, Tasha and Zaudna always move to the city either as labourer or anything just to earn a living.

The former Councillor of Jiwa Ward noted that since government has turned deaf ear to their plight, they will rather remind them of their not-too-good attitude.

“We should better tell them that they have failed and it is an eyesore. It is not a good image that they are portraying. They are also telling us that we don’t have any responsible government that the government we are having is very irresponsible and it does not have the wishes and aspiration of the people in mind.

He optimistically assured that if the road is not done before 2015, that the APC will surely do it by the grace of God when they come to power.

“If they cannot do it, between now and 2015 Gods willing the moment we come on board, we are assuring Nigerians it will be the first priority as far as those of us who are staying here are concerned, we are going to put that bridge to use, the road will be better maintained. It will be different from what we are having today.

Moreover, the former AMAC Secretary urged government to use FERMA to do something at least to minimize the suffering of the people.

He regretted that the situation has affected his people negatively as it has brought shame to their people.

“They can’t do anything you know or how do you expect somebody to continue using that road at least for fear of his life? No matter what he\she is going to the market to buy, but for fear of his life, it has affected the home; it has affected the economic development of the people. Their children cannot go to school because of money. They are tied down to their home. So, I can assure you that those who you said are dinning with the government and are living around this side God will really punish them” he concluded.

Collaborating Candido is the Matawallen Gwagwa who said that he is in short of words on the misfortune the road has brought to his people. He narrated how the community wrote to the relevant authorities with the intent of finding a solution to the damaged road but all to no avail.

His words “My name is Alhaji Yusuf Adams, the Matawallen Gwagwa. As the Matawallen, I am the chief adviser to our chief, Alhaji Shaibu Baro, Chief of Gwagwa and I act when instructed by the chief to do so. My chief has appealed to FCT authority over this road which they promised they will do, but up till now nothing has happened. The road is just going from bad to worse as you can see.

The Matawallen Gwagwa who took us back memory lane informed how they tried in the past to do something in their own little way, but could not achieve anything remarkable owing to lack of resources. He said the road was the only road in the city when FCT was created in 1976 and it beats his imagination that the road that developed the capital city everybody is enjoying now could be left to deteriorate to this extent.

“The road as it is now is giving us concern. We have even tried to do something with our lean resources but to no avail since most people living here are low income earners or struggling population that goes to city everyday in search of livelihood. When FCT was created in 1976, this is the only road in the territory then. So, this is the road that built this capital city all of us are now enjoying.

He therefore, appealed to Abuja Municipal Area Council, Federal Capital Administration, Ministry of Works, and the Federal Government to come to their aid before things get out of hands.

“Our people cannot go to the market and if they have their produce in the farm they can’t even transport it home. It is just unfortunate that the road is deteriorating on daily basis. We are suffering and we are using this medium (Peoples Daily) to call on the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Federal Capital Territory, FCT administration and the Federal Government to come to our aid. Given the level of deterioration even bicycle cannot ply it now. They should come as soon as possible to assist us.

On the effort made before now, he said they wrote some time ago through their councillor who promised that before the rainy season they will commence work on the road. “As you can see nothing has been done”.

He said the road was rehabilitated last when the Vice-President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo came to Idu to commission a hospital. “The road was hurriedly patched. We now thought they have finally remembered us, but after that nothing was done again”.

“It has now become a case of when any prominent person is coming; they will embark on a temporary maintenance only for them to leave immediately after the person must have left. Our bridge is collapsing, is it until it collapses that they will do it? He asked rhetorically. .

Alhaji Yusuf noted that it is worrisome that a big community like theirs is lacking such an important infrastructure like road network.

“We now also want to appeal to the relevant agencies to lift this burden off our neck. Our subjects have been complaining to us reminding us of our promise to always take their cases to the authority for redress. This we have done, but nothing has come out of it. We in Gwagwa have always done our civic responsibilities. We now want them to reciprocate this gesture by commencing work on this road not only to be visiting us any time they need our votes.

Continuing, he complained that any time he goes to the town with his car that he will come back looking for panel beater to either put the exhaust pipe in order or do body repair.

“As you are going, the car will be entering potholes and this will be affecting the body. The road leading from Gwagwa to Tasha is no longer passable. You know what it means.

He stated that accident have been on the increase with the Motorcycle riders recording the highest casualty.

“Accident involving Bike Riders and pregnant women has become a reoccurring decimal in this place. For crying out loud, they should not neglect the road that built FCT itself. It is known as old Gwagwa-Keffi road.

An Okada Rider, Sabir Umar, who spoke in Hausa, hinted that most of his colleagues are even planning to relocate to another community to pursue their trade due to the dangers posed by the road to the riders, their cyclists and passengers as well.

“As am talking to you now, most of them have relocated to other places as there is no sense working and using the proceeds to repair the motorbike. We are just working for the mechanics, because we must visit them at the end of day to repair the damages caused by the bad state of the road”.

“I am not happy with the situation. It has led to traffic jam making it impossible for free flow of traffic. Even if I wash the Motorcycle, it must be dirty again which means you will keep on washing it till you close for the day as nobody will patronise a dirty bike”.

A commercial bus driver also known as Araba, Mr. Innocent Chima described the whole situation as unbearable. Chima said after the FCT authority banned them from operating in the city centre they could have as well make the roads in satellite towns (motorable) to enable them operate without hitches. While appealing to the relevant authorities to do something urgently in seeing that the road is built to standard, said he will appreciate it if the authority will help him in procuring another bus as the one he using currently has become rickety all thanks to the road.

In short, the city is leaving us behind because very soon we may not have access to the city centre as the only bridge linking the road to the city centre is at the verge of collapse” one of the residents said.

Our effort to get the reaction of the FCT administration proved abortive as the Special Assistant to the Minister on Projects Inspection, Monitoring and Information Technology, Engineer. Eric Anyamene who earlier promised calling us back refused to pick his call. Even the test massage sent to his phone was not replied.

Members of the communities have lamented the danger the road posed to their life and property and are, therefore, urging the government to come to their aid. If government in their usual manner of turning deaf ear when it concerns ordinary Nigerians decides to dismiss their cry with a wave of hand, the helpless residents have no alternative but to live with what the system has bequeathed for them.

But all we are saying is that these people just like people in the city centre deserve the best of amenities this government has over provided for those leaving in the city. The poor has the right to live and what is good for geese is also good for the gender.

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