By Muhammad Al-Ameen
The World Bank says the structural transformation from subsistence to market economy is dependent on functional transport system. Therefore the need to have good roads to propel efficient
transportation to fast track the economy is both pressing and obvious. Yobe state sits on a land mass of over 47,000square kilometers and a population of 2.3 million people. It is endowed with huge agro based deposits like Gum Arabic produced in Damaturu, Nguru, Tarmuwa, Bursari, Gujba and Jakusko local government areas as well as maize, beans, groundnuts, sesame seeds and, livestock produced in virtually all the 17 local government areas of the state.
The state also has solid minerals including limestone, gypsum, kaolin and potash in Fika, Gulani,Gujba, Fune, Nguru, Giedam, Yunusari, Yusufari and Machina among others. These potentials had been laying for ages with little attempt to explore and exploit them for the economic growth of the people and
state. Similarly, the difficult terrain and lack of good roads had in the past discouraged government from inviting local and foreign partners to explore the rich deposits. It was in realization of the need to exploit these deposits and, stimulate economic growth in the state that, the Ibrahim Gaidam administration declared revolution in the road sector. Governor Gaidam pledged to construct roads in all parts of the state to tap the potentials in the state. The decision by government to build roads as strategic infrastructure for economic development of the state was wise and timely.
Initially, people were skeptical of the declaration to build roads because previous governments had failed to actualize such declarations. But four years after, a drive from Baimari to Yunusari, Gashua to Yusufari, Giedam to Bukarti and, Yunusari to Yusufari shows long tarred undulating roads crossing the high sand dunes which were
hitherto most difficult terrains in the desert. To Gadaka and Godowoli communities, the construction of the road meandering through the rocky gorges was a dream come true. It is amazing that the dilapidated but busy 109km Kaliari-Baimari-Giedam federal highway which claimed many lives and halted business activities was rehabilitated by Yobe state government to resuscitate socio-economic activities in the communities on the route. Gashua to Yusufari, a distance of 31 kilometer, usually took three hours on the dusty route but now it is covered in just 15 minutes.
The proposed Soda factory in Yusufari went into limbo immediately
after the return of the technical partners who visited the area only once due to poor road. Although the federal government awarded contract for the construction of the road, the contractors left and the project was abandoned. The taking over and completion of the road by the Gaidam administration
was quite commendable. The construction of this road has once again provided another opportunity for the establishment of the Soda firm as well as, exploiting the rich potash deposits in the area. I was privileged to witness the celebration of the newly constructed Baimari-Yunusari road by the mammoth crowd in Yunusari. They sang and danced chanting “Shettima Kwaltama”, meaning “Shettima the road master” to welcome the commissioner for works Alhaji Lawan Shettima who was on an inspection tour of the road.
The construction of 300km trans Sahara route is one of the single longest road projects undertaken by a state government. It cuts across over 200 communities in four local government areas. This will no doubt
spur economic activities among the benefitting communities. The 40km Girgir -Karage road and, 18km Potiskum-Danchuwa roads have provided the communities with easy movement of goods and services.
Similarly, the rehabilitation of 145km Potiskum-Garin Alkali, 77km Damaturu-Magza and, construction of 35km Geidam-Mainesorroa and 58km Nguru-Machina federal highways would also boost economic growth.
It is also laudable that township roads have been constructed in Damaturu, Potiskum, Giedam and Nguru to promote easy flow of traffic and give the emerging cities a good facelift. Yobe state government has so far constructed and rehabilitated 318km on six federal roads out of the over 1,000 km roads constructed in the
last four years. The construction of over 1,000 kilometers of roads by any government certainly provides hope for immediate and long term economic prosperity. Already, there are reports of increase in the volume of trade in livestock, onions, wheat, groundnuts, sesame seeds and vegetables in Giedam, Gashua, Nguru, Bursari, Machina and Yunusari local government areas. It is, therefore, clear that roads create broad economic growth and deserve priority attention for economic development.
Muhammad Al-Ameen can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org