Almost a decade after the federal government awarded the contract for the Karshi-Apo road project, the work is yet to be completed, making FCT residents on the Karu-Nyaya-Kurudu-Orozo-Karshi axis to groan daily in the intractable traffic snarls along the Nyanya-Mararaba road, and the residents are not amused.
Kakatar CE Limited is constructing the Apo-Karshi Road project. The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) Abuja, awarded the contract to Mangrovetech (now Kakatar Group) Construction & Engineering Nigeria Limited in 2010. The project is in the eastern part of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Karshi satellite town. At the moment, the project is on course. When completed, the road would open up the area and its surroundings to the FCT’s rural suburbs and provide residents access to available opportunities, potentials and possibilities for development, empowerment and transformation of the local economy,” so goes a post on Kakatar Group’s Facebook page.
The Apo-Karshi road, which links Karshi (a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory) and Apo, has been under construction for about seven years now, since the Goodluck Jonathan administration. The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) announced the award of the contract to Kakatar Construction and Engineering Nigeria Limited on January 19, 2011 at the cost of N6.3billion. The scope of the contract covered site clearance and earthworks, construction of culverts (pipe and box) of various sizes, drainages, construction of two bridges of 3-span (45m) and 5-span (75m), rehabilitation of one bridge, as well as pavement and surfacing.
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From the Apo road in Karshi, a road links to residential quarters of the Nigerian Navy, and then to the Nigerian Army Post-Service Housing Estate in Kurudu, as well as the Police Quarters adjacent to the Army Estate which accommodates many serving and retired senior army officers. This means that residents on that axis can easily link Karu, Nyanya, Asokoro, Central Area and then Mararaba, thereby extensively reducing the perennial heavy traffic on the Nyanya-Mararaba road which has defied solutions overtime.
Unfortunately, the work has dragged on to 2018, with the only activity noticed this year on the site being trucks and other machines heaping sand and other materials on the road. Important as the road might be, it is not being given the deserved attention, residents say, leading to frustration and apparent anger among them.
“It takes roughly about 30 minutes to cross over from Karshi to Apo,” Michael Isama, a building construction worker, said as he rode on the unhealthily dusty 14-kilometre Karshi-Apo road on his motorcycle. When construction work isn’t available, commercial motorcycling is what he does for a living, but the route is one he hates to take for health reasons.”
Residents like Isma, who have lived eight years in Karshi, still look on with hope as the work lingers. If there is anything that keeps him in Karshi, it’s the affordable rent.
“A two-bedroom flat is around N120,000 and one bedroom is about N80,000,” he said.
An FCTA worker, Akpan Harrison, who has commuted from Nyanya to Karshi for 12 years, added that it would have been a great relief to residents and even non-residents if the road was completed. He pointed out that the influx of people to Karshi is higher than it was in 2006 when he was posted there.
“People are moving into the area and if that road was finished, it would have been an avenue for others to come into the town. The hold-ups on the Mararaba-Nyanya road have been worsened by the lack of an alternative route. Most people would have preferred to go through the Karshi-Apo road to their various offices in Abuja city and back home,” Harrison said.
“FCT ministers, both the present and the former, haven’t done us good by not completing the road. There’s nothing as good as giving access roads to the masses. Most of the foodstuff that goes to Nyanya comes from a village after Karshi called Hara, but those people find it difficult commute,” he said.
Mrs. Deborah Joseph, a nurse, lamented that business in Karshi is not profitable, while another resident, Mrs. Grace Elisha, added that some items are more expensive in Karshi than in Nyanya.
Unlike other parts of the FCT, the market day in Karshi attracts only a few people. “Many people have bought lands here, including hotels, but they are all waiting for the road to be completed. As soon as it is completed will come in, but they don’t appear serious with it,” Mrs. Elisha said.
But why does the project keep dragging?
Isama pointed out that the contractors appear to lack enough equipment to carry out the work and people have been complaining. A former worker at the site also claimed that there is a lack of adequate manpower and “the managers are not handling things the proper way.”
A couple of months ago, there were no construction workers on the site but earth moving machines and heavy-duty trucks littered the road that remains largely degraded. From the Karshi end, once one leaves the well paved roads in the town, the only visible sign of work there is clearance.
Earlier in the year, the Coordinator, Satellite Towns Development Department (STDD), Alhaji Ishaku Tanko Yamawo, said work was progressing very well and the road would “soon be completed”.
Yamawo told Daily Trust that the delay in delivering the project was not with the FCTA but with the contractor, Robert Azibola, who allegedly had problems with the EFCC and his accounts were frozen.
He, however, said based on what he and the minister saw on Thursday last week, work had resumed fully on the road and it was at about 60 to 65 per cent completion level.
“When we monitored the work on the road last Thursday, the minister said that was the only day he had been to the site and was happy with what he had seen. So that tells you that the contractor is working assiduously to complete the project,” he said.
He assured residents that the minister was determined to complete the road and the contractor promised to deliver the job latest December 2018. But residents say that is what they have been hearing-endless, empty promises of delivery, for almost a decade.
The angry residents feel they, as well as the road, are being neglected as a characteristic of government’s usual behavior towards the masses.
“They feel they can drag this project till infinity because government’s “big men” don’t reside here. If they were residing here they would have rushed to do this road a long time ago, they don’t work for the people, they work only for their selfish interests”, a female resident of Orozo who pleaded anonymity said.
A resident of Kurudu, Mrs. Philomena Awazie, believes the government does not take the masses serious, hence the apparent neglect.
“They feel they can treat people anyhow, they can go ahead doing what they like, but we are tired of their cock-and-bull explanations. If it was a serious country this road would have been completed long ago because of its strategic importance as an alternative to the Nyanya-Mararaba road,” she said.
When Daily Trust spoke to the Public Relations Officer (PRO), STDD, Felicia Meeme, she said the road was about 75 per cent completed but was slowed down a bit because of the rain.
“There are just some major things that cannot be done now until the rain subsides. There is a way engineers calculate its progress that a layman cannot understand. My coordinator said he is hoping the work would be concluded by December,” she said.
Unreachable FCTA site manager
But what is delaying its completion being that the work had been contracted years ago? Meeme explained that there were some technical issues that needed to be resolved. The FCT Administration Satellite Town Development Department Secretariat is very close to the uncompleted project. When Daily Trust visited the site office in Karshi, the site manager could not be reached for comments. When the staff available contacted him, he made no response to this reporter’s request, and as yet, the residents are certainly not amused.
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