The ancient city of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, has continued to face the challenge of infrastructural development. This has affected business development in the state.
The issue of bad roads has lingered for decades without any solution in site.
All the roads leading to the town are so bad that motorists can hardly move for five minutes without applying their breaks as a result of deep potholes.
The late Muhammad Lawal, a former governor of the state, was said to have tried to fix some of the roads during his tenure. His successor, Dr Bukola Saraki, also tried his best to fix some of the roads and open up new ones.
The administration of Abdulfattah Ahmed, during its inauguration in May 2011, launched Operation Fill the Potholes, which was carried out in the 100 days of the governor’s assumption of office. He also tried in opening up of new roads and fixing the bad ones. But unfortunately, the state suffered a lot during the last lap of his administration.
Many roads in the state are in sorry state. It was expected that the condition of the roads would get better as the new administration took over in May 2019, but the situation has rather become worse.
The state, which is the link between some states in the South-West and the North, needs serious attention in order to avoid further calamity.
The roads leading to the state includeý Ajapo-Offa-Erinle-Oshogbo, Olooru-Bode Saadu-Jebba,
Ajase-Ipo-Osi-Egbe-Kabba, and other federal roads linking Kwara to other parts of the country.
According to investigation by Daily Trust Saturday, there’s no good federal road linking Kwara to other states. This has forced motorists into looking for alternative routes, which attracts extra expenses, including increased transport fares for travellers, who also risk their lives and property.
Motorists and other road users have continued to lament over the bad state of roads in the state as they are costing them huge amounts of money to fix their vehicles.
Mr Bibilari Salau, a driver, lamented that there’s no road in the state capital that does not have potholes.
Flanked by other taxi drivers, Salau said, “We are looking towards what the new government in the state would do concerning the roads. We are hoping that work would start on them very soon.’’
Another motorist, Ismail Adeyemi, said it’s difficult to drive on roads in Kwara State, including the state capital, as there is no part of the state that can boast of good roads.
“Even the almighty Government Reserved Area (GRA), which is expected to have the best of roads, also has many bad portions. One can hardly drive for three minutes without entering potholes,’’ he said.
A resident of Kunlende Estate, Mrs Adejoke Muideen, who said she witnessed a series of accidents on the roads, called on government to come to their aid.
It was observed that the roads leading to Kwara north is the worst in the state. Residents of the area lamented that the past government did not remember them in terms of road infrastructure.
Residents and commuters along Alapa/Ilorin road have resulted to self help on the bridge linking Alapa and Ilorin, which is always collapsing as a result of its bad state.
In June 2019, the Kwara State Government was said to have released N20million for the immediate rehabilitation of roads in the capital city that were in bad condition and needed urgent attention.
During that period, members of staff of the Kwara State Road Maintenance Agency (KWARMA) were seen rehabilitating about 10 roads across Ilorin, the state capital, including the long-neglected Offa garage roundabout.
Usman Baba Jibril, an engineer and general manager of KWARMA, said the agency was given the mandate to quickly fix the roads.
“We have started work based on the fund the governor released to KWARMA and the Kwara State asphalt plant,’’ Jibril said.
He listed other roads to be covered under phase 1 to include Isale Aluko-Kokorokan-Ita Kudimoh; Adeta-Al-Hikmah road; Olorunshogo-Geri Alimi road; Kaduna Road, Adewole; Osere-Cemetry road; General Hospital-Geri Alimi; Offa Garage Geri Alimi road and Sani Okin road.
Jibril said they had the mandate to complete the rehabilitation of the roads within seven days, adding that the phase two of the assignment would soon begin.
Governor Abdulrazaq had said he would embark on rehabilitation of roads within the metropolis and other parts of the state in phases. He lamented the poor state of the roads across the state, saying his administration would collaborate with the Federal Government and the private sector on some of the roads, especially federal roads.
To make good his promise, the governor approved an immediate release of the first tranche of N200m as counterpart funds for the takeoff of Rural Access and Agricultural Market Project (RAAMP III) in the state,
funded by the World Bank, French Development Agency and other donor agencies. The RAAMP is a $60m programme involving at least 13 Nigerian states.
It was learnt that participating states are to pay 8per cent of the $60m to fund preliminary activities of the project, such as consultancy fee, environmental and social management framework and resettlement policy framework, among other things, as preconditions for accessing the funds.
The approval of the first tranche of N200m fulfils the first condition for Kwara State to access this fund. Once approved, this will lead to rehabilitation of rural roads in total of 600 kilometres across the 16 local government areas of Kwara State.
Recently, about 134 local contractors participated in an open bid for the construction/rehabilitation of 26 urban roads advertised by the Kwara State Government, in line with the governor’s insistence that contract awards would follow a transparent process.
Yusuf Garba Manjo, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Works and Transport, said the bids were the first phase of the exercise because roads for consideration under the phase 2 were still being compiled and scheduled for action in the first and second quarters of 2020.
“The present administration under the leadership of Abdulrazaq is committed to ensuring that construction works are given to competent contractors. In furtherance of this, the ministry shall follow due process to ensure that qualified contractors are awarded the projects to ensure quality service delivery to the people. We shall ensure strict compliance with the public procurement act,” he said.
He said that road construction/rehabilitation was part of the urban renewal programme of his administration.
In the 2020 budget estimate the governor presented to the State House of Assembly, critical infrastructure and human capital development have a larger chunk.
The N162bn fiscal plan comprises 53per cent capital expenditure covering road construction and rehabilitation, and re-equipment of schools and hospitals, rehabilitation of courtrooms, and completion of a 500-seater hall building at the House of Assembly, according to the governor.
“Basically, we are presenting a budget estimate of N162billion for 2020, up from N157bn budget of the outgoing year. For this year, we propose 47per cent recurrent expenditure and 53per cent capital expenditure in a deliberate attempt to invest in the future and grow the economy through critical infrastructure and human capital development. One unique thing is that this budget is having an opening balance of N7bn, or 4.3per cent of the budget proposal that we have saved in the past seven months.
“Key highlights of the budget include construction of Kwara State innovation hub for information technology; large scale garment production factories; resuscitation of moribund industries; construction of new (urban and rural) roads; rehabilitation of public schools; capacity building for teachers for efficient service delivery; payment of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) contribution, rehabilitation of hospitals and health centres, with provision of modern medical and laboratory equipment; payment of counterpart funds, and implementation of health insurance,’’ the governor said.
Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday on the state of the roads in Kwara State, the chief press secretary to the governor, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, said the state government recognised the huge infrastructure deficit in the state, especially in the area of roads. He said it was in recognition of this fact that capital expenditure took a large chunk of the 2020 budget.