Riverine communities in Abaji and Kwali area councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed concern as the road that links Abaji to Yaba has collapsed.
They are appealing to the Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, to as a matter of urgency come to their aid.
A cross-section of residents who spoke with Aso Chronicle said the Abaji -Yaba road is the only passable road that links over 30 rural communities in Abaji, and some neighbouring villages in Gulu/Lapai in Niger State.
They are worried that remaining part of road may collapse due to the heavy flooding in the area.
They also said two bridges, at Ashara and Kukah villages, on the road are affected by the flooding, stressing that if urgent steps are not taken by the FCT Administration, the road may cut off completely thereby affecting socio-economic activities in the area.
A resident, Usman Bako, who spoke with our reporter, said apart from the two bridges that are threatened by flood, the entire road is in a deplorable state.
He said vehicles that ply the road always have to manoeuvre around potholes, adding that since the road was built during the administration of then President Shehu Shagari in 1982, no repair work had been carried out on it.
“This is the only major road that people of the riverine communities of Abaji and Kwali and other people from neighbouring villages in Niger State use but it is now on the verge of being detroyed by erosion. There is need for government to take urgent steps to fix it,” he added.
Another resident, Yahaya Bala, said most traders who come from Auchi in Edo State and Okene in Kogi State, as well as from Ikare in Ondo State ply the road from Abaji to Yaba down to Kpada and Gulu in Niger State to buy farm produce.
He said if urgent steps were not taken by the government, commercial activities in the area would be halted.
He said the heavy flood has almost cut off the road, a situation which, he said, has made it impossible for two vehicles from opposite directions to pass at the same time. It is now a tiny one-lane strip.
He added that people from villages such as Gulida, Kpache, Mawogi, Kutara, Gurdi, Lafiya Yaba, Dogon Ruwa, Kuloho, Chakumi, Tungan-Guli, Kpada, Kutara and Peseli, are farmers who also transport their farm produce through the road to Abaji and Kwali markets.
Aso Chronicle observed that most of the crops planted by the river bank such as maize and sugar cane and also vegetable, were submerged by the flood.
A farmer, Baba Danjuma, said he harvested some of his maize across the river before the heavy rain submerged the farm. He said his major concern was the state of the road.
The Etsu of Yaba, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, who visited the collapsed portion of the road, said he was disturbed by the state of the road.
He said the road had been a nightmare and the situation would worsen now that part of it has collapsed.
He said he saw signs of the road failing at that portion before the heavy rain and he drew the attention of the authorities of the area council on the need for them to take urgent steps in order to avoid any disaster but that was not done.
“In fact, I was in a meeting in Abuja when one of my palace aides called me that when returning back home I should be very careful as that part of the road had already collapsed. And when I arrived the scene, I stopped and inspected it and since then I have been having sleepless nights,” he said.
According to him, the Yaba-Abaji road is busy 24 hours, saying, “in fact, that is why I asked some of my aides to accompany me here to tell the FCT Minister, Alhaji Muhammad Musa Bello, to please come to our aid in fixing this road, otherwise, the next rain will cut it off completely,” he said.
He said it will be frustrating and challenging for people of his chiefdom and Abaji town who ply the road having to divert through Gulu to Minna before arriving at Suleja, if urgent measures are not taken by the FCT administration to repair the road.
He recalled how people of the area had to ply through Gulu down to Minna in Niger State, before arriving at Abaji in the 1980’s when the bridge was not constructed, saying the condition of the road currently needs the FCT minister’s urgent intervention.
The traditional ruler, therefore, urged the minister to engage an indigenous contractor to carry out repairs on the collapsed section of the Yaba-Abaji road to avoid delay.
“I am pleading with the FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, that the contractor handling the ongoing Yaba-Kpace road, is doing a good and quality job, so he should award the collapsed section of Yaba-Abaji road to him to handle,” he added.
The Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Engineer Gambo Jibrin, told Aso Chronicle that he and his team have inspected the road from Dangara to Yaba at the weekend.
He said information got to the FCT Administration that the road needed quick intervention from the government.
“We recently got information that the approach before the bridge towards Yaba has been washed off by intense rainfall and that part of the bridge’s abutment is even gone. So we went and made a quick assessment of the road and it is currently receiving attention.
“I personally went there and it gave me the desire to push further so that work can commence there as soon as possible,” he added.
When asked if contractors have resumed work already on the road, Jibrin said the contractors only did some temporary control measure on the road so that people will not just run into the eroded portion.
He added that the contractor will resume work on the road in the next few days.
“The contractors cannot do any major work on that road presently because of the rain but we are going to do it in the manner that we will put very big boulders and try to restore parts of the road so that it will be passable up to the time that the rain will subside,” he said.
The executive secretary further said the road would be completed in two weeks once contractors start work.
“The entire stretch of the river has been expanded because of the erosion and the eroded parts within the bridge abutment areas will be restored, that much work will be done immediately but subsequently, they will come and do a very major work on the bridge itself and then the main earthworks on the road,” he stated.
He said the road is of economic importance to the Federal Capital Territory as there is a large body of water that makes fishery very viable, adding that the FCTA hopes to do an upgrade of the road from the Kaduna-Lokoja highway to Yaba after the restoration work has been done.
“That will make the community very lucrative because it is a very critical part of the FCT as there are lots of farmlands there and the FCT Administration will want to take advantage of that so that people will be self-employed as well,” he said.