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Slow pace of work on Karshi-Apo road worries residents

The Minister of FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, touted the Karshi-Apo road as one of his achievements during 2018 Democracy Day. However, findings have shown that work on the all-important road has progressed at snail speed.

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Paul Bala was seen pushing his bike uphill, almost slipping and rolling over the rocky ground. His younger brother clutched tightly to a ragged bag as he trudged uphill, panting.

The older Bala said they go through that experience every time they travelled from Chorin Bisa to Ara or from Ara to Chorin Bisa.

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“The distance is short but climbing the hills and descending the valleys on this rocky road is not easy. Even on a bike, it is tiring. It is worst when it rains because most portions of the road become slippery and you cannot ride on it,” Bala said.

The 14 kilometre road has remained largely untarred and consequently inaccessible. The contract for the construction of the road was awarded since 2011 at the cost of N6.4 billion.

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 N6,355,609,124.53.

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.

Aso Chronicle learnt Kakatar was mobilized to site with the sum of N2.4 billion (N2,373,619,680.99), about 37 per cent of the contract sum.  Two months after the road contract was awarded, the company began work at the site on March 23, 2011.

The idea behind the construction of the  road was to ease traffic congestion along the Mararaba-Nyanya-AYA axis but seven years after, it is still unclear when it will be completed.

“The road is bad so linking Ara is difficult. We go to school at Ara but we squat there with relatives because going and coming back every day, with this state of the road would be too tiring,” Bala added.

Our reporter who travelled on the road from Apo to Waru and then Wassa, up to Chorin Bisa, got stuck with his vehicle on top of the hill where he met the Balas.

He discovered that the road was tarred from Wasa up to the LEA Primary School Chorin Bisa, a distance of just about 3 kilometres. There was no sign of new tarred road beyond that point and the surfacing beyond that point was at preliminary stage.

Some residents of Chorin Bisa whom our reporter approached for comments declined, saying they were tired of commenting on the road, saying authorities were not committed to completing the road.  

There were no construction workers on site but earth moving machines and heavy duty trucks were littered on the stretch of the road that remained largely decrepit and degraded at some portions by erosion.

Due to the erosion, at some areas, motorists had created a path through the bush and if you are a first timer on the road, you may end up taking the wrong direction.

From the Karshi end too, once you leave the well paved roads in the town, you then drive on a dirt road linking Ara-Apo. The only visible sign of work there too was clearance. Though our reporter wanted to get to Ara to find out if more serious work was happening further down the road, his vehicle hit a rock and the bottom plate broke.

However, a staff of the construction company riding in a white Toyota Hilux, told our reporter that work was going on further down the road. 

The man who said he was the assistant project manager and gave his name as Engr. Chris urged our reporter to go to the site office in Karshi to obtain more details of work on the road. But when our reporter visited the office, last Thursday, there was no senior staff on ground to comment on the road. 

A resident of Navy Estate, Karshi is not happy that the road has not been completed several years after it was started. Engr Peters Oluwakayode  said he relocated  from Efab Estate, Jabi, Abuja to Karshi during the summer of 2011in anticipation of the construction of the road. 

“Despite the long distance coming from Karshi to  my work place in Abuja, I moved, expectant that when the road is completed, it would be easier for me to get to the city. Ever since I moved I’ve always made inquiries on the completion of the road and I am disappointed that it has not been completed up till now.

“I wake up 5: 00 AM every morning to go to work. Despite waking up this early, I still get to work around 8am because on my way there’s always traffic jam and the terrible Karu road slows me down. 

“Having this road completed will ease a lot of stress. It is rather disheartening that the minister chose to celebrate this road when it is yet to be completed,” he added.

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) during the Democracy Day celebration cited  the Karshi Apo road construction as some of the achievements of the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello’s achievements.

The Coordinator, Satellite Towns Development Department (STDD), Alhaji Ishaku Tanko Yamawo, while reacting to the story, said work was progessing very well on the road. He said the areas where Aso Chronicle accessed where the problematic portions on the road but that the contractors were sorting that out and the road would soon be completed.

Yamawo explained 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 that the road was completed and the contractor had promised to deliver the job latest December 2018. 

“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 located 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, ” an internet search for the projects the company is handling revealed.

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