Nigeria: Community Cry Out Over 10years Abandoned Project In Benue State
By Benjamin Idoko from Gboko Benue state, Nigeria.
The people of Agedam and Genger communities in Gboko North-West constituency of Gboko LGA of Benue State are hoping for succor concerning an abandoned State project – Genger Bridge – which is along Shima Gyoh road, and borders two communities.
Due to non-completion of the road project for over ten years [since the Senator George Akume regime as Governor of Benue state], commuters traveling through the road are subjected to life-threatening circumstances- such as accidents, flooding and outbreak of diseases. Even the alternative routes provided are gradually degrading overtime.
Three years ago, the State government started the re-construction of the Genger bridge but later abandoned the project.
The question on everyone’s lips now is: Will the bridge ever be completed?
Some residents shared their views:
“It really baffles me that things like this still happen in Nigeria. And this alone [can] bring the nation a major set back in terms of development. I wish the state government can do something about it because without it been done, more harm would be caused to us living in the area than good especially during rainy season.” Mathew Zakari, a resident of Genger.
“Well, it is very bad for the masses living in these communities and especially to the church building which is majorly threatened. In fact, [the entire] fence has been brought down by flood from the stream, which leaves the church building in threat now. It will be a thing of joy for the church and the entire community if the government do something urgently about this. Like in most cases some of our members that live across the stream find it difficult to come to church service especially during the rainy season because of the heavy water flow. So with prayers we are calling on the government whether federal or state to come to our rescue,” Pst. Onojah Ameh, a resident Pastor of the United Evangelical Church in the community .
“It is really unbearable for us living in this area especially along the road, during the dry season the amount of dust we inhale is too dangerous to our health not to talk of our various homes where we do what I call every minute cleaning if not one cannot stay in his or her home due to dust particles. Also about the bridge, we cannot cross freely to the other side when we need to buy something.” Gabriel Abu, graduate of Federal College of Education Obudu and resident along the untarred road in Agedam .
“It is very difficult for us students who live at the other side of the stream and needs to cross over to school because the level of water there cannot allow people to cross or pass. I sincerely hope that a second thought be given to this project by the state government in orer to help complete the work for us.” Owoicho Obelle, a student of National Evangelical Mission Gboko.
“As for we the business people we find it difficult to run our daily businesses each time we want to cross over to the buy goods from the market. This alone slows down our businesses and also the economy of this community is poor compared to other parts of the town. When we manage to cross to the market on coming back the commercial motorcyclist surcharge us because they have to take another route to our destination. So I’m pleading [with] the state government to do something to help savage us or something bad might happen,” Thankgod Chigozie, a business man.
Community driven solution
During raining season, the flood drives the community to an almost standstill. Some unemployed youths who are members of the community take advantage of the dry season to patch the roads with make-shift bridge, and commuters are made to remit fifty-naira [N50] to the volunteers. During this period, there is usually traffic congestion and sometimes fights between the volunteers and commuters who are unwilling to pay.
“The embarrassment we always receive from these boys in this area is too much. Sometimes, some of us don’t like carrying passengers who are resident of this area especially on this particular street because they use to fight us and cease our motorcycle keys each time we don’t have money to give to them,” Terseer Liambee, a driver who lives in Gboko-South said.
Dan Tavershima, who says he is a student of the Akperan Orshi College of Education, Gboko, but does manual labour said, “I was surprised when the so-called boys surrounded me and were beating me. Not that I never wanted to give them the N50 they required but I’m just commencing work after my last lecture and this is my first passenger for the day and she have not even paid me any money.”
A commuter, Mrs. Iorzua Iorpuu, said, “The way these boys do misbehave and brutalize people is too bad. They do this every year when its raining season because there’s no one to stop them. At times when you stop a bike and tell the bike man you are going to Genger through Shima Gyoh road, they usually refuse because of the humiliation they receive from those hoodlums.”
Complaints have been made to the Central Police station in the past. However, when the police patrol team arrived the scene, everyone ran off in different direction for fear of being made a scape-goat. The volunteers left their work-tools such as digger, hoes, shovels, ropes and head pans. The Police team took these items with them since they could not lay hands on any of the boys.
Further investigation about the plans of government to complete the project revealed that the local government representatives had no power to resolve the case. Hon. Michael Injo Yina, Councillor representing Gboko North-West constituency, during a phone chat said, “The contract was awarded by the Benue state government and it is not in my jurisdiction as a Councilor to push for the completion of the project hence it is a state project, the Local government Chairman is suppose to see that the project be completed.”
Hon. Michael Injo also spoke on his political ambition of aspiring to the State House of Assembly in the near future. If elected, he will make sure he completes the project if it has been completed before then, he said.
Efforts to reach the Head of Department at the Zonal office of the State Ministry of Works in Gboko proved abortive, as at the time this story was going to the press.