Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Second Bridge Collapse Has Reduced Shendam Into 'Island' - Council Boss

Lafia — The collapse of a second bridge in the metropolis of Shendam, headquarters of Shendam Local Government Area of Plateau State, has reduced the area into what the council chairman; Dr. Nicholas Nshe Keni called "an island cut off completely from the rest of the state."

The bridge which links Total Filling Station area with the rest of the metropolis was washed off at the dawn of Tuesday, after a downpour which lasted between 9pm of Monday, and 4am of the following day.

Storm waters collected from the northern parts of the metropolis, surged on, and washed off the bridge's foundation, collapsing one pillar, and cutting off its surface and the rails. The bridge, from where the Shendam-Lafia Road, owned by the federal government, has been in a bad taste for about two years now, residents who gathered there to catch a glimpse of the disaster, said.

The disaster which was the second in days of successive floods, also washed off homes, livestock and farms, as well as other livelihood of people living along the Longvel River, which runs almost round Shendam. He first disaster had, last week Saturday, washed off the Longvel bridge at Longvel, a community at the outskirt of Shendam, along Shendam-Ibi Road, also federal government owned.

"I have been here since 1991. I know what this bridge has suffered. Every rainy season reduces the foundation of the bridge. We noticed the pillar that was washed off, chopping off in the past two years. But the government did not come. When they came, they worked only for about two days; what they did there, I don't know", Joseph Madu, a shop owner at Total section of Shendam told Daily Trust, today.

The downpour also washed an old bridge there, which could have provided an alternative to the surging population there. "You can see, even the old bridge has been washed off, cutting us off from the town. We can't go to the market, or the banks. We are living like we are in an island", said another resident there, Richard Dakat.

The incident has left the metropolis with just a pedestrian bridge running over a dam at the outskirt of the town. "The pedestrian bridge cannot even carry a motorcycle. It is only for trekking", said a resident there.

Dr. Nshe Keni, the council chairman, who spoke with Daily Trust, said the Total area bridge collapsed, only two days after he had led a team from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to show them the threat on the facility. The team had visited to donate relief materials to victims of the first bridge collapse, and was cut off from access when the second bridge collapsed while they were still in Shendam.

The chairman called the disaster a "colossal damage which has reduced Shendam into an island", and called on federal authorities to hasten steps at remedying the situation.

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