16 August 2012

Nigeria: The 'Killer Bridge' in Kaduna Suburb

Kaduna. — A 'killer bridge' is located at the boundary between Karatudu and Romi, Chikun Local government Area of Kaduna state and it has claimed the lives of many.

A resident, Mike M.B Kanwai said he wonders why the government came and started the construction work on the bridge in the first place. "The bridge ought to have been allowed as it was three years ago. The then government started construction work but abandoned it along the line. The bridge is now killing people," Kanwai said.

Kanwai who resides in Romi, describes the Bridge as a "Killer Bridge" which has claimed the lives of over 15 people ,including children, in the past three years.

"I was in Rigasa with my Parents ,but the unfortunate Sharia crises in 2000, made us to relocate. We first stayed in Romi because our house and all our belongings were burned down. But my father later got a land to build a house in Karatudu.

"When we came, residents put efforts between 2000/2001 to build a bridge along which people were passing , including Motor bikes. But in 2009 the government came here and commenced the process of building the bridge. We were all happy, a few months later we no longer saw the contractors on the site again," Kanwai added.

It was gathered that the other bridge constructed by the residents was destroyed as a result of the construction by the government, and has caused serious gully erosion that is threatening the planks erected by the government at the site.

"From that period, we have been managing to pass but the unlucky ones get killed, once they fall inside the river. Just recently when the water covered the banks of the river, another person was killed while crossing the bridge," said Iliya Bako.

"If there is anything the government can do to our people living here, they should come quickly and speed up actions towards constructing this bridge that has killed many of our children, 75-year-old Ishaku Bodam said

He attributed the slow pace of development in the area to the bridge, adding "Just look at the population of this community. To secure a land here is not an easy task because it's expensive. All these communities emerged as a result of crises in Kaduna state. We have no option than to develop these bushes after our houses were in other places.

"If one comes to see the development here within this period, he or she will be amazed. Our cry is that this bridge should be constructed because we know that construction of a bridge always comes with tarring of the road. If residents can take good steps towards repairing this bridge for economic activities to boom, why should the government destroy it without continuing with their work? the 75-year-old asked.

According to him, "we are enjoying our peace here, but for people of our community to keep dying on this bridge over negligence of government, then there is a big question to ask. The death of people owing to this bridge is more of a calamity to us. This is more than the crises experienced in other places of the state, and urgent measures need to be taken," he added.

Responding, the Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Chikun Local government, Auta Maman Bussa said that when he came in July last year, his attention was drawn to the bridge by the people of the community, and he went on a tour to ascertain the true situation.

"I saw the need for a bridge across that river where construction work commenced three years before I came. I spoke to the people and assured them that as soon as the rainy season was over, we will do some work there.

"When the rainy season was over, I called the contractor and mobilized him back to the site. He told me the money he was being owed by the local government. I mobilised him with what we had in the council at that time, and he went back to site and made a few concrete slabs in the middle.

"But because the project was beyond the Local governments capacity, and it has been one area we needed help and the cry of the people was sounding louder everyday which gives me sleepless night, the government of Kaduna state intervened. Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa has taken away that burden and very soon, the people of the area will have relief," Bussa said.

According to him, "It was a very important project because of the number of people living in both sides of the river. The school children who will on a cross line take 10-15 minutes work to school. That was not possible because of the river and had to go round the federal housing, the Abuja express way, back to Romi before they can get to their classes. That was a great concern," he said

"The governor of Kaduna state, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, took over the construction of the bridge. We are so impressed because the governor has lifted a great burden off my chest. Each time i want to sleep and remember Karatudu/Romi Bridge, it worries me. But today, the government of Kaduna state has taken away that burden, and very soon the people of the area will have relief.

"We are calling on the people of Kaduna state to make peace with one another, because development can only take place in an environment of peace. The governor has a lot to offer. He has come not to make money but to serve. For the short period he stays in office, one can attest to that."

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