Nigeria: Rubokya - a Kuje Community Groans Over Lack of Bridge Across River

12 December 2018

Residents wade through the river at Robokya village, Kuje Area Council.

A 52-year-old man, Daniel Musa, was helpless as he struggled with his motorcycle to cross the river at Rubokya village without anybody around to assist him.

Musa, a native of Rubokya community in Kwaku ward of Kuje area council of the FCT, was on his way to Kwaku market which holds on Sundays.

It took the intervention of this reporter who summoned courage, waded into the river and grabbed the rear of the motorcycle to assist in getting it through to the bank of the river to enable the rider continue his journey.

"This river is our major headache along this road because of lack of a bridge. This is how any motorcyclist that gets to the river bank will struggle to get across by lifting the motorcycle alone or with the help of any capable person to carry it across the river," Musa said.

He said the absence of a bridge across the river has become a nightmare to the villagers and other neighbouring communities that also have to cross the river to get to their farms or to Kwaku market.

He said though most of the inhabitants are peasant farmers who have to convey their farm produce to markets in Kwaku or Kuje, the absence of a bridge has been a major obstacle to their economic endeavours over the years.

According to him, the farmers always find it difficult to transport their crops, especially when the water is high, saying even pickup vans find it impossible to cross the river whenever the water level is high.

He said apart from the challenge of absence of a bridge, the road that links neighbouring Kwaku, Gawu, Gaye down to Sabo communities is in a dilapidated state.

"The only time that vehicles can manoeuvre their way across the river is around the end of December to January as by then, the water level is completely down and the river must have dried up," he said.

A farmer, Peter Sarki, also said that lack of bridge across the river is a major problem facing people of the community, noting that their plight worsens during the rainy season when they are completely cut off and unable to reach out to neighbouring villages.

He said the river always overflowed its banks when there was a downpour. He said majority of the locals cultivate plantain, guinea corn and yam but that transporting the produce to the market to sell and generate income has always been a major challenge.

He noted that absence of a bridge across the river not only causes untold hardship to the communities around, but that the farmers lose their crops as they rot away due to lack of access roads.

"I guess when you were coming you met some of our women carrying plantain on their shoulders. They are on their way to Kwaku market. And that is how our women suffer every market day as they have to carry loads of produce on their shoulders. They cross the river and trek three to four kilometers to Kwaku market," Sarki said.

He said many of the farmers' crops get spoilt at the farms due to lack of access road and bridge

across the river to convey them to the market.

"Even as I speak now, there are farmers, including me, that have large hectares of yam farm but we have to harvest and take them home pending when the river dries up by end of December to early January to get them to the market using pickup vans that will drive into the village to load, " he said.

He said the bridge, if constructed, will reduce the hardship faced by residents of the community and nearby villages, especially when travelling to Kuje town which, he noted, was a shortcut.

"In fact, from this village to Kuje town it is just about four kilometers, but the deplorable state of the road and absence of bridge across the river have always caused residents to suffer a lot before reaching Kuje," he lamented.

Sarki appealed to the authorities of Kuje area council under the leadership of Alhaji Abdullahi D. Galadima, to come to the aid of the villagers by liaising with the government to construct a bridge across the river.

An elder of the community, Mr. Ezekiel Danladi, also lamented over lack of health centre facility at the community.

He said patients have to travel to neighbouring Sabo village to seek for medical treatment and appealed to the council authorities to come to their aid by building a healthcare centre to reduce the hardship patients faced while seeking for treatment.

"During the rainy season, it is worst as the river overflows and people cannot go across, not to talk of the sick who want to go to Kwaku or Sabo villages to access healthcare facility," he said.

Meanwhile, residents of Gaye in the council have decried lack of health centre at the community.

The spokesman of the community, Danjuma Audu, who spoke with our reporter said lack of healthcare facility was one of the major challenges the people of the village have to contend with, lamenting that patients travel to neighbouring Kwaku village to seek for health care. He appealed to the council authorities to come to their aid by building a clinic for the community.

"In fact, even the clinic at neighbouring Gawu is nothing to write home about due to its dilapidated condition. Patients have to be taken on motorcycle to Kwaku village to access health care," he said.

Reacting, the chairman of the council, Alhaji Abdullahi D. Galadima, who spoke on whole with our reporter, said the council has set up a committee to go round the rural communities preparatory to addressing the challenges of infrastructure.

He said some communities that have already been captured in the council's budget last year were provided with boreholes, grading of some rural roads and construction of culverts across some streams.

"In fact, you know provision of infrastructure to all communities at the same time will be difficult due to financial challenges, but the council is already aware of the challenges of people of the communities you mentioned. We shall capture them in next year's budget God willing," he assured.

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