Nigeria: Kano Residents Groan Under Burden of Abandoned Road Projects

9 August 2020

Kano — The several uncompleted (and some abandoned) roads in Kano State have left residents and visitors of the commercial centre of Nigeria faced with many difficulties.

During the dry season, thick dust that characterised the roads adversely affects their health, particularly the asthmatic patients; while during the raining season, the roads become unmotorable with flooding and several potholes.

To businesses on these roads or those that are linked by these roads, the daily sales they make are significantly reducing as most motorists usually take alternative routes to avert the potholes and dust that greet them whenever they ply these roads the same way buyers of goods look for alternative markets.

Residents of these affected areas noted that most of these projects were initiated by previous administrations but were later abandoned by their successors.

Inuwa Dutse road of Karkasara in the metropolis, which was awarded for resurfacing by the administration of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (2011-2015), has been abandoned for years, leaving residents and passers-by covered in dust.

It is a road that links communities of Darmanawa, Karkasara (behind Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, AKTH), Sallari and Court road.

The road, according to a shop owner in the area, has been like that for long with no hope in sight on when its work will resume.

Sale Abdullahi, who sells soft drinks in his shop along the road, said he cannot remember exactly when the road construction started before it was abandoned subsequently.

"Because of the critical condition of this road, our sales have significantly reduced as nobody wants to follow the road again", he lamented.

He said, "Sometimes, you'll buy drinks, and after like two, three days people begin to complain that you may be selling expired products due to the dust that cover the products within that short period.

"So many people would rather go to other places to buy.

"About eight months ago work resumed on the road. We were very happy then that at least it will ease our pain, but without reaching any milestone, they packed their equipment and left the site.

"It has affected us seriously. I used to make sales of about N30,000 daily before, but now, we only get what to eat here due to customers' drought caused by the road condition."

Daily Trust on Sunday observed that in most parts of the road, motorists share one lane to avoid potholes. This, according to Abdullahi, has increased the number of accidents recorded in the area.

Double tragedy for residents

In virtually all these roads, the situation becomes a double-edged dagger with each leaving residents and passers-by groaning.

To Abdullahi of Karkasara, the only time they get some relief from the dust is when it rains.

"And when the rain comes, we are faced with another tragedy of potholes and water flooding the road since the drainage has not dug. So in any way, it's a double tragedy for us."

20 shops vacated due to road condition

At Yahaya Gusau, the road linking Sharada community, one of the biggest industrial hubs of the city, to Gadon Kaya, it was gathered that about 20 shops in a house have been vacated because of the road condition.

The road is one of the 5km road project awarded by Kwankwaso for each of the 44 local government areas in the state at the beginning of his second term as governor in 2011.

Confirming the situation, Muhammad Baba, who sells motorcycle spare parts along the road said, "You see that house (pointing at a storey-building in the area), 20 shops were rented earlier, but none of them is now occupied because of the road's critical condition.

"If you display your goods, dust will cover them and you know what that means; nobody will buy.

"This road has been under construction for over seven years, though work has partially resumed this week.

"When it rains, nobody follows this road because it's not motorable, we only open in such situation and gist, but nobody will come, talk less of buying our goods."

Most shops built around these roads that are supposed to be rented as a business entity are mostly vacant, with the little occupied complaining of low sales, it was gathered.

"Here in Yahaya Gusau road, for instance, the road has almost reached its completion stage before it was subsequently abandoned. They were to lay asphalt to complete it", said Baba.

He added that "Now that they have decided to resume work, they will have to start all over as water has washed away all they have done before, including dredging or even building new drainages.

"You can see how it's incurring additional expenses to the government. A work that could be completed at the rate of N70 for instance could gulp N100 or even N150".

Residents said Yahaya Gusau road is very important because it also links Dandinshe communities with other parts of the city. The area, located in Dala local government is said to be the second-largest political ward in the country due to its population.

Despite this potential political advantage, residents of the area have been groaning of successive neglect by various administrations.

Another resident of the area said the road condition has affected their life negatively.

"Many pregnant women who need to be taken to hospitals have delivered on their way due to the terrible potholes on the road", said Malam Balarabe Shehu, a resident of Dandinshe area.

He added, "Anyone living in this area could bear me witness that even the price we are charged by commercial vehicles is usually higher when compared with that of other places.

"Their justification is that our road is terrible and we don't have any alternative route to use. Dandinshe is one of the most densely populated areas in Kano; yet, the government neglected us and only check back when campaign time comes.

"All politicians use this road as their tool of a political campaign, once they are voted, the rest is history", Shehu added.

On his part, another resident of the area who doesn't want his name mentioned attributed their plight to political reasons, arguing that the present administration deliberately abandoned the work because it was initiated by its predecessor.

"Before the 2019 election, work resumed in the area, but, one fateful day the state governor visited the area and was booed. And that is the end of the story," he added.

Abba Anwar, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, denied this allegation, saying nothing of such happened.

Previous state of roads better than what 'construction' caused

New road in Sabon Gari area of Fagge LGA is one of the most populous roads in Kano, mostly because it houses the park for luxurious buses plying the South East and South West of the country.

A resident and shop owner in the area, Mrs. Edna Ibe, told Daily Trust that the road was scraped and subsequently abandoned over seven years ago.

"A few days ago a cripple man fell inside this dirty water (pointing at a wide hole filled with dirty water on the road), the sight was terrible, and I could not help but cry. Every day, you see car owners cursing after damaging their vehicles while trying to navigate the terrible road," she added, appealing to the government to come and complete the road.

Madam Joy Iriakany, a food seller on the road, said the attempted repair of the road had even further destroyed the road. "The road was better before they even attempted to fix it. Kwankwaso told us that he wants to make it better but he did not. When Ganduje entered, he also promised to fix the road but nothing. During the election, they promised us that they will fix it, but you can see for yourself the state of the road," she said.

"When it rains, even pedestrians cannot access the road not to talk of car owners. This is affecting our business," Madam Iriakany lamented.

Like residents of Yahaya Gusau road, most of the residents and business owners on New Road said they preferred the status of the road before the repair work commenced.

The problem of continuity in leadership is what affects most other abandoned roads in Kano, residents said. The Dakata-Bela road in Ungogo local government, awarded at the tail end of the administration of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau (2003-2011) has suffered similar neglect as the work only stopped at Kwanar Inusawa. Rimin Kebe residents, also in Ungogo are suffering a similar problem.

Residents of Sheikh Mahmud Salga road along Goron Dutse and Jakara road have also been calling on the government to conclude the work started and make the road motorable again. The road's importance to Kano's commercial activities was accentuated by it serving as the link to Kurmi market (an over 500-year old market, known for being the home of traditional attires and artefacts).

Some of the market people told Daily Trust on Saturday that due to the bad status of the road, they now get just 1/10 of visitors that normally access the market, especially from Sokoto and Zamfara states.

'Governance should be about continuity'

On his part, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau told Daily Trust through his spokesman, Sule Yau Sule that the Dakata-Bela road was not completed during his administration because "in government, you cannot finish all you start to do. Projects are awarded based on expectation on the flow of funds and hardly can you get all you expect to get by the end of the year. That brings about slowing down some of the projects."

He said projects normally suffer when the government is not able to get its expected flow of funds, adding that the impression that the contractors had been fully mobilised was a wrong one.

"You don't even have the (full) money on ground to pay", he said, adding that the contractors were mostly paid based on the level of the job completed.

Efforts to get an official position from Senator Kwankwaso were not successful as at the time of filing this report. Comrade Aminu Abdussalam Gwarzo, who issued a statement on his behalf the last time he addressed the public, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to him on the matter.

However, a stalwart of the Kwankwasiyya Movement, Sunusi Surajo Kwankwaso said if governance was all about continuity, the present administration has no excuse to abandon the projects.

"It's a known fact that no contractor will start any work without receiving a certain percentage of the amount, so they should just explain why they are being selective on the kind of projects to complete", Sunusi Kwankwaso, who was the Special Assistant (Government House) during Senator Kwankwaso's administration added.

'Work is ongoing, we will not stop'

In his reaction, the Permanent Secretary of the state's Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Ahmed Abba Salisu, said it is not true that the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje-led administration has abandoned projects it inherited.

The Permanent Secretary said many projects inherited by the administration from the previous administrations had been completed, citing examples with Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu Specialist Hospital and the over 2km Alhassan Dantata bridge, among others.

Salisu said as with everything in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic grounded a lot of the ongoing projects and that it was only until recently that contractors were now returning to their project sites. He noted that one of such roads where work has since resumed is the Yahaya Gusau road.

He said the administration has directed that all the 5km road projects awarded to each local government in the state by the previous administration that was hitherto being handled by the Kano State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KNUPDA) should be returned to the ministry.

This, he said, was to ensure the appraisal of the projects and see to the completion of those yet to be completed. New road in Sabongari and Sheikh Mahmud Salga road are some of these roads.

He appealed to residents to continue to exercise patience with the government, adding that the administration has the political will to complete all outstanding projects and do more for the state.

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