Jos — For seven years, the construction of Garba Daho, Gangare and Yandoya road in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State has remained abandoned. One morning in 2014, the contractors had simply packed up their machines and left the community. Seven years later, they have not returned and residents of Garba Daho say all their efforts in getting government's attention to recommit to the projects have been futile.
The construction of the 3km road was first awarded in early 2014 during the administration of former Governor Jonah David Jang to WAKEMA Construction Company. However, after grading the road and the partial construction of certain drainages, it was alleged that the contractors had stopped work due to the inability of the then government to pay them certain amount of money to continue the work.
Though it is uncertain how much was initially budgeted for the project, the community leader of Garba Daho, Muhammad Sagir Umar told Daily Trust that the contractor had informed them that it was owing the state government over N900 million and had asked the government to release N450 million to continue with the work, a request that was not met as at the time they abandoned site.
Even after several efforts have been made by residents and community leaders to get the present government to once again kick-start the project, not much has been achieved. Umar said the community had set up a committee in 2016 which met with the then Secretary to the State Government, Rufus Bature, on the matter, adding that the then SSG had promised them that the government would look into their plight and ensure that the work was done but this has not come to fruition.
He said: "When we went to see the governor, we were asked to present our problems to the then SSG and he assured us that government would do the work but there wasn't enough resources at government's disposal at that time."
Another view of the dusty road
"In the same 2016," he said, "we lodged the same complaint to the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Peter Azi, who is a member of the constituency. He also promised that the road would be included in the next budget but the following year when the work was not done, we went to him again but nothing positive came out up to the time he left office."
The community leader said realising that their efforts were not successful, they had gone to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to beg for the completion of the road, but such move never yielded the needed result. "We booked an appointment with the Commissioner for Works whom we believed had some influence but it has been the same old story," he said.
Residents say due to years of neglect, the edges of the graded road and the gutter areas are now degrading, with erosion setting in due to high flow of water during the rainy season.
Yusuf Tijjani, a resident of the area, while lamenting on the condition of the road said: "Every year, particularly during the rainy season, we spend a lot of money to repair the road. The rain usually damages the road and my house happens to be by the roadside so I spend a lot of money to fix it when it is destroyed.
His point was buttressed by the community leader who said to make it motorable, they often contribute money to fix those areas already damaged by the rain and erosion. "Because without such efforts, vehicles and tricycles would not be able to ply the road. That is the only alternative we have at the moment," he said.
Sagir Umar however noted that during the dry season, residents also face a new challenge with the red dust which invades their biological system and their homes. Vehicular movements on the untarred road often raise red dust with particles many say have caused mild to severe respiratory diseases. "It has not been easy," said Tijani who explained that abandoning the project has been detrimental to the community's progress.
"The dust we inhale during the dry season is very harmful. Everywhere in the house is red - under the bed and inside the rooms. The situation is dangerous and if nothing is done, it will continue to pose danger to our lives," he said.
Motorcyclists plying the dusty road
"Aside other inconveniences, cars raise dust during the dry season which has been causing various illnesses especially asthma among the residents," said the community leader.
He further stated that from their records, 14 residents, eight of them kids, have been diagnose with asthma and have been placed on drugs due to the prolonged dust inhalation. "It is very unfortunate and if nothing is done, more people will be affected because the problem is from the rising dust, " he added.
Our correspondent reports that apart from the health implications, the rising dust leaves a red residue on almost every aspect of the people's lives. Bedrooms, kitchen and laundry often turn up with red stains from the sand and residents say, this also affect food items, kitchen utensils and the clothes they wear. "We cannot keep our clothes inside our rooms, even the ones packed in the bags or boxes are stained. The ceilings, walls and our kitchen utensils are always covered in red sand. The situation has been injurious and inimical to us as a community," he said.
Nonetheless, it seems the plight of the people may not be eagerly addressed in the immediate future as the Plateau State government indicated that the faith of the project lies with whether or not the state government gets the available resources it needs to complete the project and others in the state.
Responding on the inability of his administration to complete the projects, Governor Simon Bako Lalong, in a recent media chat, said his government was aware of the road and promised to fix it when resources are available. "We have lots of work to complete. That is not the only work we have. We have done lots of road construction in Jos North. What we often do when we get money is to share it among the different works so that all communities can benefit."
For this particular road, Lalong said, his administration has the intention of completing it and assured that all uncompleted works will be done before the end of his tenure.