250 killed, 731 injured in Abuja-Lokoja road in four years

Posted by News Express | 4 December 2020 | 934 times

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The ever-busy Abuja-Lokoja highway is in a deplorable state.

The road had claimed the lives of 250 people while 731 others were injured within 4 years, a tally by this newspaper revealed.

Those plying the road attributed the casualties to the bad state of the road and called on the federal government to act fast.

When one of our correspondents travelled on the road from Abuja to Banda, one kilometre away from Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, it was observed that it has been taken over by deep potholes.

It is always lamentation for people who patronize the 200-kilometre road that links Abuja and Lokoja, which also serves as the gateway to the southern part of the country from the North.

The reconstruction of the highway which was divided into three sections was awarded in 2006 to different construction companies – Dantata & Sawoe Limited (from Zuba to Pai junction), RCC (Pai junction to Abaji) and Bulletin Construction Company (Abaji to Koton-Karfe).

Checks revealed that most of the potholes are on the second lane of the highway, which starts from Pai junction, near Abuja to Sabon-Gari, Dabi, Bako, Chikara, Aseni, Idu, Ahoko, Akpogu, Orehi, Gegu, Koton-Karfe, Senseyi, Onzo, down to Banda village.

Our findings showed that some motorists plying the road, especially at night, mostly crash into some of the potholes and veer into the bush. Sometimes they also experience tyre burst.

Our reporter further gathered that some of the villages located along the highway are also exposed to various kinds of danger due to frequent accidents.

“We are tired of recovering corpses from the bush whenever there is an accident,” said Musa Ali, a resident of Onzo village.

“We are the first callers whenever there is an accident near our village because it takes time for those saddled with the responsibility to arrive,” he said.

Another resident said the number of people that died on the highway is very high.

“Whatever you have is just an approximation because some of the accidents that occurred have not been reported.

“This is probably the busiest road in Nigeria because everybody travelling by road to the east, south and west from all the three geo-political zones of the northern part of the country must pass through this road.

“We have all sorts of vehicles conveying goods and people through this road. Sadly, the road is taking this long to be completed despite promises and successive administrations,” he said.

Jacob Dan Amarya, a teacher in Sabon-Gari, said they had buried many victims of accidents.

“Sometimes when families of those that died in accidents come, they simply ask us to support them bury their loved ones in our cemeteries because they can’t afford to take them back home.

“Most of the accidents on this road are caused by human error. Also, the I-don’t-care attitude of those in the position of power is contributing to the problem. This road should have been completed long ago…It is not more than 200 kilometres.

“Maybe the federal government is not worried because those in power don’t travel by road. They travel by air together with their families.

“We have been told severally that the government is not giving the contractors enough money, maybe that is why the contractors are not also serious because nobody will accuse them of not working hard,” he said.

Some motorists who spoke to our reporter expressed frustration over the deplorable state of the road.

Mr Sylvester Okafor, who plies the road from Enugu, said he had lost three tyres along the road after his vehicle mistakenly hit a pothole, adding that the situation is worrisome.

“It is unbelievable that the Abuja-Lokoja road dualization which was awarded during the (ex-president Olusegun) Obasanjo administration has not been completed. It is quite unfortunate that even some sections that were completed have also gone bad completely,” he said.

He said armed robbers sometimes take advantage of the bad portions of the road to attack motorists.

“I can recall that one night when I was coming from Enugu, shortly after Koton-Karfe, one of my tyres burst after I ran into a pothole, and before I realised what was happening, some armed robbers emerged from the bush and robbed my passengers,” he said.

Another motorist, Ajakaiye Abraham, who plies the road from Lokoja to Zuba, said the deplorable state of the road is a serious embarrassment.

According to him, kidnappers sometimes take advantage of the potholes on the highway to attack vehicles and take passengers into the bush.

He said the slow pace of work on the Murtala Muhammad Bridge along the road would cause serious hardship to people who would be travelling home for the forthcoming festive season.

He said asphalt on one of the lanes of the bridge had been removed by the construction firm that was handling the project, adding that work on the bridge has been slow.

“I don’t know if you can recall those three months ago, two trailers collided on the Murtala Muhammad Bridge, which caused roadblock and forced some travellers to remain in the holdup for days before the obstruction was cleared,” he said.

Since the contract for the dualisation of the Abuja-Lokoja road was awarded in 2006, the federal government has budgeted N239.6 billion for the project.

There was an upward review in the budgetary allocation for the project in 2011 as N116b was budgeted following the submission of the committee set up by the Federal Government to unravel the delay in the project execution.

In 2007, N7.5b was budgeted, while N8b and N11.1b were budgeted in 2009 and 2010, respectively. N65 billion was budgeted in 2012, while it was N3b in 2014.   The federal government budgeted N7.12b for the road in 2017, N7.661b in 2018 and N3b in 2019.

When contacted on Saturday, the Director Highways, North Central Zone, Ministry of Works and Housing, Engr. Kunle Yusuf told Daily Trust on Sunday that the Abuja-Lokoja road project would be concluded by next year ending.

He said lack of funds delayed the project but the contractors are back on sites.

The director, who recently undertook a tour of the roads in the North Central zone, including the Abuja-Lokoja road, said he could not tell offhand what had been expended on the Abuja-Lokoja road so far because “today (Saturday) is not a working day.”

According to him, “the project is now going on well. One section is completed. Another section is 95 per cent. The contractors handling the third and fourth sections are back on sites…By the end of next year, we should be able to complete the road.” (Daily Trust)

Source: News Express

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