By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Oct. 2, 2020 Briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of roads in his state, Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger on Friday bemoaned the deplorable conditions of roads in the state, saying that motorists and commuters plying the roads are “going through hell”.
The governor, who spoke to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with the president at the State House, Abuja, said he also briefed the president on the damage caused by flood in 22 out of the 25 Local Government Areas of the state.
Bello, who said the president sympathized with the inhabitants and those passing through the state, sought for urgent presidential intervention in the rehabilitation of failed roads in the state.
“I paid a visit to Mr. President to extend my greetings and wishes for the Independence Anniversary and I also seized the opportunity to discuss some issues that affect Niger State especially the state of roads.
“At the moment, we are facing difficult times because the rains are quite heavy, most sections of the roads have failed completely and there is need to have some quick intervention to ease the difficulties being experienced by motorists in highways.
“So I took time to brief Mr. President on what is happening and what I think can be done in the interim to address some of these issues.
“You will recall that about two weeks ago, we had a meeting chaired by the Chief of Staff with the Minister of Works, the GMD of the NNPC, the Director-General of Department of State Service and the Inspector General of Police with regard to the closure of Minna-Bida road.
“We were forced to close Mina-Bida road because the contractor on site had complained that the work in progress was very slow as a result of heavy movement of trucks on that road. As you are aware that road was built for light vehicles, so we were forced to shut down Minna-Bida road.
“Eventually, we had to open it so that we don’t create hardship to other parts of the country, especially the Northern states.
“But at the moment, we have two failed sections of the Minna-Bida road and one failed section of Minna-Tekna road which has brought about the complete blockage of that road.
The governor stressed the need to provide alternative routes between South West and Northern parts of the states, saying attention should be given to the Jebba-Mokwa-Kagara-Tegna-Pandogri-Kaduna road.
He said: “I hope attention should be given to that road so that we divert most of the trailers to that road. There is also an alternative route which is the Mokwa-Bida-Lapai-Lambata road. That will also provide alternative to Minna-Bida road.
“So overall, that has been the main point of our discussion.’’
Bello, who also updated the president on the flood situation in Niger, said over 150 communities had been submerged by water while the popular Sunti Sugar Farm has also been destroyed by the flood.
“We touched on flood briefly. I believe in the next few weeks, we may have some reliefs when it comes to flood.
“At the moment, we have over 150 communities under water in Niger State, thousands of hectares of land have been washed away, major investments like the Sunti sugar is completely under water.
“They have lost over 2,500 hacters of Sugar Cane Plantation. And vast majority of the facility itself is under water. It is unfortunate this has happened, but I pray we will be able to get some quick intervention from the Federal Government so that we can support our local farmers that have lost their livelihood due to floods.”
On the president’s response, the governor said: “The President believes more in action, he doesn’t talk too much, I think from his countenance I can say that he felt bad especially for Niger State. We are shouldering all the weight, every cargo from South West passes through Minna specifically.
“I think he has an idea, he probably will not know everything but he has an idea what we are going through at moment. At the moment, we are going through hell in Niger State. So I believe something will be done soon.’’