Residents and motorists plying the Lafia-Shendam Road connecting Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Bauchi states have called on the Federal Government to rehabilitate the road to reduce associated hardship and deaths.
Our correspondent who visited the road observed that some parts had become death traps as robbers take advantage of its dilapidated condition to attack motorists almost on a daily basis.
The road which links three states from the southern axis of Nasarawa State was constructed by the Federal Government in 1976. Since then, no rehabilitation and maintenance have been carried out on it.
The journey between Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, and Shendam, Plateau State, which would have taken about an hour, now takes four hours due to the road’s deplorable condition. The about 60km road is now characterised by deep potholes and some areas completely washed away.
Residents and motorists along the road who are predominantly farmers lamented that they had been subjected to untold hardship over the years due to a lack of maintenance and total neglect of the road by the Federal Government.
A resident of Akurba community in the area, Shehu Musa, who spoke with our correspondent on the deplorable condition of the road, narrated how a woman and her son lost their lives in a motor accident on the road while they were heading for their village.
She said, “This road has caused the death of many innocent Nigerians. The portholes on the road are many and that is why accidents occur on it. Two months ago, a woman who lives in the Bakin Rijiya community with her 15-year-old son were involved in a motor crash on their way to their village. It was a head-on collision with another vehicle. The boy died on the spot but his mother died after a few days in a hospital.’’
Residents of the area have also called for the presence of security agencies to always be on patrol on the Lafia-Shendam road to check activities of bandits on the route. They noted that if the government could ensure that there was a checkpoint after every three kilometres of the road, activities of the criminals terrorising motorists, passengers and residents would be curbed.
A peasant farmer in Mai-Akuya community in the area, Ibrahim Abubakar, decried lack of security agents’ presence on the Road which he attributed to the reason bandits were harassing residents and motorists on the axis.
She said, “I am a peasant farmer and after harvest, I transport my farm produce to the Asakio market to sell and make profit. But with the activities of criminals who block the road almost on a daily basis, I am now scared to ply the road because I don’t want to be kidnapped or killed. There are no police or military checkpoints from Lafia to Sabon-gida Bakin Kogi, which is the boundary between Nasarawa and Plateau states. The bandits attack and kidnap our people and nothing is being done about it.’’
A resident of Adogi community in the area, Haliru Ibrahim, was seen fetching sand from a nearby river in the community with his wheelbarrow to fill the bad spots on the road. He told our correspondent that he was moved to sand-fill the road because of the rate of accidents that had claimed the lives of some people who plied the road.
Ibrahim stated, “The reason I am filling some of the bad spots with sand is because it has claimed lives of some people who travel from Lafia to Shendam in Plateau State. The road is bad. Nobody asked me to do this. I have been doing this for about five years. I bought the wheelbarrow I use for the work.’’
A commercial driver, Mallam Danladi Ibrahim, who has been plying the road for over 20 years, narrated his experience on the road to Saturday PUNCH.
Ibrahim said, “As a commercial driver, I have been plying the Lafia-Shendam Road for over 20 years. I must say that it has been difficult for me these years because of the state of the road and the insecurity that we are experiencing as drivers. But I don’t have a choice because I have to work to take care of my family members. The activities of robbers and kidnappers are worrisome. Almost every Monday, they block the road to rob businessmen and women going to Asakio market to buy goods. We are going through a difficult situation on this road.’’
Another commercial driver, Biliya Muhammed, stated how he was stopped alongside his passengers on the road by robbers who he said dispossessed them of their valuables.
“I once plied the road with some passengers from Lafia to Shendam when some robbers robbed us of money and phones. We have been going through several challenges on the road. The government should help us repair the road and direct security agents to always patrol it.’’
In his comment, a traditional ruler in the area, Emir of Adogi, Alhaji Ladan Omaku, said the about 60 kilometer Lafia-Shendam Road had caused the death of many.
He also lamented the absence of the police and other security agencies on the road which he said was responsible for the increased insecurity on the axis.
Omaku stated, “This road has been like this for many years and we have been appealing to the government to come to our aid because of the challenges we face. Some parts of the road are bad and criminals use the opportunity to rob people.
“Recently, heavily armed men blocked the road and robbed passengers going to the popular Asakio market. I call on the federal and state governments to consider that this road is important to us and help us repair it as it links many communities in the state and also serves as a link road to Plateau, Taraba and Bauchi states. Bandits are taking advantage of the bad road to attack our people and rob them of their belongings. The government needs to help us out of this situation.’’
A top government official at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter said the ministry had been doing its best to reduce accidents on the road.
When our correspondent spoke with the engineer in charge of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency in the state, Hafsat Muhammed, she said that the agency carried out a project between March and May this year and was able to patch some dangerous spots on the road.
Muhammed said, “We have done a lot on that road because the condition you met it is not how it was before. As of January this year, the road was in a state of total disrepair but we had a project there from March to May and we were able to patch and overlay some parts of the road.’’
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who was in the state to inspect some of the ongoing Federal Government projects, said the government was aware of the challenges being faced by users of the road.
He said, “The Nasarawa State Governor applied that he should be allowed to reconstruct and dualise some parts of the road and we have accepted that he can work on the road. The Lafia-Shendam Road has been in need of attention since the 1990s before we came to government. We didn’t promise Nigerians to do everything, we only promised to do our best and that is what we have been doing.’’