The Niger state government has called on the Federal Government to urgently revisit all dilapidated federal roads across the State, especially the Agaie, Katcha Baro road whose repair contract was re-awarded in 2015.
Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, made the call after a tour of federal roads across the state.
He said that “the over 30km road which cost the Federal Government about N17.5 billion was expected to be completed by January 16, 2016 as the contract was awarded in January, 2015.
According to Vatsa “The road has been abandoned and neglected; we want the Federal Government to visit Niger state because presently, no federal road is motorable.
“We cannot allow further delay in putting this facility (Baro port) into use.
“The Government’s idea is to open up the economy of the north through the Port.”
The road, if completed, will be the gateway from Baro Inland Port and would open the economy of the north to other parts of the country.
The 17.5 billion Naira the Commissioner referred to was part of the sum of 470 billion Naira approved in December, 2014 by the Federal Executive Council, for different contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of 17 roads and bridges across the country.
The Indian firm handling the contract has, however, said that the government should be blamed for the halt in the construction, adding that if it was mobilised upfront with 30 percent, the project would have gone beyond 50 percent completion.
The site engineer of the construction company, GR Building and Construction Nigeria Ltd, Mohammed Kamil, while lamenting the paucity of funds, said “ever since we came to site, we have not been able to get the 30 percent mobilisation fee. If they (FG) had paid us up to 30 percent, we would have constructed bridges and gone very far with work.
“Funding is our major problem, we have been here since last year, what they gave us is nothing to write home about. When we get money, we will finish the job. Complete mobilisation fee has not been made”.
He also lamented the deplorable state of the roads saying that “our trucks find it difficult now to bring construction rocks from our quarry sites before Lambata along the Suleja-Minna road because there are no good roads in Niger state anymore and there are no rocks nearby.”
The traditional head and Sheshi of Katcha, Alhaji Baba Adamu Umaru, also called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, hasten the construction of Agaie-Katcha-Baro road because of its economic importance.
“We are begging the Federal Government, we are suffering.
“Bring this road back alive. I remember during the time of Nigeria’s founding fathers, produce like cotton, groundnut and cattle skin were transported from Kano to Baro port and thereby exported overseas and we enjoyed this road.
“The Federal Government needs to act fast because the road has become a death trap.
“The nearest hospital to us is in Agaie and we have lost so many persons who were sick because before they were rushed to the hospital they died. To transport pregnant women who are about to deliver is very devastating because of the bad road”.