Motorists and other road users in Jos, the Plateau State capital, have been going through tough time as a result of abandoned road projects. But recently, the state government has taken steps to address this problem, a development that excites residents, writes GOLOK NANMWA
There was jubilation in some parts of Jos, the Plateau State capital, following the return of road contractors. It would be recalled that Governor Simon Lalong, last Tuesday, while receiving the report of the transition committee set up to xray the past administration, said with the submission of the report, governance has picked up in the state. He also assured the people that his administration is committed to providing dividends of democracy.
Our correspondent, who was at the secretariat junction, observed that few days after the submission of the report, contractors handling major projects have returned to site as their bulldozers and other construction equipment were seen working.
A citizen of Jos, Rondong Washpam, commended the governor for directing contractors back to site. He stressed that residents, especially car owners had suffered because of the bad roads in some parts of the state. According to him, “I drive a Honda and lately, I am always in my mechanic’s workshop repairing my shock absorber. I am glad that the contractors are back to site,” he added.
Some months ago, Jos was described as a ghost town because the city had lost its beauty and attractions. Major roads were un-passable as a result of construction works. But after the general elections, work stopped and motorists were subjected to hardship. Residents described the situation as ‘bad government policy and misplacement of priority’. The Jang administration left the city in a very bad shape with several uncompleted projects,” a motorist told our correspondent.
Although the number of uncompleted project are much, the one that is causing severe pains to residents is roads, particularly the one from the secretariat junction at Yakubu Gowon Way through Maraba Jamaa round-about. The project cuts across the city centre and is the longest and most popular street in Jos.
The project which was embarked upon at the tail end of the last administration began in June last year. In fairness, some observers are of the view that the major achievements of the eight-year tenure of Jonah are road projects as it opened up most parts of the city.
However, majority of the roads are uncompleted. Jang initiated five kilometers road project in each of the 17 local government areas. The projects began in the first two years of his first term, but some of them remained uncompleted till he left office.
A resident of Jos, Peter Biya, told our correspondent that the hardship encountered by motorists plying the roads in Jos is similar to what those in the rural areas are currently experiencing. Several rural dwellers go through awful experiences as a result of abandoned roads.
Another citizen, Suleman Bonzo, said “whenever it rains, the uncompleted roads become muddy and that also creates potholes. The abandoned roads have made a mess of traffic rules. Motorists just scramble for space on the narrow lane, thereby causing confusion. Some, willingly or unwillingly, go against traffic rules and this invariably leads to gridlock as traffic control officers find it difficult to make road users comply with traffic rules. Being helpless, they only standby and watch the drama as motorists out twist one another.”
Bonzo also lauded the governor for ordering contractors back to site, stressing that it would reduce the hardship citizens are currently facing. Also recently, Lalong had instructed PW Nigeria, the contracting firm handling major roads during the past administration, to return to site immediately.
The governor, who gave the order when he paid an unscheduled inspection visit to some ongoing projects in the state capital, said the contractor must resume work in order to reduce the difficulties faced by motorists.
Lalong inspected the fly-over bridge under construction at the secretariat junction where he was informed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Sunday Hyat, that the bridge is over 68 percent complete, while the road that stretches from Mararaban Jama’a to British-American Junction has reached 30 percent completion.
Hyat said the contractor suspended the project due to issues arising from outstanding payments from the previous administration. PW Nigeria, on the other hand, told the governor that even though they encountered financial difficulties, they have not abandoned site. The 133 metre overhead bridge is being constructed at the cost of N4.67 billion out of which over N2.5 billion had been paid to the contractor.
Lalong, who was accompanied on the visit by the Deputy Governor, Professor Sonny Tyoden, engaged the contractors handling various contracts at the state secretariat on the need to speed up work. He also inspected projects at the Plateau State House of Assembly, the High Court complex and the Joseph Gomwalk Secretariat.
It would be recalled that following complaints by citizens about the bad state of roads in the city, Lalong had issued a statement appealing to residents to be calm and bear the pain for a short while. The statement, signed by the Director of Press Affairs, Mr. Samuel Nanle, said “Governor Simon Lalong is calling on all citizens of Plateau State and particularly, residents of Jos/Bukuru metropolis to bear with government as efforts are being intensified to address the difficulties encountered driving round the city with the rains now in season.”
H also added that “in furtherance to the above and in order to kick-start his policy of sustainable environment and urban governance, the governor has enjoined all citizens to ensure sanitation in their neighbourhoods and the effective clearing of all drainage systems, so as to prevent flooding”.