By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Citizens and motoring public across Niger State woke up Monday morning to see massive protesters and road blockades on all entry points into Niger state as protesters blocked major roads to stop vehicular movements.
Niger state has been on a locked down as a result of collapsed and failed roads, culverts and bridges across the state.
Monday’s protest organized by a coalition of youths groups including the National Youth Council of Nigeria, the Youth League Movement and the Niger Youths Speak among others got the sympathies of youth, members of road transport workers and owners and other members of the general public.
A recent statistics by the leadership of the National Youth Council of Nigeria suggests that an average of seventy seven lives are lost from road carnage across the state on monthly basis just as the state of the bad roads have been affecting commercial and business activities negatively as commuters spend endless hours on transit.
Last week, four senior officials of the state’s Ministry of Lands and Housing were crushed to death by a trailer along Batati – Mokwa road in southern parts of the state as the driver of the small car they were travelling in was hit by the trailer when he attempted to dodge potholes on the road.
Haulage trucks bearing perishables vegetables and other commodities coming into the state are wasted daily on transit as the vehicles either get caught up in gridlock for days or get spoiled and damaged on the road as a result of the bad state of the roads.
Demonstrators on Monday blocked and forbade all vehicular movements on the road from Maje – Suleja road, Lambata – Agaie to Lapai axis, Minna to Bida axis, Tegina – Kagara road to press home their grievances against the deplorable state of both state and federal government owned roads.
As early as 6:30 in the morning of Monday, the organizers of the mass protest had moved on the roads and erected barricades to stop vehicular traffic to press home their points on both the Niger and federal governments to commence work on the roads immediately.
In all the points, the protesters insisted they would not leave the roads until governments’ officials from both the Niger and federal government come to the scene to hear their grouse.
Along the Minna to Bida axis, the protesters blocked the road at Kpakungu axis and insisted that governor Abubakar Sani Bello must come to the scene to hear their complaints.
Students of the Federal University of Technology, Minna and the state owned Justice Fati Lami College of Arts and Islamic Studies located along the Minna to Bida road as well as workers of the National Examination Council, (NECO) and other establishments located along the Minna to Bida axis were caught up in the road blockade and prevented from accessing the road by the protesters.
The presence of law enforcement agents including the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corp and were helpless as the protesters stood their grounds on the road and stopped all forms of movements including pedestrians.
Though the mass action by the protesters at all the points were peaceful at the time of filling this report, the situation was tense as gridlock on roads was so massive and commotion – like a market square.
But a senior government official in the state, Abdull Berqy Ebbo, in a road programme monitored by our correspondent, blamed the federal government for refusing to do anything on the failed roads despite several appeals and visits to the presidency on the terrible state of roads.
The worsening states of roads across Niger state have been grave cause for concerns and death to many.
The Suleja to Minna road, a distance covering about 110 kilometers have been awarded to no fewer than three different contractors by the present central government but no appreciable work have been done by all of them in all, a development which speaks volume about corruption.
The Minna to Bida road which is under the purview of the Niger state government has remained a major drain pipe as the state government claims it had repaired the road several times but reasonable work was ever done on the road.