By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
The Minna to Bida Highway in Niger State, a road distance of 88 kilometres has been closed to all heavy duty vehicles as from midnight on Tuesday.
The state government said the closure was a stop gap measure to the continuous wear and tear of the road. The road has been in worsening state for upward of five years.
The road is the only access road from Minna, the state capital to the southern parts of Niger state and a gateway to south of Nigeria.
The road was constructed in the late eighties and has since outlived it’s life span and become death traps at several points.
The state government through the Chairman of the state’s Infrastructures Monitoring Committee, Ibrahim Balarabe said in a statement that the Minna to Bida road, a state – owned road is closed to all articulated vehicles to allow for speedy reconstruction of the road.
The official closure of the road began at midnight on Tuesday and was effected with the erection of a barricade to stop heavy trucks from accessing the road from Bida axis.
The closure of the road preceded weeks forewarning where the government announced it was going to close all it’s roads to articulated vehicles.
The Minna – Bida road has continually been exposed to frequent wear and tear with several kilometres stretches of the road in complete state of disrepair.
The state government has incurred criticism, abuse and condemnation from road users, road transport owners and associations, civil society groups and traditional institutions even as the road has caused untold hardship to commuters, road crashes, death, destruction and economic wastages.
Other roads closed by the state government include the Lapai – Paiko road, Chanchaga Bridge to Maikunkele, Muye – Lapai road and Zungeru – Wushishi roads.
The state government warned that any articulated vehicle caught on any of the closed roads, the driver of such vehicle and the vehicle would face the full wrath of the law.
The state government however enjoined citizens to show understanding over the decision to close the affected roads. It said that it was not unmindful of the inconveniences the restriction will cause, but nonetheless pleaded that the closure was is in the over all interest of the state and it’s citizens.
Considering the current development, the initial 18 dry months time frame for completion of the Minna-Bida Road is no longer feasible due to some challenges, as such the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure will adopt measures to enable the contractors complete the project on a good time .
Feelers closed to the seat of power in the state told our correspondent that by closing the affected roads, the state government hopes to draw the attention of the federal government to the terrible state of the roads in state.