By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Despite the directives by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers to all it’s members nationwide to stop loading petroleum products from Lagos to the North following the closure of roads in Niger State to all articulated vehicles including fuel tankers, Niger State Government has said that it will not go back on the restriction order.
The state government had on Tuesday ordered the closure of all state owned roads in the state to be shut to heavy trucks passing through the state.
Last Wednesday, as early as 8:00am, some heavy duty vehicles drivers reacted to the road closure by abandoning their vehicles mid road at Paiko junction to block all other vehicular movements for hours to force the state government to end the road closure.
Chairman of the state’s Infrastructure, Project Monitoring and Implementation Committee, Ibrahim Balarabe who is also the Chief of Staff to governor Abubakar Sani Bello, said at a media briefing that the directives by the tanker drivers’ union and the threats by drivers of heavy duty vehicles would not deter it or compel it to rescind it’s decision.
He however assured that the state government’s position on the road closure would be reviewed as events concerning the closure unfolds.
The Chairman explained that the decision to close all state owned roads was done within the ambit of law just as he stressed that the state government had made adequate consultations and sensitized relevant stakeholders including all road transport organizations for two weeks before the order to close the affected roads was effected.
Ibrahim Balarabe while reaffirming the position of the state on the issue, stressed that the state government will therefore not relent on it oars to ensure that the state owned roads were not accessed by articulated vehicles.
He told all drivers of heavy trucks who usually traverse through the state to use all the federal roads that traverse through the state.
He said the closure of the affected roads was to fast track the reconstruction of the Minna – Bida road whose construction has been going on at rather too slow pace. He added that at the end of the construction of the project standard weigh – bridges would be erected to ensure that the movements of articulated vehicles on the state owned roads were properly regulated to avoid overweight heavy duty vehicles from plying the roads.
He pleaded with the federal government to rise up to the challenge and do the needful by repairing some of the federal roads in the state.
Niger state has the longest stretches of federal roads across the state covering a total distance of over 2,000 kilometres. However almost all of them are in terrible state of disrepair.
“For now, there is no going back on the state government’s decision to the ban all articulated trucks from plying the state – owned roads. We still stand on our position and will not relent on that. Our roads still remain closed to articulated trucks” he thundered.