Viewpoint

June 17, 2024

Still on the Apo-Karshi Road

FCT

By NICK DAZANG

TO Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s maverick politics, there appears to be a method and a redeeming feature. This method is framed by constancy and dogged exertion. These attributes had earned him, as Governor of Rivers State, the appellation of Mr. Projects.

Thanks to these attributes, and his prolific construction works, three major roads were recently commissioned in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to mark the first anniversary of the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For a government with a dismal record, these projects were a face-saving measure.

The roads, commissioned by the President, are the Arterial N20 and the Guzape Lot II. The Arterial Road and Bridge at Shagari Satellite Quarters, Kwali, was commissioned by the FCT Minister, Nyesom Nwike.

It is salutary and apt that these roads were named after Nigeria’s foremost writers and potter, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo and Ladi Kwali.

By their luminous works, all of them have elevated the country beyond measure and have put a sheen on it.

Additionally, the troika of Soyinka, Achebe and Clark-Bekederemo had collectively or individually intervened at critical junctures of the country’s storied journey to nationhood. They are pantheons at which our youths can worship and draw uplifting inspiration.

Even as we commend the construction of these exquisite projects, we must demand that the FCT Minister should not rest on his laurels. Instead, he should be spurred to fix  other roads in the City Center, Satellite Towns and Area Councils.

One of such roads that calls for the urgent attention of the Minister, and which this writer canvassed more than a year ago, is the Apo-Karshi Road. Permit me the indulgence of excerpting from the said article which was published on the watch of Mr. Wike’s predecessor:

“The notion of keeping domestic helps at bay, and in the outskirts, has proved dysfunctional and has rendered Abuja a monstrosity. In addition to the menial workers who reside in the outskirts of Kubwa, Gwagwalada and the Nyanya-Masaka axis, nearly all the civil servants reside in the outskirts and satellite towns. The high cost of rent, occasioned by the inundation of Abuja by Nigerians of all hues, has made the cost of accommodation so prohibitive that even Directing Staff of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, can hardly afford.

As a consequence of the mass exodus to the outskirts, vehicular traffic on the Airport, Kubwa and Abuja-Keffi Expressways are heavy. Thanks to the creation of extra lanes over the past 30 years, the traffic gridlocks appear to ease on the Airport and Kubwa expressways. Unfortunately, and in spite of the dualisation of the Abuja-Keffi Road under the watch of President Olusegun Obasanjo and the recently concluded expansion of the Mogadishu Barracks to Nyanya, traffic snafu on the Abuja-Keffi Road is a daily occurrence.

The gridlock worsens when there is an accident, which is frequent, especially involving trucks and articulated vehicles. When these accidents occur, commuters are stranded for hours on end or they even sleep in the traffic. Others find recourse in trekking. At other occasions when accidents occur during the working hours, commuters hardly make it to their offices or when they report at all, they do so late and exhausted. The adverse consequences of this gridlock to man-hours, appointments, productivity, health and wear and tear on the vehicles are better left to the imagination.

Thankfully, the Apo-Karshi Road, which has been under construction since 2011 promises to offer a huge relief to this daily gridlock and grind. As at March this year, this critically important alternative to the Abuja-Keffi Road was touted by the authorities to being at the verge of completion and commissioning. In fact, on an inspection visit of this road, which contract was awarded in parts to Messrs SCC NIGERIA and Messrs Kakatar CE Ltd, the Minister of State for the FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, was informed in early March this year that the road was nearing completion and that it would “soon” be ready for inauguration and use. 

A delighted Dr. Aliyu was said by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, to have remarked, correctly, that the road would offer a huge relief to commuters if completed. Regrettably, eight months after this visit, the road is yet to be completed, commissioned and put into use. While this writer makes a strong and urgent case for the completion of the Apo-Karshi Road, he must also observe that the said road will bring even greater relief and that it will further ease vehicular congestion if it is linked with the road that takes off from Orozo(adjoining Karshi) to Kodape/Auta Balaifi(on the Abuja-Keffi Road). This linkage will seamlessly allow those who are commuting to Keffi from Abuja to by-pass AYA, Nyanya, Mararaba, One-Man-Village, New Karu, New Nyanya and Masaka.

Also, to ease vehicular traffic ingressing the FCT through Abaji, the government should rehabilitate and secure the Abaji-Nasarawa Toto-Nasarawa-Keffi Road. By so doing, commuters who are travelling to Benue, Plateau and the North East states from Lokoja can by-pass the Abaji-Gwagwalada-Airport Road-City Center-AYA Road. If the will and commitment are summoned by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Musa Bello, the Apo-Karshi Road should be completed and put to use in a matter of two months. After all, we are in the dry season, which favours construction.

Besides, the contractors had in March admitted that funds had been released to them. Additionally, the FCT Minister has been a stickler for restoring Abuja’s Masterplan. He has also been acclaimed for his frugality, integrity and decency. But what are the worth of these uplifting virtues if they cannot be deployed to complete the Apo-Karshi Road thereby ending the suffering and misery of millions of Nigerians put in his care? He should please rise to the occasion and bequeath a legacy of compassion and bringing development to our beloved Federa Capital Territory.”

Dazang, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja

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