In­side Makurdi’s North Bank sub­urb

Weekly Trust - - News - Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 27, 2018 Hope Abah Em­manuel, Makurdi An area at the North Bank One of the clean­est streets in old North Bank sub­urb A drainage stuck with dirt PHO­TOS:

Life in Makurdi’s North Bank could be com­pared to sundry ex­pe­ri­ences in over­crowded sub­urbs across Nige­ria. Of­ten­times, the good side of ur­ban sub­urbs such as North Bank is scarcely seen be­cause it is hid­den in the hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries of crim­i­nal­ity as­so­ci­ated with slum com­mu­ni­ties.

There are no doubts about the sim­i­lar­i­ties these sub­urbs share in crim­i­nal­ity, com­monly no­ticed in ab­ject poverty, dirty en­vi­ron­ment, il­lit­er­acy and lack of so­cial ameni­ties which gov­ern­ment alone, in many cases, could pro­vide.

How­ever, in Makurdi’s North Bank, there are some ar­eas with nice res­i­den­tial build­ings and de­cent sur­round­ings just as some neigh­bor­hoods have re­mained filthy de­spite heavy trad­ing and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on.

Our cor­re­spon­dent, who vis­ited the area, re­ports that the densely pop­u­lated sub­urb is a mini-Nige­ria with peo­ple from al­most all the eth­nic groups liv­ing in har­mony.

Vice Pres­i­dent of the com­mu­nity, El­der Baaki Mathew Ayuba, went down mem­ory lane to re­call that his fa­ther - a worker with the Pub­lic Works De­part­ment (PWD), set­tled at the North Bank in 1932 dur­ing the pe­riod the old rail­way bridge was built.

Ayuba, an in­di­gene of Gwer East Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Benue State, said his fa­ther later joined the Nige­rian Army and re­tired as Staff Sergeant af­ter work­ing in the mil­i­tary as a ru­ral driver.

“I have lived all my life in North Bank as a part time farmer, politi­cian and ad­ver­tiser with Marka Ad­ver­tis­ing Com­pany. It is dis­heart­en­ing that suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments apart from that of Gov­er­nor Gabriel Suswam have ne­glected the area in terms of im­prov­ing on in­fra­struc­ture,” he said.

He noted that the road to the rail­way bridge got so bad that the area would have been cut off from the other parts of Makurdi be­fore the present state gov­ern­ment at­tended to it fol­low­ing des­per­ate cries from mem­bers com­mu­nity.

For Ayuba how­ever, cultism and petty crimes, such as bur­glary, re­mained a worry for peo­ple of the North Bank com­mu­nity de­spite the po­lice and vig­i­lante ef­forts to curb such crimes.

He also ex­pressed con­cern over in­ad­e­quate wa­ter sup­ply to the com­mu­nity as well as ac­cess roads to nav­i­gate the nooks and cran­nies of the sur­round­ing, em­pha­sis­ing the need for the state gov­ern­ment to open up streets and pro­vide potable wa­ter for the peo­ple.

On drainages, Ayuba said that they have been talk­ing to res­i­dents on the need to clear up gut­ters and blocked wa­ter chan­nels while he blamed in­dis­crim­i­nate refuse dump on the in­abil­ity of the state san­i­ta­tion author­ity to evac­u­ate it.

He said ex­ec­u­tives of the com­mu­nity pro­vided refuse bins for res­i­dents but the prob­lem had re­mained evac­u­a­tion, stress­ing that the au­thor­i­ties re­spon­si­ble for that do not show up to re­move the dirt.

While he wor­ried about the heap of refuse on the premises of St. Mary’s Pri­mary School in the area, he ac­cused the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment and BENSACA of not evac­u­at­ing it as they had al­legedly re­quested for the sum of N250,000 for its evac­u­a­tion.

In his opin­ion, it was wrong for the gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions to re­quest for such con­di­tion be­fore of the ren­der­ing their ser­vices, stress­ing that the in­no­cent pupils should not be made to suf­fer for gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to de­liver on the div­i­dends of democ­racy.

When asked about the good side of liv­ing in North Bank sub­urb, he an­swered glee­fully, “If you want to rest, come to North Bank. Our mar­ket of­fers the best of fresh foods. North Bank is also never flooded be­cause it sits on a hill.”

“We have in this vicin­ity, a High Court, two mil­i­tary bar­racks - Nige­ria Army School of Mil­i­tary Engi­neer­ing (NASME) and 72 Spe­cial Forces Bri­gade, a big Catholic Church, Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal among oth­ers. North Bank is Nige­ria - a home to tribes in­clud­ing for­eign­ers, and that is why we want the streets opened up for more busi­nesses to thrive.”

The chair­man of the Traders Union at the North Bank mar­ket, Od­i­naka Nwanya, cor­rob­o­rated the vice chair­man of the com­mu­nity on the san­i­tary con­di­tion of the area.

The traders’ leader said the san­i­ta­tion author­ity had con­sis­tently re­fused to pro­vide bins for refuse col­lec­tion and that they do not come to evac­u­ate same while the road sweep­ers were in the habit of sweep­ing dirt into the gut­ters around the mar­ket.

Nwanya also com­plained of where to keep the refuse bins when the au­thor­i­ties even­tu­ally heed to their de­mand as he noted that the chal­lenge of space had al­ready caused rip­ples among var­i­ous or­gans in the mar­ket with the Nige­ria Union of Road Trans­port Work­ers (NURTW) re­ject­ing the idea of sit­u­at­ing the bins in front of their of­fice.

Mean­while, the Gen­eral Man­ager of the Benue State En­vi­ron­men­tal and San­i­ta­tion Author­ity (BENSESA), Engr. An­drew Chile, at the time of this re­port was yet to re­act to the al­le­ga­tions. Our cor­re­spon­dent has not been able to see him af­ter sev­eral visits to his of­fice while calls to his tele­phone lines were not an­swered.

But Chile, dur­ing a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view with had blamed the ac­tiv­i­ties of sabo­teurs which he said was trun­cat­ing refuse col­lec­tion and evac­u­a­tion, es­pe­cially in Makurdi metropo­lis.

Emeka Anyaoku, who lives on Ter Guma Street in North Bank, wor­ried that the area has largely re­mained un­der­de­vel­oped in terms of in­fra­struc­tures even though it was about the first place of set­tle­ment in the his­tory of the state cap­i­tal it­self.

Anyaoku, who had lived over 40 years in the sub­urb, thinks that gov­ern­ment could do more to erase the slum sta­tus of the area by beau­ti­fy­ing the streets, en­sur­ing proper waste man­age­ment and pro­vid­ing potable wa­ter for the peo­ple.

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