Adamawa bridges now trav­ellers’ night­mare

Residents urge govt to re­voke con­tract

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Kabiru R. An­war, Yola

Kuzum, Dilichim and Wuro Gayandi bridges are cur­rently the night­mare of trav­ellers along the high­way that con­nects the cen­tral parts of Adamawa State with the north, as well as Borno State.

A queue of cars wait im­pa­tiently at both ends of the nar­row colo­nial era bridge and then, start cross­ing, one at a time, while tensed look­ing pas­sen­gers say their prayers as the car makes its way along the nar­row bridge sus­pended in the air by rusty met­als amid noisy clank­ing sound of wood and me­tal. Trucks and other heavy­duty ve­hi­cles can­not pass through the pre­car­i­ous con­trap­tion. The scary colo­nial bridge aban­doned for decades is be­ing put to use again fol­low­ing the de­struc­tion of the mod­ern con­crete Kuzum bridge by the Boko Haram in­sur­gents.

Cross­ing Dilichim and Wuro Gayandi bridges is a bit tricky be­cause mo­torists drive on sand filled path across the river. The bridge is a pile of sand sus­cep­ti­ble to be­ing washed away by run­ning wa­ter when­ever it rains.

The struc­tures were de­stroyed at the height of Boko Haram in­sur­gency in 2014 when the in­sur­gents took over con­trol of seven lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas and threat­ened sev­eral oth­ers in the state. With the com­ing of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s gov­ern­ment, con­tract for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the struc­tures was awarded to RHAS Nige­ria Ltd.

“Cross­ing Dilichim tem­po­rary bridge was the worst mo­ment for me. I was trav­el­ing from Yola to Shuwa in Mada­gali. We man­aged to cross Kuzum but cross­ing Dilichim be­came a prob­lem be­cause it just stated rain­ing when we were in the mid­dle of the bridge. Strong wa­ter cur­rent washed away the bridge and we were all con­fused. Luck­ily, the driver man­aged to make it. We could have drowned,” a busi­ness man who plies the road told Daily Trust Satur­day.

Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in Michika and Mada­gali have been fac­ing a hard time since the col­lapse of the three ma­jor bridges link­ing them with the state cap­i­tal. Mo­torists conveying peo­ple and goods have dif­fi­culty cross­ing the rivers, es­pe­cially in the rainy sea­son.

Nei­ther the gov­ern­ment nor the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are sat­is­fied with the man­ner the con­trac­tor is han­dling the project awarded by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment four years ago, with com­mu­nity lead­ers and politi­cians crit­i­cis­ing the con­struc­tion firm for fail­ure to mo­bilise ad­e­quate ma­chin­ery and man­power to the site which re­mained the way it had been be­fore com­mence­ment of the re­pairs.

Residents of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in­ter­viewed by our re­porter ex­pressed frus­tra­tion over the stalling of the project which started four years ago as part of fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture in the com­mu­ni­ties rav­aged by Boko Haram in north­east Nige­ria.

Maikudi Uba, a com­mer­cial driver who plies the Yola- Mada­gali route, lamented the dif­fi­culty mo­torists en­counter at the bridges, say­ing cross­ing them takes un­nec­es­sar­ily long time, adding that some pas­sen­gers of­ten aban­don their trips to avoid the hard­ship and trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence en­coun­tered at the af­fected bridges.

“This con­struc­tion com­pany can­not do this job in ten years. They are too slow,” Maikudi com­plained.

Aliyu Hamma, a res­i­dent of Yola who at­tended his brother’s burial in Mada­gali re­cently, while nar­rat­ing his or­deal to Daily Trust Satur­day, said he was ter­ri­fied while cross­ing the tem­po­rary bridge that was made with sand at Dilchim.

“Pres­i­dent Buhari ought to have re­voked this con­tract be­cause the con­trac­tor is a to­tal fail­ure. For four years, no progress has been made. This is enough to tell the pres­i­dent that this com­pany is in­com­pe­tent and can­not ex­e­cute the job,” he stated.

At the peak of rainy sea­son in Au­gust 2019, Adamawa State gov­er­nor, Ah­madu Umaru Fin­tiri, be­rated the con­trac­tor dur­ing a visit to Dilichim project site af­ter rain­fall washed away the bridge, cut­ting away hun­dred of com­mu­ni­ties and ren­der­ing trav­ellers stranded along the high­way.

The gov­er­nor ac­cused the con­trac­tor of in­com­pe­tence and lack of ca­pac­ity to ex­e­cute such a project, call­ing on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to re­voke the con­tract and re-award it to an­other com­pany for speedy ex­e­cu­tion of the re­pairs.

He lamented that the sit­u­a­tion had slowed down busi­nesses in the area known for ro­bust eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, not­ing that the eco­nomic loss caused by the at­ti­tude of the con­struc­tion com­pany was enor­mous. The gov­er­nor had re­port­edly made sev­eral trips to Abuja to fol­low up the mat­ter with the rel­e­vant fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Speak­ing on be­half of the con­trac­tor, the site en­gi­neer for Dilichim Bridge, Joshua Yakubu, had said the de­lay was ne­ces­si­tated by ac­tiv­i­ties of in­sur­gents in the area, urg­ing the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to ex­er­cise pa­tience as the com­pany was com­mit­ted to the com­ple­tion of the project as soon as pos­si­ble.

Soon after­wards, the con­trac­tor re­turned to site and worked for some­time, erect­ing some con­crete pil­lars and then dis­ap­peared, at­tract­ing pub­lic out­age as the rainy sea­son set in. Lo­cals have to swim across the rivers to go about their daily ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Michika Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment coun­cil chair­man, Michael Shehu, said with the stalling of the bridge re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion project, lo­cals and trav­ellers had to use risky tem­po­rary struc­tures to cross the rivers. He ap­pealed to the fed­eral au­thor­i­ties to call the con­trac­tor to or­der for speedy com­ple­tion of the re­pairs and to ame­lio­rate the hard­ship the lo­cals have been sub­jected to.

“If not for tem­po­rary mea­sures taken, we would have been cut off com­pletely and Michika is a busi­ness area. The tem­po­rary bridge is re­ha­bil­i­tated from time to time. A tem­po­rary one is made us­ing sand which means a par­tic­u­lar place is blocked to al­low peo­ple cross but when it rains, the wa­ter washes it away. Some­time in Au­gust last year, the bridge col­lapsed and peo­ple were cut off for two days. The gov­er­nor was here with of­fi­cials from the North East De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (NEDC). I have seen com­mit­ment from the side of the gov­er­nor,” Shehu noted.

“The con­tac­tor has left the site. We are call­ing on fed­eral gov­ern­ment to take a de­ci­sive ac­tion. You can see, at Dilichim, peo­ple are us­ing a tem­po­rary bridge made with sand. As for Kuzum, the old bridge con­structed in the 1950s is used as a tem­po­rary mea­sure. Trucks can­not pass and they go round through Mubi and join the road af­ter Kuzum which is longer and costlier,” he added.

Dilchim bridge

Dilchim bridge

Dilchim bridge dur­ing Fin­tiri’s visit in Au­gust, 2019

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