A coalition of youth groups from Kogi Central Senatorial district has berated the federal government’s long neglect of the dilapidated Okene – Lokoja highway.
Members of Coalition of Kogi State Elites (COKE) in Collaboration with the Kogi Central Excos of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) who embarked on a joint community project to manually sand-fill the badly damaged portions of the road today in Okene, described the situation as disappointing.
Comrade Abdul Rauf, president of COKE lamented the perennial negligence of the road by successive administrations in Nigeria.
Abdul Rauf wondered why a road that’s plied by tens of thousands of travellers to and from the federal capital territory, Abuja could be left unaddressed for so long.
“It is unfortunate that the Federal government has paid no heed to several appeals for the total rehabilitation of this all important road.
“For over a decade, this particular road has been listed among the capital project of our national budget but has never received significant attention from successive government”.
Speaking on behalf of the Kogi Central Excos of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Isah Onimisi Babangida recalled the nightmare faced by motorists on the damaged portions of the highway, citing instances where travellers spent days on traffic gridlock around the area.
“There was an instance where Abuja and Lagos bound travellers spent about three days on this road. Traffic was on a standstill as all the escape routes within the township were over congested and completely blocked.
“It has been a horrible experience for the motorists since the rainy season began until the road recently received palliative measures from both Kogi State Government and the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
“The temporary repairs only provide relief for a short time as it is now an annual tradition during the rainy seasons when heavy downpours erode most part of the road due to poor drainage system.
A member of the group, Comrade Ismail M. Kabir wondered why in spite of the huge support enjoyed by President Muhammadu Buhari since his presidential ambition began in 2003 by the people of Kogi central district, no meaningful project has been brought to the zone.
“It is on record that President Muhammad Buhari has enjoyed undiluted support of the people of Kogi Central district since he began his presidential ambition in 2003.
“I think it is not too much to ask that the administration makes the federal roads passing through our community motorable for the multitude of Nigerians plying this route on daily basis. The adverse effect is already telling on the socioeconomic activities in the community”.
The group then called on lawmakers from the area to raise their voice in solidarity with the advocacy by raising motions in favour of total rehabilitation of the highway, saying all hands must be on deck until a permanent solution is proffered.
While acknowledging the recent palliative steps taken by the state government to ease traffic on the road, the group further called on Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello to mount pressure on the Power, Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola to declare a state of emergency on the road for its total rehabilitation ahead of the Yuletide period.
“We are approaching December and the road is already an eyesore. So we are calling on our governor to strongly appeal to the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Raji Fashola to declare a state of emergency on this road to avoid a repeat of the usual gridlock motorists experience around here at such time of the year”.