Infrastructure developments have always taken the front burner as a yardstick for measuring the performances of all levels of government.
In Niger state, how the administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is reversing infrastructure decays as a means of development recently took the centre stage in the scrutiny of the administration’s scorecard as presented by the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure Development, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe Kagara, in a parley with the Niger state media strategy committee.
Ministry of Works’ special task The task of my ministry has to do with infrastructure development.
We have three major components of the ministry.
They are the civil engineering department, electrical and mechanical department and public building department.
These three departments are saddled with the responsibility of infrastructure development of the state.
Has the ministry delivered on its mandate? Yes, since the inception of this government in 2015, the dream of the Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, is to revitalise the already decaying system.
He came at the time when virtually all the infrastructural facilities in the state needed urgent attention.
And, unfortunately, we came the country was passing through economic recession.
The amount of money available for the government for infrastructural development was very meager.
However, despite this challenge, he did his best to ensure that he executed projects to make the state better than he met it.
Is it true that the Governor Bello administration does not embark on gigantic projects? Let me put this question in the right perceptive.
In other words, people are asking while we do not have white elephant projects as a government.
The simple answer is that we needed to begin to address issues and projects that have direct bearing with the people, especially those in rural communities, rather than embarking on white elephant projects that would not benefit the common man.
The issue of potable water, good roads and attention to public institutions which were in decayed state.
That is the reason why Governor Sani Bello has intervened virtually everywhere in all sectors.
As you can see there were major investments in education, healthcare, youths and women empowerment as well as infrastructure.
Gov Bello’s infrastructure developement scorecard Infrastructure here is our main concern as ministry of works.
The Governor was able to rehabilitate and build new roads amounting to billions of naira.
The same is true in the electrification of several rural communities.
There were lots of interventions in the power sector towards improving power supply in the state.
Some public institutions also have face-lift, we have the judiciary, state House of Assembly, fire service, police formations and many others.
People might see these as little intervention, but they have gone a long way in addressing some of the basic needs of the people.
Don’t forget that we came at a time when security challenges were everywhere.
Therefore, the need to invest in security became paramount not only by addressing security situation, but substantial investment was also made in reforming the structures that accommodate these security agencies.
That is why we have interventions in renovations of police divisions and outposts across the state.
As a state and as a ministry, we are able to do the best we can to ensure that more rural communities are linked up to urban communities in order to reduce rural-urban migration.
Executed road projects This is a sort of holistic information about the activities of the ministry.
I believe you may want to ask specific questions about what I am talking about.
In Minna, our first major road intervention was the Sabon Gari road that linked to UK Bello Arts Theatre.
That project was conceived and completed by this administration within the first hundred days of the governor in office at the cost of N205, 221, 937, 64.
To the glory of this administration we are able to construct the Makera road, complete dualisation of Market – Kuta road awarded at the cost N1.09 billion, construction of the Fadikpe – Gbagenu road at the cost of N659, 476, 536.
We also have the Brighter school – Heema school – NNPC mega station road awarded at the cost of N736, 217 million, the Sarki Bosso road and the New York road that is the London street – FUT Bosso campus road.
Currently, we are having five number roads on the London Street, the Bosso Low-Cost axis as well as Gongo Maileli.
In addition, to the credit of this administration, we completed the Dattijo Aliyu road which was awarded by the administration of late Engineer Abdulkadir Kure which was abandoned.
This administration completed it and annexed it to the commissioners’ road that burst out to Imani junction.
All these roads were constructed within Minna.
This same administration has same major interventions in Bida, Kontagora and Suleja.
For instance, we have done Tegna township roads rehabilitation at the contract sum of N341, 996,171.
It is important for me to also mention the rehabilitation/maintenance of Minna – Suleja – Lambata – Diko road in which we have expended over N3 billion.
We also have interventions in the 10km roads of Kuta, Agaie, Borgu and hosts of others.
However, from the list of road projects awarded by government, you will discover that government has committed over N23 billion to road constructions within the state in the past three years.
It is also very important to say that most of the projects have been completed while others are at various stages of completion.
Electricity distribution concerns We have a number of electrification projects executed across the state.
When we came on board Rafi local government was in total blackout for a period of time, which prompted this government to provide 7.5 MBS substation in Kagara.
This was the first intervention in electrification in Niger state.
We also took the electrification of three major communities in Rafi local government namely Kusheriki, Zara and Gidigori.
We have these interventions in several other communities in zone A cutting across Katcha, Bida, Lavun and Mokwa.
The state government is constructing another substation to boost electricity supply in Mokwa and its environs.
This is administration has procured more than 300 transformers distributed across the state in other to boost electricity supply to several communities.
We have another 7.5 MBN sub-station at Yelwa ready to be commissioned in addition to many other interventions in the power sub-sector.
On judiciary and legislature In the area of public building like I said earlier, we have carried out lots of interventions in building and renovation of courtrooms, police divisions and outposts.
In the same vein, we extended infrastructural development to the legislative arm of government and as you can see the Niger state House of Assembly is having a facelift.
We have started the construction of another wing of the Assembly Complex to accommodate members who are not having offices.
The project is aimed at providing our lawmakers good working environment.
This administration is desirous of addressing the challenge of inadequate offices at the Assembly.
Minna – Suleja road repairs As you well know, Niger state has about 10% of the total land mass of the country.
This translates into having more number of federal roads in the country.
Unfortunately, when we came in, all these roads were not in good condition.
As a responsive government, we took it upon ourselves to intervene in addressing this challenge, even though there are not state government projects.
The Minna – Suleja road has been awarded by the federal government to Salini but unfortunately, the funding wasn’t forthcoming.
As a responsive state and responsive government, we felt the need to invest in addressing the situation.
As you can see we have a contractor firm, Tracta Company presently working on site in part of the road contracted by the state government.
Initially, we gave them between Kakaki Gwakutu which was the first face of the contract.
It has now been extended to Lambata to address the major challenges of that road.
We are made to understand the funding arrangement between the federal government and its contractor – Salini is to cover only three billion naira of the Sukuk funding arrangement and that project will terminate and Lambata until another appropriation probably in the 2019 budget.
However, we felt that waiting for 2019 will lead to loss of more lives on that road.
Therefore, Governor Sani Bello insisted that we must give deserved attention in addressing the problem of the road within shortest possible time.
So far, so good, our contractor is on site and we are hopeful that the project will be completed very soon.
I should point out the fact that if not for the heavy rains the contractor would have completed the project by now.
I am satisfied with the level of work done on site which has attained more than 80 per cent completion.
As I said earlier, government has spent more than three billion naira on rehabilitation of portions of the road.
Collapsed bridges As you are aware, we just came back from Birni Boka where we inspected a bridge that collapsed on a federal road.
The road had been awarded to a contractor but yet to mobilise to site.
We have a major wash out of the road in the area.
As a way of mitigating the sufferings of our people in that area, the governor has directed the ministry of works to take immediate action in addressing that challenge.
He felt that we do not have to wait for the federal government because the people plying that road are Nigerlites and as a responsible government we must do everything possible to address their plight.
As I am talking to you now I am mobilising to commence work on that site.
The Kontagora – Makera road where another bridge collapsed last year is another eyesore.
We understand that it has actually been awarded by the federal government but contractors yet to resume on site.
There are other interventions on the federal roads by this administration, for instance in Tegna around the junction that connects Minna, Kagara and Kontagora was an eyesore.
That portion was addressed by the state government.
We equally had such situation in Kagara, from the secretariat passing through the sharp bend to the bridge before the hospital.
Let me emphasis that we used to record accident in this portion almost on daily basis before our intervention and since we did the work, cases of accident have become a thing of the past in the place.
There are other interventions even along Makera – Mokwa road done by the state government.
So Niger state government has committed a colossal amount of money in addressing the problem of bad conditions of federal roads within the state even when the federal government is saying that it may not refund us Dilapidated federal roads in Niger That is one thing this administration has been battling with since its inception.
Each time we are able to address our interstate roads, there will be a break down on the trunk A road which is the federal government road and diversion of heavy truck and trailers into our roads will set in.
Before we know it, the articulated vehicles will destroy our roads and take us back to square one.
You can see the condition of our roads even within the Minna metropolis as continuously destroyed by these heavy duty trucks.
It is not as if these state roads are bad, but because of the heavy trucks plying them, we always have issues of some portions collapsing.
For instance, a tanker that is supposed to carry 33,000 litres of fuel would carry 60, 000 litres and it is such overloads that destroy our roads.
It may interest you to know that we have a major washout last week on Minna – Bida road, during which we did not see the trailers again.
However, we were able to fix the road within 24 hours and within moments the trailers were back on the road.
As a government we are facing this challenge and I am using this medium to call on the federal government to pay more attention to the federal roads, particularly the ones that passed through Niger state.