The recent downpours in Gombe State have left many residents homeless and stranded, as hundreds of people were affected in Funakaye Local Government Area. Sadly, residents of Ashaka Gari, a suburb of Funakaye, are the worst hit.
Ashaka Gari is located in the northeast of Bajoga, the headquarters of Funakaye LGA, and hosts about 15,000 residents who are cut off from certain benefits [mostly economic and health-related] as a result of the dilapidated road network. Recently, a bridge linking the community to other neighbourhoods collapsed, making the area more prone to flooding.
In 2012, the then administration of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo awarded the sum of N950 million for the inter-township road construction from Bajoga to Ashaka Gari. Before the intervention, Ashaka Gari was famous for its local export of sweet potatoes and watermelons, using a footpath-created route while significantly contributing to the revenue of Gombe State.
Barely 10 years after the construction of the major road linking Bajoga and Ashaka Gari (awarded by Dankwanbo), the bridge connecting the two towns collapsed, completely isolating the people of Ashaka Gari from the rest of the state.
The collapse has not only hinder the export of farm products from Ashaka Gari, but stiffened access to basic services, especially health-related.
Before the total collapse of the bridge, residents say their efforts to prevent it were downplayed and frustrated by the present administration led by Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, the governor of Gombe State.
Abubakar Sulaiman, a resident of Ashaka Gari in a phone interview told WikkiTimes that they are not clear about Yahaya’s administration. “We the people of Ashaka Gari are confused about the intention of the present administration,” he said. “This road was built by the previous administration, the people of Ashaka Gari have been using the road to transport their farm products knowing so well that the majority of the residents here are highly dependent on farming.”
“We also travel using the road to other parts of the state and the country at large,” he continued. “The most important and pressing concern is that we use the road to assess medical facilities located in Bajoga town, and considering that this is a raining season, our children are often sick and the road is not convenient to take them to the major health facility in Bajoga which is why we resorted to visiting chemists.”
Abubakar further stated: “Before the bridge collapsed completely, our people have made effort to reach out to the appropriate authority seeking intervention. However, there was no positive response and now it has collapsed completely. We know that if the government had responded on time, the cost implication would have been less compared to what is obtainable presently.”
Residents told WikkiTimes it costs N100 to get to Bajoga town [before the collapse], but the present situation has skyrocketed the fare.
“It will cost you just N100 to get to Bajoga,” Abubakar explained. “But now, the least you will be charged is N600 because of the condition of the road. This means that in the case of emergency, one can easily lose his life because of what it takes to get across to the other part where the medical facility is readily available.”
Nuhu Isah, a veterinarian in Ashaka Gari, told WikkiTimes how dangerous it could be for a homecoming person when it rains.
He said: “If you are away and it rains, ultimately you may have to spend the night away because there will be no road for you to return home. This major road has been a blessing to us by the previous administration, and we will continue to pray for the parents of those who were part of the development, but we desperately need the present administration to come to our aid.”
Pleas fell on deaf hears
On the part of the member representing Funakaye at the state assembly, Sadam Bello Sale, in a letter dated July 4, 2022, appealed to the state government to swiftly rescue the situation. He pointed out the importance of the road to the safety, welfare, and economy of the people of the village.
In a video posted on Facebook on August 1, 2022, Ibrahim Adamu Cheldu, the Chairman of Funakaye Local Government, claimed that all necessary arrangements had been put in place, ranging from cost estimation to location citing and that contractors were on their way to commence the reconstruction of the bridge.
Thirteen days after, the collapsed road is yet to be fixed. Residents shared contrary views with the chairman, saying he was never concerned about the village. According to them, he was contacted prior to the menace but turned deaf ears to them.
They, however, pleaded with the state government to quickly come to their aid.
Both the Gombe State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Gombe State Ministry of Environment said they were not aware of the collapsed bridge. A responder at SEMA told WikkiTimes that the agency was not aware of the incident. He, however, stated that the ministry of environment should know about it.
Ishaku Kure, the Director of Environment, Gombe State Ministry of Environment said he was hearing about the matter for the first time from WikkiTimes.
“It has not been reported to us officially,” Kure told WikkiTimes. “If something like that happens it is actually good for the community to report to the appropriate agency. I am the director of environment and I have not heard anything like that.”