Last Tuesday, the Farin-Doki-Erena bridge in the banditry-ravaged Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State collapsed when a borehole-drilling truck was trying to cross it.
For residents, the collapsed bridge means two things: uneasy escape route from marauding bandits and a clampdown on economic activities.
The collapsed bridge, WikkiTimes, connects eight farming communities suffering unending banditry activities. The communities, according to residents, are a few kilometres away from Kuta town, the headquarters of Shiroro LGA.
A resident of the community who do not want his name in print, told WikkiTimes on Saturday that the collapsed bridge had thrown residents into difficulties.
“It collapsed at about 10:00 am on Tuesday, causing motorists and commuters, particularly business owners and farmers who use the route on a daily basis to bear the brunt,” he said.
“It was a heavy-duty borehole-drilling vehicle that passed through the bridge,” Jibrin Allawa, a community leader in Shiroro LGA told WikkiTimes, adding the bridge was already weak and overdue for repairs.
According to him, locals fleeing from bandits’ attacks could be trapped if the bridge is not fixed on time. “This security issue is a problem, and that is the only way one can get out of the community,” he said. “Now, the bridge has collapsed!”
While hoping that the government would address their plights, Allawa blamed the chairman of the council for leaving his people in hardship and flying to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj exercise. Although he believes the local council could not bear the cost of repairing the road, he expects the chairman would call the government’s attention to it.
“We are calling on the Niger State government as a matter of urgency to come to our aid as the local council is incapacitated to construct the bridge,” he said.
“We are waiting for the governor to act first to save the lives of the people of Erena and adjoining communities,” he said.
Usman Ibrahim Kuta, the chairman of Coalition of Shiroro Associations, reiterates that the aged bridge links many communities together. According to him, residents have been using an alternative route since the bridge collapsed, but he worries the route would not be accessible if it rained.
“If it rains, the route residents are using will not be accessible as water will be overflowing,” he said. “As such, there is an urgent need for that because there is no way the bridge can be renovated. It needs complete construction.”
“Because if a bridge is not constructed on that same river, there is no way people would use the road. It will stop activities and other movements around the Erena axis,” he added.
He told WikkiTimes that residents are already suffering losses as they can barely transport farm produce to the market.
According to the union leader, the residents now risk their lives by passing under the bridge to get to their destination.
If it rains, “that route will not be accessible because they have to cross the water. The amount of water under the bridge is bearable for now.”
He said the association has been trying to get the attention of the local council.
“I cannot be able to ascertain what the council is doing. But we have been calling their attention,” he said. WikkiTimes could not immediately reach officials of the local council.
Also, Ibrahim Hussaini, head of the information unit at the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), was not available for comment. A text sent to him had not been responded to at press time.