By Yemi Sodeeq
Between 2019 and 2021, the Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority has released millions of naira to Salta Infrastructure for the rehabilitation of farm settlements and Chayakyagi road to Gbaradogi in Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State. But two years down the line, The Informant247 reports that despite the funds, the settlements remain in shambles with the roads yet to be constructed.
Residents of Gbaradogi, a community on the bank of River Niger in Patigi, Kwara State, are suffering. The single road that connects people to the rest of the world is almost unmotorable.
The inhabitants are mostly farmers and getting their produce to Patigi market has been a hard slog. The road is often flooded and pools of water are seen at different points along the way as the River Niger frequently overflows the embankment constructed many years ago.
“Transporting our farm produce and people to market through this road is always difficult,” said Muhammed Ibrahim who is a farmer and commercial motorcyclist. “The government knows that this road is not good, and they know we are poor people who only survive through this place. They should just come and help us.”
While an embankment was constructed during the administration of Governor Mohammed Lawal, the village head of Gbaradogi, Alhaji Muhammed Tswako told The Informant247 that the village is now often flooded.
“The road is terrible,” Tswako said. “We have made efforts to reach out to the government even when the present governor came here the other time, we told him about the road and farm settlement, yet we have not seen any changes.”
The village head of Gbaradogi, Alhaji Muhammed Tswako
Another resident, Muhammed Jiya said, “Anytime we witnessed the flood here, it used to affect the water we are drinking. We would have to go to another village to fetch water to drink.”
The problem with the farm settlement
This farm settlement is majorly used for rice production and the farmers often record huge losses due to floods.
“The flood always washes away our rice,” said Umar Abdullahi, a farmer in Gbaradogi. “In an event where we need to harvest 10 bags of rice, we would get three or four at the end of the day. It’s a bad experience.”
Umar Abdullahi in his farm
The people of Gbaradogi community claimed that a culvert, which was haphazardly done, was constructed around three years ago through Aliyu Bahago, the lawmaker who represented Edu, Patigi local government areas of Kwara State at the Federal House of Representatives between 2011-2019.
“That culvert was never enough,” said Muhammed Jiya, a resident of the community. “It was even poorly done because it doesn’t stretch through the entire length of the road – even while we told them that they should raise it above the level of the ones there before, they didn’t do it.”
Money down the drain
Between 2019 and 2021, the federal government through the Ministry of Water Resources released over N55 million for the rehabilitation of farm settlements, including Chayakyagi road to Gbaradogi.
The contract was awarded to Salta Infrastructure and Construction Company Limited under the supervision of Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority.
A breakdown of the funds meant for the project showed that in April 2019, part payment of over N28 million was released to the contractor. Then in December of the same year, N17.4 million was released, while another payment of N9.3 million was released to the contractor in September last year.
Despite funding, the people of Gbaradogi are still reeling in hardship due to the bad road and lack of other basic amenities in the area.
Residents of Mamba community equally had their hope dashed away after a contractor handling Mamba to Nimbo road failed to deliver the project. THE INFORMANT247 reports that although money was released for the work to be carried out, the road is still lying fallow.
Nimbo Mamba road
Awarded to Extreme Industry limited, N8.7 million was released as part payment for the project on August 6, 2020, while N9.4 million was released in September last year 2021, but the road still remains a hard slog for motorists.
Around March 2020, the road was marked for expansion and different places were marked out for the construction of culverts aimed at curbing erosion, according to the locals.
“It usually takes us two days to transport our farm produce past this road to market. Erosion has affected the road and a journey that is supposed to take less than five minutes now takes more than 30 minutes,” said Yahaya Muhammed, a resident of the community.
“It is always difficult to get a sick person past this road, especially during an emergency period and sometimes life is lost,” he added.
Kolo Muhammed, the youth leader of Mamba noted that they never felt the presence of the government even though the community is always relevant to politicians during the electioneering period.
“It’s always a terrible experience passing this road in the afternoon and most especially at night but it’s easy for politicians to come and mobilise us to vote during elections but we enjoy no dividends,” Muhammed said.
Kolo Muhammed, Mamba Youth Leader
He furthered, “We have made a lot of moves, especially to the Patigi local government secretariat and other political office holders with loads of promises that have never come to pass.”
Madu Issah, the village head of Mamba appealed to the government to come to their aid and provide basic amenities for the community.
Ogun/Oshun River Basin Development Authority blames inadequate funding
Responding to a Freedom of Information request by The Informant 247, the Ogun/Oshun River Basin Development Authority denied abandoning the project.
The agency argued that inadequate release of funds was the major reason stalling the execution of the project.
The agency in its response pointed out that the scope of the entire project title covers four contracts which include Chayakyagi roads, Wayata Court road, Hospital Mortuary road and Chief Imam road, all in Patigi.
Chayakyagi and Farm settlement road
The agency also argued that no money was released for the projects in 2020 and 2021, but findings by INFORMANT247 showed that it was false.
It claimed that projects the reporter was referring to were part of a larger three-pack project including land reclamation/erosion control works awarded at the rate of N81,433,607.02, Land reclamation/erosion control Esungi- Ferry, awarded at N113,432,660.25 and Land reclamation/erosion control works at Mawogi awarded at N62,979,128.96.
While the agency claimed that no money has been released in 2022 for the projects, it stated that a total sum of N57,500,000.00, N95,000.00 and N15,000,000.00 for all the projects in 2019,2020 and 2021 respectively were released.
When asked about the rehabilitation of farm settlements and Chakyagi road, the company, Salta Construction and Infrastructure Limited denied any link with the project.
In a phone call with The Informant247, a staff of Salta, who introduced himself as Seyi said, “We didn’t do any project like that and we are not aware of it. We never bid for such a project.”
The denial by the construction firm further raises questions about the bidding process and other information churned out by the agency regarding the project. Efforts to reach Extreme Industrial Limited however proved abortive as several calls put to the telephone lines of the company weren’t answered.
The agency’s response to the FOI request by this medium fails to address questions on the bidding process and how the companies handling the works were selected.
This report was published with support from Civic Media Lab.