A multi-million naira 15-kilometre road that Kwankwaso’s administration awarded and Ganduje’s administration rewarded has been abandoned after years of being scheduled to be completed in seven and five months respectively. In this report, Elijah Akoji takes a deep dive into the hazards and negative health impact of the road on school children, residents, and businesses along the road.
The Popular Zungeru road is part of the ancient roads in the Sabon Gari axis which is a hub for over seven schools, four hotels, six churches, a pharmaceutical company, a magistrate court, a mall, a divisional police station and a barrack. This road links residents to three major markets and also connects commuters to places like Hajj camp, the EFCC headquarters, Mallam Aminu International Airport, and the Federal Secretariat. It accommodates over 1,500 commuters daily and contributes to the internally generated revenue of the state.
Findings revealed that the abandoned Zungeru road has turned into a waste disposal ground for residents. Also, poor drainages and a failed bridge worsen the already decaying road which in turn threatens the health of the residents, school children and commuters plying the road.
An asthmatic schoolboy, Chibuike Kings Amaka, walks through the dusty road to school every day, risking his health and life. To him, his dream of becoming a medical doctor and his parents’ sacrifices are worth the daily risks.
“I wish my parent can change my school,” the young boy says. “But they are financially incapacitated at the moment. It is impossible for me not to walk through this road daily, I get frightened whenever it’s school days because of my health, and the danger of crossing the bridge which is already collapsing remains my worse nightmare daily.”
“Most times I wear my facemask because of the dust. I am so allergic to dust because I am asthmatic,” he continues. “The worse of it all is the odour that the poor condition of the drainages causes alongside the smell from the water flowing under the bridge produces. The odour has always been a threat to my health considering my condition.”
Abel Samuel’s introduction to the road could have hardly gone any worse. His father’s car got stuck in the drainage along the road after a heavy downpour. On the day he was to resume as a new student at Golden Best Academy, Samuel went to school drenched by the rain and uniforms, dirtied by the murky water.
“It was supposed to be my first day in Golden Best Academy, I got to school all soaked, beaten by the rain with my new white stockings all turned brown,” he recounts. “I cried all through the day and never wanted to go back the next day, as if that was not enough, I went home with a running stomach because of the smell I never knew where it was coming from, it was later I was told the smell was coming from the bridge, ever since then I detest plying that road when going to school, but it’s my only option.”
Findings by this paper revealed a surge in accidents, deaths, and injuries to residents and commuters plying the road. This was as a result of a failed section of the road. It covers about 23.5 kilometres. Relatives and victims of those involved in various forms of accidents blamed their predicaments on the decaying road.
47-yer-old Samuel Damilola, a panel beater on the road, narrated how one of his customers nearly lost his life in an auto accident while driving to his workshop on the bad portion of the road. As Damilola recalls the agonising experience, he contemplates relocating from the location.
“We have been living with this bad road for more than nine years now, and you can imagine how many people must have died either due to the sickness contracted on the road or accidents,” says Damilola. “Most times, it is troubling to see the kind of accidents that occur on this road and also how residents complain of the smell they have to compulsorily live with.”
Naomi Divine, 32, had a close shave with death on the road in August.
“On our way back from Katsina road to convey a bride, we had an accident when a truck driver lost control and threw us into an open culvert,” she recalls. “Four of us were severely injured and evacuated on motorcycles to Green Olive Hospital along Sarkin Yaki in Sabon Gari. They could not give us proper treatment. We were referred to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Kano city before we got back on our feet.”
Not many are so lucky. Raphael Abraham, 57, is yet to recover from the death of his third son, Daniel, who died sometime last year when the bridge was full and couldn’t flow because of the dirt that heaped inside it. Alternatively, water finds its way into houses.
“It was about 10 pm when the heavy downpour started,” the grieving father recalls. “It was almost pulling off the roof, little did we know the bridge is already full because the rain had already fallen heavily somewhere our whole house was flooded and Daniel was deeply asleep, we never knew until he drowned and died. His untimely death was a great loss to the family, as he was anticipating to study Architecture at Ahmadu Bello University after scoring 250 in his Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME.”
“It’s disheartening that despite several complaints to apex authorities on the need to repair the bad portions of the road and the bridge that has continued to claim lives, nothing has changed.”
A CURSORY LOOK INTO FUNDS EXPENDED ON THE PROJECT
Findings have shown that the road project in 2016 was awarded at a total cost of N90 million under the Kwankwaso-led administration through the Kano State Ministry of Works. The same project in May 2022, was rewarded at the cost of N150 million by the administration of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje using the same ministry as a conduit. Although, it was specified to which company the contract was awarded.
While the Kano state Government claimed to have spent over N100 billion in three years for the construction of roads across the state, in 2021, it spent N1.5 Billion for the maintenance of roads across the state.
Ibrahim Gafasa, a construction expert, said that “It is a shame that contractors are now the major tool use for the siphoning of public funds, a 15-kilometre road project should not even take up to 7 months in the first instance from when the contractor receives his mobilisation fee,”
He noted that contractors sometimes give excuses after receiving mobilization funds and start foot-dragging on a project for years, forgetting the implication of their action on the general public.
COMMERCIAL DRIVERS, COMMUTERS, RESIDENTS DECRY POOR STATE OF THE ROAD
Commercial drivers and commuters, who spoke with this newspaper, disclosed that their businesses have been crippled by the poor state of the road. Residents of the area, who are mostly private business owners, also lamented the difficulties experienced in running their businesses.
The manager of Royal Tropicana Hotels, Elias Desmond, said the deplorable state of the road is discouraging people from lodging in the hotel. The low patronage, he said, has cast a dark pall on the business and social life in the area.
Christian David, a hair stylist stressed the importance of the road to the development of the entire Kano State, noting that it is a major road linking major businesses. He added that it connects the airport and Dawunu grain market.
“Completing the project will increase the businesses in Kano centra thereby improving the livelihood of the people and enhancing the revenue generation by the government. We hereby call on the government to help us and complete the construction of the road for the smooth running of activities in Kano Central,” he notes.
‘WE HAVE SOME PLANS’ —MINISTRY
Reacting to this paper’s findings, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructural Development, Idris Unguwar Rimi, insists the project has been awarded and will be completed before the year runs out.
The commissioner who spoke through the Director of Procurement, Yahaya Ali, said the ministry is committed to finishing ongoing and abandoned projects in the state.
He explained that “the state government is determined to iron out funding issues with all the contractors and remobilize them to complete all abandoned projects.” On the failed sections that continue to affect the health of students, and claim the lives of motorists, commuters, and residents, Ali promised to officially inform the commissioner to solicit the inclusion of the spots into the National Emergency Funds of the ministry for urgent attention.
He was confident that the dilapidated spots will be repaired before the end of 2022.
This report is done with support from the African Data Hub.