Plateau Road Remains Abandoned Two Years After Buhari “Commissioned” It
Written by Johnstone Kpilaakaa on September 29, 2021
In 2017, the government of Plateau state budgeted 150 million Naira for the construction of road networks consisting of drainages, earthworks, and asphalt overlays to connect Kabong Satellite Market to Tudun Wada, Mado, and Ikkukumung communities in Jos North area state.
Even though it was reported that this road was one of the projects to be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari during a working visit in 2018, an investigation by UDEME has revealed that the road construction has remained uncompleted due to lack of compensation for the 35 houses that were affected by the construction.
The slow pace of the 6.9 kilometres road project that was awarded to Jolex Construction Company (JCC) has left some residents who spoke to UDEME unsure of the completion as they have adapted to the current dilapidated state of the road amidst the hike in the cost of transportation, health risks posed and other economical challenges.
In July 2021 when this Reporter visited these communities some of the drainages that were constructed at the beginning of the project were degrading and erosion was setting in due to the high flow of water on the graded road, the dust rose to cover the environment each time a vehicle passes by and on rainy days the mud makes transportation difficult with vehicles getting stuck in the mud and passengers falling into the mud on some days.
‘Sitting beside this road every day is quite dangerous to my health because of the dust that comes from the road but I do not have any option because this is where my shop is, I just had to get used to it. Aside from that, when I go to the market to get goods, getting them to this place is usually difficult. Tricyclists avoid using this road and the charge for a motorcycle is expensive and it is riskier’ Juliana Ibi, a trader in the community told UDEME.
Reacting to the hike in the cost of transportation, another resident in the community who declined to say his name said, ‘I have several businesses in the community, on some days like today, I provide transportation for residents with my motorcycle. We (referring to the motorcyclist in the community) increased the transport fare especially because of the cost of maintenance; due to how bad the road is, we spend so much on fixing our bikes’
According to Mrs Ibi who resides adjacent to the construction site of JCC, “Now and then, we see the contractors coming around but we have not seen anything tangible. I learned those houses and others (pointing at the houses marked for demolition) were meant to be compensated to ensure the continuation of the project’
In 2018, Daily Trust reported that the contractor asked the state government to pay 218 million Naira as compensation to the houses that were affected to enable the construction.
‘NO COMPENSATION HAS BEEN PAID YET’
One of the residents affected by the road construction, Danjuma Ishaya who has been a resident in the Angwan Mission – Tudun Wada community for over 30 years said, ‘Early in August we were invited to the Ministry of Urban Development’s office, during the meeting we were told that compensations would be paid but no specific amount was stated. Since then, we have not heard from them: no compensation has been paid yet
‘I have my certificate of occupancy and I will not be willing to give up my space without compensation’, he added.
Angwan Mission is one of the wards in Tudun Wada where the road network is passing through,
Like, Mr Ishaya, other affected landlords and ladies are unsure about the intention of the government and the contractors. ‘When they recently commenced the work again after a long pause, we learnt that they have reduced the number of affected houses to a smaller number, which means that the road will not be as wide as it was in the initial plan. I do not know what they want to do, I will just watch and see’, an affected resident who simply identified herself as Mrs Dalyop told UDEME.
COMPENSATION AND THE LAND-USE ACT.
Through the compulsory acquisition, Dr Akintunde Otubu, a senior lecturer of private and public law at the University of Lagos explained that ‘the government has the power to acquire private rights in a land without the willing consent of the owner or occupant to benefit society in exchange for compensation.’
In Nigeria, ‘Section 28 of the Land Use endows the State with the power to revoke rights of occupancy, while section 29 obliges it to pay compensation for the revoked occupancy rights’.
CONTRACTOR KEEPS MUM
This Reporter contacted Kingsley Okponwa, the executive director of Jolex Construction Company but he declined to make any comments via a phone call conversation. ‘I cannot talk about this over the phone, come to the office’, he said.
When UDEME visited the office, Mr. Okponwa was not on sit, the Secretary who attended to the Reporter said she was not authorised to make any comment, ‘the Director is in the best position to answer you’, she said.
After a reminder SMS that was not replied to, this Reporter called Mr Okponwa again to get his comments, ‘I am currently at the government house, I will call you back when I am done. However, he did not call back as he promised and did not respond to the subsequent SMS that was sent.
‘CONTRACTOR IS BACK TO SITE’
When UDEME contacted the Plateau state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dayyabu Garga he declined to provide detailed information but he said, ‘There was a challenge but it has been overcome because the contractor is back to the site already to continue the work’
This article was published in partnership with UDEME, a social accountability program of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism.