Abuja: Residents groan over area councils’ deplorable roads

Abuja City gate

Good road is one of the most important basic amenities any government – federal, state or local – should provide for its people. And this should not be a big deal for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration to do so. However, ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU in this report notes that contrary to the expectations, the residents still decry the deplorable state of the territory’s roads.

Since the creation of Abuja, as Nigeria’s Capital City in 1976, it has grown tremendously in all dimensions, including road infrastructure. Yet, most of its satellite towns appear to have been left behind in terms of road infrastructure. 

The city is divided into six area councils, namely, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Gwagwalada, Abaji, Kuje, Bwari and Kwali. There are also areas designated as satellite towns. These include Kusaki/Yanga, Kuje, Rubochi, Anagada, Dobi, Gwagwalada, Zuba, Dei-Dei, Karshi, Gosa, Karu, Nyanya, Kubwa, Bwari, Abaji, Kwali. The six area councils are linked to one another by a road network that has been crying for maintenance as the population in the settlements keeps growing by the day.

The satellite town accommodates more people than the city centre. Yet, the roads are mostly in a deplorable state. The terrible state of the road in suburbs within most of these area councils has claimed many lives, made kidnapping an easy task, affecting business activities and has also stalled developments in the satellite towns. 

While the people continue to wail over the deplorable state of the road in these area councils, despite the number of people who reside there, the government seems not bothered, as it continues to focus more on the city centre.

Kuje takes the lead

An investigation by Blueprint Weekend showed that most roads in the Kuje area council are left unattended to. While some have remained abandoned for years, others are filled with potholes, while others are dusty and bumpy because they are not constructed.

Though many Kuje residents described the state of their roads as worrisome, this reporter observed that Kuje is fast-growing and there is an urgent need to dualise the Kuje-Airport Road and fix some bypass roads to decongest traffic during rush hours. Those in dire need of immediate attention include Pegi road, Kuchiyako, Tipper Garage, AA Rano Junction, Secretariat, and Market roads among others to reduce the plight of road users in the area.

A resident of the Kuje, Bright Jephthah Buyabuya, confirmed that many of the roads in the Council are in a deplorable state, begging for urgent attention. Buyabuya in a phone chat with Blueprint Weekend said, “Road network in Kuje area council is in a deplorable state. This has been our major challenge over the years; we find it extremely difficult to assess Kuje town and even Abuja main city.

“Most of the rural dwellers here are farmers, and most especially during rainy seasons they find it difficult to transport the agricultural produce. Aside from some known places in Kuje, there are terrible roads in areas like Daube Ward with over 40 communities; Kwako ward too has very bad roads. These roads have been there for so long and the government has failed to fix them.

“Also, it is because of the poor state of the road, kidnappers are now taking advantage because of the bad nature of the road since you can not move faster with your vehicle; so it makes it easy for these criminals to operate.

“It is very difficult and usually not safe for us to move from one place to another, even from Kuje to the airport. The road is also slim, not in good shape and deserves attention from the government. We appeal for urgent completion of the abandoned construction and rehabilitation of the bad roads.” 

Bwari

Bwari, which is the headquarters of the council, hosts some federal government institutions like the Nigerian Law School (NLS-Abuja Campus) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) headquarters.

While the town has a dual carriageway on its exit corridor, internal roads have remained in a deplorable state. The neglected township roads have persistently caused untold hardship to residents and visitors. Speaking on the development in Bwari area council, Theophilus Chinkudu Tanko described the state of roads in the area council as “pathetic.”

Chinkudu, in an interview with this reporter, noted that roads in Byazhin-Across in Kubwa, Ushafa satellite towns in the Bwari area council are also in a terrible state.

He said, “The state of the road in Bwari area council is pathetic. When you compare the level of concentration on roads At the Abuja city centre with what we have in Bwari and a few other area councils, you will realise that the roads are in a deplorable state.

“The most terrible roads in this area council are in Byazhi, Guluyi, Kubwa, Zuma, Dutse Alhaji and Ushafa among others. The roads are bad, and most difficult to ply through during rainy seasons. Farmers find it difficult to move their produce to the market; students find it difficult to go to school using the road, civil servants and other commuters working in Abuja city centre struggle on daily basis plying these roads to go to their various workplaces. So, the state of the roads in Bwari area council is nothing to write home about.

“This is affecting the economic and social lives of those of us who reside in the Bwari area council. And of course, the bad road also poses security threats. As a result of bad roads, the cost of transportation continues to increase.”

Gwagwalada residents’ lamentations

Gwagwalada area council covers an area of 1,043 km2 and a population of 157,770 at the 2006 Census. 

A resident, Suleiman Ibrahim Barde, noted that most of the internal roads are not motorable because they have been abandoned by government’s contractors.

He told this reporter that, “Actually, most roads in Gwagwalada area council are in bad shape. Though most of the road is under construction, construction work moves at a very slow pace and they don’t work during the dry season, but you will see them on-site during the rainy season.

“Like during this year’s dry season, we have been praying that when rain stopped, either the FCDA, Gwagwalada area council or Satellite Town Development Agency will work on the abandoned road projects, but you will not see any of them now until May then they will appear and create more problems on our roads.”

Barde added  that, “Many roads in Gwagwalada are in bad shape; they are Radio House Market Road, Polaris Bank – Abalaka Road, Park Road Roundabout road among others.

“The terrible state of our roads in Gwagwalada is affecting the lives of people living in the council. Aside from making it a difficult task to access the city centre for our daily businesses, it also affects their social and economic lives.

“We have witnessed many occasions when the FCDA came to clear the bush, with an impression that toads will be constructed within a short period. But, in most cases, such roads are usually abandoned. 

“I appeal to FCDA to come to the side of the residents of Gwagwalada area council, they should know that the area council is one of the largest and without good roads there be no meaningful development. 

“They usually concentrate more on the city centre forgetting the area councils. They should remember that over 70% of people who work in the city centre reside in the area council, especially Gwagwalada and without this road development will be very slow. We appeal that the FCDA should come to our rescue by constructing new roads and rehabilitating the bad roads.

“To open up Federal Capital Territory and bring all-inclusive development. I also want to appeal that the FCT minister should concentrate more on the six area councils where most people reside.”

Kwali, Abaji residents groan

The story is the same in Kwali and Abaji area councils. Some of the residents said that in terms of the road network, it is as if they are not part of the FCT.

A resident of Kwali, Aminu Mohammed, told Blueprint Weekend that many roads in the area were not motorable.

He said, “If you drive around Kwali, you will observe that most of the roads are very bad and we don’t know what plans the government has for the roads. It’s as if they don’t have any plan for us.

“The construction work they started is very slow, while others have been completely abandoned and leaving the road in a terrible state. The Kwali area council appears not to be very functional and we expect the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to intervene.”

A resident of Abaji, who surprisingly asked not to be named in print, complained that most roads in the council were not motorable.

According to him, “Most of the roads in Abaji are not tarred. This makes them impassable, particularly during rainy seasons.”

He, therefore, urged the Satellite Town Development Authority (STDA) to urgently address the situation.

Minister’s assurances

In a reaction, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, acknowledged that some roads in the six area councils were not in good shape and promised to continue to work to improve them. 

She admitted further that there were challenges and “as such there is room for improvement on the general state of the roads.”

The minister, who stated this in a phone interview through her special assistant on media, Austine Elemue, disclosed that numerous projects were on-going and that the ministry “will continue to work to put the roads in proper shape.”

“There are challenges, but there is room for improvement. We can not say all is well with the state of the roads in satellite towns and the six area councils, but then with the funds available, the Minister has promised to continue to work and improve the state of roads within our scope across the six area councils.

“Currently, the STDA can give you the list of numerous projects that are on-going in the six area councils. So the ministry is working.”

FCDA’s disclosures

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has disclosed that 70% of the N612 million proposed for the Area Council Services Secretariat for the 2022 capital budget would be used for infrastructure development in the rural areas.

The mandate, Secretary Area Council Services Secretariat, Ibrahim Dantshoho, made this known during a familiarisation tour of Abaji area council, recently.

He said the Secretariat was looking at N2 billion, considering the need to boost development. According to him, the core mandate of the Secretariat “is to facilitate the developmental efforts at the area council’s level in conformity with the FCT standard of qualitative infrastructure development, empowering rural communities for better lives, and to institute a robust and supervisory framework to effectively reposition the area councils to the next level.”