The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has been battling with a certain road project for nearly a decade and had raised the hope of residents several times only to dash it. CALEB ONWE reports
Contract for the 13.25 kilometer Apo-Karshi road was awarded in 2011. The N6.4 billion project was a response to the need for an alternative route out of a troubling traffic nightmare.
Residents and commuters, who come into Abuja from the neighbouring Nasarawa State on daily basis, face excruciating pains, caused by the traffic gridlock on the AYA-Nyanya -Mararaba Expressway. Inside Abuja’s check showed that a great percentage of workers in Abuja, live in the satellite towns and border communities in Nasarawa State.
The Apo-Karshi road project was therefore considered as a divine answer to the tearful prayers of the distressed people, who had hoped for a less traffic congested route.
However, the hope of having an escape route out of the terrible traffic has remained a mirage for about 10 years. On January 26, 2016, Minister of the FCT, Mallam Muhammad Bello, who had just resumed office, visited the Apo-Karshi road project site to assess the extent of work done there. During the visit, the Minister expressed shock over what he saw.
He equally lampooned government officials who have being supervising the project. Inside Abuja’s investigation showed that as at that time, about N2.3 billion out of the N6.4billion had been paid to the contractors without any commensurate job done.
The minister, who was visibly furious over the situation, condemned the negligence of the contractor and government officials who had been supervising the project.
He was quoted to have said that the much talked about Apo/ Karshi road projects, expected to ease the reoccurring nightmarish traffic gridlock on the Abuja/Keffi Expressway, was an “abstract construction” leading to nowhere.
“I’m delighted to visit and see for myself the very popular Apo – Karshi road which had been very much talked about. I have seen an abstract construction from nowhere to nowhere, a sign of what has been wrong with us as a people. I am very disappointed.
“The construction of the road would be the solution to the traffic gridlock on Nyanya and Karu road, leading into the city. I don’t understand how it will take the entire engineers in the FCDA and an upcoming contractor like this one up to four years to construct a 13 kilometre road. It’s an embarrassment, a shame to us all.
“Having heard all, I weep for our situation; the contractor was initially unwilling to handle the project.
The project had no design; it was not designed to Apo from Karshi initially but was initially designed from Karshi to Wassa community,” Bello lamented.
That visit and reactions of the Minister rekindled the hope of the residents on the project. But after another four years, the road project has not been completed as expected. Just last week, the minister raised the hope of residents once again concerning the delivery of the road project when he addressed State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
The Minister said: “The Karshi- Apo road is a project that should have been delivered by now. One of the main challenges faced on that road has to do with error in the design whereby, a huge rock outcrop on the alignment of the road corridor became very difficult to be able to arrange. “But we are very happy to say that it is now almost taken care of.
I believe that within a few months’ time, hopefully, before the onset of the rains this year, that road would be open. “Already, a portion of that road which links Tundun Wada on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway via old and new Karshi is now very motorable because of the bridge constructed there by the Ecological Fund, which was commissioned about a month ago.
“I believe this road would help on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway particularly the portion from the military formation right to Nyanya, which I’m sure you are aware the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing are working on. It’s been widened and all the alignments for the road proper have been graded.”
These reassuring words notwithstanding, residents have expressed pessimism that this might be another attempt to hoodwink the public. A number of factors, ranging from unprofessional road design, paucity of funds and COVID-19 pandemic interruption have been blamed for not delivering the job.
These excuses seem unacceptable to residents and the already distressed commuters, who have accused government of insensitivity. T
hey said that the snail pace at which Apo-Karshi road project has been handled has brought upon them the reality of what the holy book meant, when it said that “hope that is deferred makes the heart sick.” Engr. Benson Chinatu, a civil engineer, who said he had followed the Apo-Karshi road project from the beginning, told Inside Abuja that the excuses on why the job has not been delivered were not tenable.
Chinatu, who also claimed to have been executing public projects in Abuja for the past 25 years, alleged that the Apo-Karshi road project was awarded by the then administration but not with the intention of completing it.
“It was one of those projects that those closest to the corridor of power got as a reward of loyalty to government. It was meant to siphon funds and be abandoned,” he said.
The minister’s reassurance, which was hinged on the completion of the road before this year’s rainy season begins, did not go down well with curious residents and commuters.
Indeed, it has cast a serious shadow of doubt on the minister’s promise. Some residents said that going by the latest weather forecast from the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), early rains may come in two months’ time.
There are doubts that if the slow pace of work at the construction site remained constant, there would be any guarantee that the project can be completed with the new timeline.
According to some residents, who are familiar with the terrain, the imposing rock formation on the road corridor which has remained one of the obstacles to the project may not be completely evacuated with so much ease.