Monday, October 3, 2022

INVESTIGATION: Tales of anguish, death, trail abandoned Garko-Kibiya road in Kano

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Years after Kwanar Garko-Kibiya road was awarded and slated for completion in 12 months, the road has been abandoned. In this report, Rabiu Musa, takes a deep dive into the reasons for the abandonment, and negative impact on communities along the corridor.

Construction activities at the popular Kwanar Garko-Kibiya road located in Kano South Senatorial District has been abandoned for about 5 years without tangible work on ground. The abandoned road, which connects over 125 communities, has become a nightmare for commuters and motorists culminating in the death of many road users and residents of communities along the corridor.

The affected communities along the corridor are mostly agrarian, with many farmers relying on road to transport farm produce to the markets. The communities are Unguwar Madaki, Bara-Bare, Durba, Tashan Nuhu, Rafin Kuka, Fammar and Konau.

Others include, Fantin, Gorawa, Gidan Bare-bari, Unguwar Gayi, Buda, Nariya, Kadigawa and Chalbo village, Audinga, and Gujiya.

A canter that was involved in an accident that led to the death of 7 people.
A canter that was involved in an accident that led to the death of 7 people.

Findings by this newspaper has revealed a surge in accidents, deaths and injuries to residents and commuters plying the road due to the failure of a large portion of the 34.5km road. Relatives and victims of those involved in various forms of accidents attributed the bad state of the road as the reason behind their predicaments.

Shamsuddeen Sule, 27, resides in Kibiya. He nearly lost his life in an auto accident while riding his motorcycle on the bad portion of the road. Recalling the agonizing experience, Sule said when he lost control of the motorcycle after entering into a pothole, he collided with an oncoming vehicle.

Scars on Shamsuddeen Sule's head.
Scars on Shamsuddeen Sule’s head.

“I only woke up and saw myself on a hospital bed, where I spent almost five months before I was discharged. I have the scars all over my body including the middle of my head and hands where I got some stitches. This has limited me in some ways, because I can’t do laborious work with my hands any longer,” Mr Sule said.

Mariya Ibrahim, 32, had a close shave with death on the road in August last year.

“On our way back from Katsina state to convey a bride, we had an accident when a truck driver lost control and threw us into an open culvert. Four of us were severely injured and evacuated on motorcycles and rushed to Kibiya Primary Health Care. 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,” she said.

Not many are so lucky. Imam Haruna, 57, from Garko LGA, is yet to recover from the death of his third son, Salisu, who died in a fatal crash on the road sometimes in April 2020.

“I was told that he had a head-on collision with a Sharon vehicle while riding his brand new motorcycle and trying to avoid a big pothole on the road. His untimely death was a great loss to the family, as he was anticipating to study medicine at Ahmadu Bello University after scoring 277 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 that has continued to claim lives, nothing has changed,” Mr Haruna lamented.

The Kwanar Garko-Kibiya highway project

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing awarded the contract for the construction of the Kwanar Garko to Kibiya to IAC Allied Technical and Company with a commencement date of 12 June, 2017 at the cost of N3.949bn.

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A picture of the contract sign board
A picture of the contract sign board

The construction of the 34.5km road was billed to last for 12 months but 5 years on, the contractor has only completed 3km of a single asphaltic lane and 2 km of earthwork in the entire stretch of the road, despite receiving an initial mobilization fee of N564m from the Federal Government.

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A financial progress document made available to this newspaper from sources within the Federal Ministry of Works, revealed that the total amount received by the contractor as of April 2022 is N762.79m.

The contractor, however, thinks the delay is justified. Speaking in a phone interview with DAILY NIGERIAN, one of the directors of IAC Allied and Technical Construction Company, Okorie Ifeanyi, said the budgetary allocation for the project has been abysmal right from the commencement of the project.

“You cannot award a project of N3,949,093,995.00 and continue to allocate N100 million yearly in the budget and expect the contractor to collect a loan from the bank and complete the project for you. The annual N100 million budgeted by the Federal Government each year for the project is inadequate,” Mr Ifeanyi said.

Mr Ifeanyi said that the project would continue to proceed at snail’s speed until Federal Government allocate adequate funds for the construction to continue.

“Let the Federal Government allocate N1bn in the annual budget for the project and see how we will fast track the construction within the shortest time possible.”

He further added that his company was ready to work with the Federal Government to conduct a review of the contract sum bearing in mind the current rate of inflation in the country and reconcile issues for the project to continue.

A picture of the federal controller of works when he paid a visit to Audinga spot
A picture of the federal controller of works when he paid a visit to Audinga spot

A public search on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, revealed that the company, IAC Allied and Technical Construction Company was incorporated in Abuja, Nigeria on 8 June, 2011, with registration number 958516.

The company, said to be inactive on the CAC website, has three directors on its board namely, Okorie Clement Ifeanyi, Ngozi Clement Okorie, and Joel Uchenna Clement Okorie.

This newspaper, however, could not independently establish if the company was inactive when the contract under reference was awarded by Federal Government.

A cursory look into funds expended on the project

Ibrahim Gafasa is an expert in the construction industry. In an interview, Mr Gafasa who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Gafasa Construction and Engineering Company said that, “with the mobilization fee and the subsequent releases to the contractor which stands at N762,794,523,58, at least 25 percent of the road project should have been done in the first 6 months from the date of mobilization.”

He noted that contractors sometimes give excuses after receiving mobilization funds and start foot dragging on a project for years, especially when the project undertaken is in billions of naira. He added that government must show seriousness in tracking funded projects to avoid abandonment by the contractor.

He, therefore, advised the contractor to use his “Engineer’s Certificate”, which is the payment approval from the federal government to seek a soft loan and return to the project site. Mr Gafasa said, “perhaps this level of commitment could fast track the inclusion of more funds in the budget by the federal government to complete the project”.

Statistics paints a grim picture

Exclusive data obtained by DAILY NIGERIAN from the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Kano State Command, revealed that majority of the accidents recorded on the road are often caused by the dilapidated state of the road.

For instance, the data showed that at least seven people died in an accident at a failed spot along Audinga axis of the road in November last year. The accident happened when a truck with two passengers collided with a commercial car carrying 11 passengers. Five victims died on the spot while the two others died later at Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital, Kano city.

Checks at Kibiya Primary Health Care, PHC, revealed that an average of 205 people, mostly youths between the age of 18 to 35 and young women between 15 to 32 years old are involved in different categories of accidents every month, especially during the rainy season. Further checks showed that most of the accidents occurred at the Audinga axis, a notorious spot that has claimed lives.

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According to a nurse at Kibiya PHC, Amina Shawwal: “The dilapidated road has become a death trap with many lives lost due to the bad state of the road.”

Ms Shawwal said that the medical facility had witnessed an increase in the rate of fatal accidents because potholes on the road are often filled with water after a heavy rainfall and difficult for unsuspecting drivers to dodge.

“There is the story of a young woman from Durba village, Lawisa Mustapha, who came to our health facility in 2020 for a health-related complaint but was unable to return home alive. She was preparing for her wedding. She left the hospital with her maid of honour but was brought back to the hospital barely an hour after they left due to an accident between the motorcycle conveying her and a car who lost control after entering into a pothole while on high speed. We tried saving her life but she gave up the ghost.”

A visit to Durba village by this reporter to speak with the father of the late Mustapha, paints an agonizing scenario. Recalling the event, Mustapha’s father who could not hold back his tears said that his daughter was full of life before embarking on the journey to the health clinic which is barely 2 km away.

“The agony of losing my daughter and the reason for her untimely death is an indelible memory until the very end,” he said.

In the same vein, a medical doctor who works at Nariyya dispensary, along the axis, said road accidents occasioned by the poor state of the road accounts for about 70 percent of the overall deaths recorded in the facility.

The medical doctor who craved anonymity because he is not in a position to speak, said: “The gravity of the conditions most victims brought into the facility are usually beyond our capacity and we always refer them to the Murtala Muhammad Specialists hospital in Kano city.

“Another sad story is that of a young solar engineer identified as Shamsuddeen Sule, 26, who was involved in an accident along Garko. Despite our efforts the patient’s condition degenerated into mental illness after he was inflicted with a head trauma from the accident,” the doctor said.

Commercial drivers, commuters, residents decry the 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 farmer, also lamented the difficulties experienced in conveying agricultural produce from their farms to various markets in Kano city.

Usman Alhaji is the chairman of the Rice Farmers Association in Garko. He said, despite the loss of lives occasioned by the poor state of the road, the dire need to convey large farm produce to Kano city has become a nightmare to farmers in the area. According to him, the dilapidated state of the road has made life worse for farmers and communities along the stretch of the road adding that it has inevitably led to the increase in the cost of goods and commodities.

Like Usman Alhaji, Amina Rano, a commuter who regularly plies the road decried the bad state of the road.

Ms Rano said: “The road is in its worse shape, especially during the rainy season. Public transport would not even attempt to take you through the road, you will be dropped off on the main road and you will have to find alternatives on the muddy road to your destination. It’s always a terrible experience thinking of going out because of the bad state of the road.”

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Sani Usaini, a resident of Garko said, the motorists plying the road have to divert to a long route when it’s the rainy season particularly between July and August because the road becomes impassable during that period. He said notorious spots along the axis includes, Audinga, Fammar, Chalbo and Garko.

“It has now become a regular feature and most of the residents will rather go through Kano-Wudil road, a long distance, than to follow this so called dilapidated shortcut when traveling to Durba, Garko, Kibiya and other markets along the corridor.”

Bello Durba, a farmer from Durba village, stressed the importance of the road to the development of the entire Kano South senatorial zone adding that it connects agrarian and trading communities in the axis to the state capital, Kano.

“Completing the project will increase the businesses in Kano South 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 South,” he said.

Works and housing ministry reacts

Reacting to the findings of this report, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, attributed insufficient budget allocation as the rationale that forced the contractor out of the site.

The Minister who spoke through the Federal Controller of Works in Kano State, Yahaya Ali, an engineer, said the federal government is committed to finishing ongoing and abandoned projects in the country.

He explained that the federal government is determined to iron out funding issues with all the contractors and remobilize them to complete all abandoned projects.

Furthermore, he said that although the Kwanar-Garko-Kibiya road is a state road, the federal government intervened to rehabilitate it and facilitate the growth of socio-economic activities in rural communities. He assured that the federal government will do all it takes to reach out to the contractor for the continuation of the project.

In an interview with this newspaper, Kabiru Gaya, the senator representing Kano South who facilitated the project, said he has done his best to ensure the project is speedily completed.

“I facilitated the construction of Kwanar-Garko road when I was the chairman, Senate Committee on Works, to ease the movement along the axis including the transportation of agricultural produce from the agrarian communities to Kano city.

“Being the facilitator of the project, I have done everything possible to ensure the its timely completion as at when due. As a lawmaker, I am not in a position to pay the contractor to work. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government. Even the contractor under reference, I was not the one that recommended him for the project, it was the Federal Government and it is purely their affair.

“My part is to lobby for the inclusion of the project in the budget and continuous payment of the contractor to complete the work and that was what I have been doing for a long time,” he said.

On the notorious spots that continue to claim the lives of motorists, commuters, and communities within the axis, the lawmaker promised to officially inform the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and solicit the inclusion of the spots into the National Emergency Funds of the ministry.

He was confident that the dilapidated spots will be repaired before the end of 2022.

*This report is funded by MacArthur Foundation through Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism, WSCIJ

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