By Victor Gai
One of the infrastructural problems bedevilling Nigeria today is the problem of poor road network like the Numan-Jalingo road. This menace has hindered socio-economic development, heightened insecurity, cut off communication and interaction between communities and claimed a great number of lives.
The condition of our roads have become the undoing of our politicians and subject of campaigns time and time again. The victims of poor road network and the class that bears the burden of rot remain the downtrodden, who don’t have an alternative means of transport.
The situation is not restricted to a particular state, Local Government Area, community or region. The tale of woe is the same all over the country! Coming down to our region, the North East, and to be precise on the Adamawa -Taraba axis, is the only federal road that connects the north-east and the Southern part of the country.
It connects Adamawa and Taraba, and travellers from Gombe, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa also depend on the road to access the south-East. Likewise, passengers going to Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Jos, ply this road.
This particular highway is the ‘legendary’ Numan-Jalingo road, which has become the traveler’s nightmare; an eyesore and quite reprehensible to the idea of responsible governance. It has remained in that state for a long time, unattended to by government and the people’s representative.
It has almost become a jinx and may be affected by a spell that makes everyone avoid it even for those that are supposed to do something about it.
For those coming to Jalingo for the first time through that axis, their fun is suddenly cut short from the savannah sugar plantation or Lafiya Lamurde town in Adamawa state down to Mayolope in Taraba state.
Ordinarily, Numan to Jalingo is a little above 100 km and should last for less than an hour, but due to the nature of the road, it now takes a little above two hours. By the time such passengers get to Jalingo, they are too exhausted and in a bad shape.
On the other hand, for someone going out of Jalingo for the first time, he encounters a shaky journey that discourages him or her for the next two hours or more.
Interestingly, the bad part of the the road does not cover up to 50kms, but why the road has not been fixed for several years despite its crucial nature, is what can not be explained for now. As a matter of fact, for someone who has not been to that road before, this piece would merely be like a child narrating to an adult a horror film he watched for the first time.
The terrible nature of the road has even forced drivers to invent alternative roads in the bush just to make their journey easier. It’s that bad.
Several reasons are however given for the bad state of the road. Some say the road is just part of the rot in infrastructure, which the entire North East have suffered and which has now contributed to the insurgency we are facing.
Others say, it may have been forgotten by government because most politicians and public office holders from either Taraba or Adamawa, take the next available flight in Yola to Abuja or use the New Jalingo airport. They are simply unaware of the horror the people are facing!
Others say, the government knew about the road, but it is lack of the political will. Whatever may be the cause, the people need the government to intervene.
In the spirit of the North-East Rehabilitation Programme for states affected by insurgency, being undertaken by the FG and international partners, it is incumbent on the stakeholders to consider that axis.
Luckily enough, Taraba’s state born entrepreneur and philanthropist, Gen T.Y Danjuma is on the driver’s seat. He would do well to redeem the image of his state by considering the road which welcomes one to the state in the entire plan.
Moreover, another stakeholder in the program, the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, owns a business interest within that axis, and to be precise the former Savannah Sugar Factory and plantation. It is a huge investment that must not be left to the vagaries of the national infrastructure decay.
However, efforts to reach the officials of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, (FERMA), in Yola and Jalingo, to hear what they have to say about the road network was not successful. But the views of many who understand the politics of this matter were that the agency was not living up well to its responsibility as it is supposed.