By Nick Dugba
Against the backdrop of the recent accident in River Donga in Sardauna LGA of Taraba state which claimed several lives, the Taraba state House of Assembly has called on the Federal Government to construct a Bailey bridge across River Donga to link the people of Mbamnga constituency with the rest of Taraba state.
A Matter of Urgent Public Importance, sponsored by:
- Rt. Hon. Abel Peter Diah, PDP, Mbamnga constituency,
- Bashir Mohammed, APC, Nguroje constituency and
- A.A Jugulde, APC, Gembu constituency, read during plenary Monday.
They said the absence of a bridge across the River Donga near its source is responsible for the constant loss of lives and property especially when the river floods during the rainy season as evidenced during the recent boat mishap that claimed the lives of four people including a former driver to our Speaker, Rt. Hon Peter Abel Diah.
The House, therefore, resolved as follows:
- To urge the Executive branch of the Taraba state government to as a matter of necessity and urgency invite the Nigerian Army Mechanical Engineering Department, to construct a Bailey bridge across River Donga along Gembu – Ngea road to connect the people of Mbamnga constituency with the rest of Taraba state and Nigeria at large.
- Direct the Executive Arm to send an SOS message to the relevant Federal authorities highlighting the dangers posed in the absence of a bridge across River Donga along the Gembu – Ngea Federal Government road.
After presenting the matter, Hon A.A Jugulde moved the motion, while Hon. Mohammed Mubarak, APC, Bali constituency, seconded.
Arguing for the case, Bashir Mohammed, APC, Nguroje constituency, said the construction of a military bridge would help a lot and that the time was now considering the danger posed by the season. He added that given the Rescue Mission of the present government in the state, ‘no rescue is as important as saving the lives of people.’
However, in his contribution, Hon. Charles Maijankai, PDP, Karim Lamido constituency, observed that supposing people did not die in the incident, the House may not have considered building a bridge. He, therefore, called for a proactive measure to be taken by constructing a dam in the area to capture the river and reduce the pressure of water to lower the risk.
Other members also bore their minds on the risks involved in the river having had first-hand experience.
Speaker Goes Down History
The Speaker, Peter Abel Diah, in whose constituency the accident happened and who was directly affected, lamented that Sardauna LGA, which was hitherto part of northern Cameroon was created by the Plebiscite of 1962. He revealed that the people of the area reluctantly joined Nigeria because of the promises made to them which unfortunately was not fulfilled until 1992.
He added that by Resolution 1608 of the United Nations, a Referendum could be held after 20 years and that the people could have evoked the Section for a Referendum in 1982 to opt out of the Federation, but instead chose not to because of the love they have for Nigeria.
To paint the gory picture, he said if the representative from Gembu decided to call for a Town Hall meeting with his constituents, people would be denied access and that despite the proximity of the place to the Republic of Cameroon, the people prefer to deal with Nigeria.
He, therefore, appealed to the House Committee on Judiciary to enact a Law that would criminalize overloading across the river to avoid accidents of such nature.
The House then unanimously adopted the matter with all the prayers while the Speaker directed the Clerk of the House, Ismailu Ukwen Tentason, to communicate to the Executive Governor on the new development for implementation.
A one minute silence was observed for those who died in the recent boat mishap.
It would be recalled that recently in Sardauna LGA of Taraba state, a boat carrying nine passengers, capsized on the River Donga which cascades down the Mambilla Plateau.
As a result, four of the victims drowned. One out of them was discovered after a search, but the three others are yet to be found. However, the other five were rescued, out of which two were able to swim across the river by themselves including a former Chairman of the Council, Dr. Jedua.
According to a reliable source, the cause of the accident was overloading as it was learned the operators of the boat took nine passengers in addition to motorcycles in a boat that can only carry four passengers.