Growing up, I got to know the Obollo Afor-Otukpo-Markurdi route as the major route going to Northern Nigeria from the East. This expressway is known as the A3 expressway. (I didn’t know expressways in Nigeria had proper nomenclature and codes) According to wikipedia,
“The A3 highway is a highway in Nigeria. It runs generally north from Port Harcourt through Aba, Umuahia, Okigwe, Enugu, Ngwo, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi and Potiskum thence east via Damaturu, Maiduguri to the border with Cameroon at Gambaru. The 50-kilometre (31 mi) continuation through Cameroon connects to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.”
Of interest is the stretch from Otukpa-Ugbokolo-Otukpo. I have had the opportunity to travel this route multiple times in the past, between 2005 & 2008. At that time, the road could still be considered an expressway albeit with a few bad patches. Nothing prepared me for the condition in which I met the road on Tuesday 18th September 2012. I made the mistake of opting to take that route to Makurdi from Enugu and I have this testimony to share.
The trip which was expected to take 3 (three) hours took the better part of 7 (seven) hours. Vast sections of the road were not motorable. A stretch over 30km was so bad that traffic is now diverted into Ugbokolo town, a town in the area, to by-pass the length. Beyond this bypass, there is no shortcut so motorists have to drive through the messy road at an average speed of 20Km per hour. It is almost impossible to describe with words the current dilapidated nature of this once popular expressway and I hope the pictures below will give a fair idea.
Importance of the A3 Expressway
- The A3 expressway is the major route from the East to Gboko, Zak Ibiam, Katsina-Ala, Makurdi, Lafia, Jalingo, Yola and generally the North.
- Nigeria is by far the world’s largest producer of yams, accounting for over 70–76 percent of the world production. Benue State accounts for up to 40% or more of Nigeria’s yam Production.
- Dangote Gboko Cement plant with a production capacity of 4million metric tonnes per annum lies beyond this route.
I wondered, why has this road been allowed to decay to this point? Is it
- that these people have no representation in government
- that the state is so poor they allow such an important road to be completely damaged without repair?
- that the road leads to nowhere of significance and therefore is not priority
It struck me that none of the above can be correct. The state governor was recently awarded a National Honor for service to Nigerians, isn’t this what he was elected to do? Probably not, since its a Federal road and outside his purview.
At the National level, the Senators and Members of the House of Reps from this area would be the ones to advocate for the repair of the road. Ironically, this road is in the Nigerian Senate Presidents senatorial zone and actually leads to his home town of Otukpo. The whole area is his constituency. As the longest serving senator (over 12years) and the number one representative of his people, purported to receive N1.6 Billion annually as constituency allowance this is not what you expect to see in his backyard.
The senate presidents constituency, Benue South, comprises the following LGAs ADO, AGATU, APA, OBI, OGBADIBO, OHIMINI, OJU,OKPOKWU, OTUKPO. The section of this road that is in view sits squarely within this constituency. If the government cannot fix the road, he should be the one to agitate that on their behalf.
Given the massive importance of the road economically and otherwise to the nation as well as to the industries established in the area, it is imperative that the Federal and State governments repair this road to the highest standards given the heavy duty vehicles that would be plying the route when completed.
Also I would expect the Dangote Group to lobby the National Assembly or their friends in government to get the road fixed the same way they would lobby if they wanted concessions on imports or other government controlled facilities.
Finally it behooves on us to speakout on issues that concern us else attention may never be drawn to them and solutions will never come. A number of state governors are planning to to build airports even if they have no traffic and I wonder if this is to mask the neglect of the highways in the state. Our Senators and Reps go to Abuja living in maximum splendor while the roads to their homes have lost every grain of coal tar. We should look at these issues and in honesty decide who we vote into office.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.