Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Nigerians, especially those resident in the North, have expressed concern over the pace of on-going reconstruction works on the Kaduna-Zaria Expressway. They said the diversion of motorists on account of the on- going works has led to accidents and in many cases, untimely deaths.
The rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway began in 2018. The Abuja-Kaduna axis of the road enjoyed accelerated attention the Kaduna-Zaria axis has been treated with laxity and less care by the Federal Government.
Some staffers of road traffic agencies described the highway as one of the busiest roads in the country, indicating that the highway is a major route to many cities in the region and towns in West Africa.
A staff of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), acknowledged that they have been recording higher number of distress calls on the highway. He explained that the road has become even busier with traffic as a result of the activities of criminals on the alternative roads to Kaduna metropolis:
“There is the need for the Federal Government to speed up the work on the road. Motorists too should take precautions and make the best of the situation, pending the completion.
“We are not happy with what is happening on that road. I don’t have the figure of those that have died on that road, but it is not a pitiable story at all because we receive distress calls often.
“The road diversion is contributory to the recorded accidents on that road. This is not the first time or the only place that a road is being diverted. So, road users need to learn to manage what is available and inevitable.
“If you ask me, is it not better to exercise patience on the wheel than to rush only to put one’s and other road users’ lives in danger? We have been preaching against over speeding and dangerous overtaking, especially by commercial drivers who want to make return trips and smile home.
“These people should know that this road is narrower and not dualised at some point, which means extra-caution is required as one drives. We are saddened whenever we visit accident scenes to see people in their pool of blood and in some cases, burnt beyond recognition.”
Kaduna State chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Stephen Akau Kache, disclosed: “Many travellers have suffered untold hardship on this road. Motorists are exposed to enormous risks due to these blockage and several diversions put in place by the construction company handling the project.
“The blockage and diversion was responsible for loss of man-hour due to longer traffic as well as several accidents, some of which have led to varying degrees of injuries, tragic death and loss of property.”
He recalled with deep pains the Monday, June 10, 2019, accident on the road that claimed the life of Professor Adeola Abosede Orogade, of the Department of Paediatric, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria.
He appealed to the Federal Government to deploy a joint task force of security operatives on the road to ensure strict adherence to traffic regulations:
“Government should consider the deployment of cranes and other equipment at strategic locations along the road that could be used to extract victims who are trapped in vehicles as well establish emergency medical units in strategic locations.
“Government should prevail on the contractors to adequately mobilise and complete the construction in good time. The number of diversions on the road should be minimised to one at a time.
“We believe that the reconstruction of the road is a laudable initiative, all efforts must be put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property of people plying the road.”
A commercial bus driver, Baba Ali, noted that work on the road is taking a longer time than expected: “We demand a speedy completion of the work. I have been driving from Kano to Kaduna for more than 25 years and I have seen a lot of issues on the road. Apart from poor road signs, there are dangerous ditches on that road, which have led to several accidents, especially by motorists who may not be that familiar with the road.
“We were very happy about a year ago when Julius Berger started working on the road. We never thought that it would take this long before the work would be delivered. In fact, we thought the work would be completed before this year’s rains started.”