In this encounter with Yobe State Correspondent, HUSSAINI JIRGI, Gombe’s Works and Infrastructure Commissioner Engineer Shehu Hadi Ahmed speaks on the challenges and successes of the state’s infrastructural development drive
Road infrastructure development appears to be a priority arena in Gombe State. Why?
Under the action plan for the state drawn up by the eleven sector-based committees set up by Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo at the onset of this administration, the programme earmarked for the mandate encapsulated for the Works Ministry in relation to the development of roads infrastructure actually fall into three categories.
We have the development of the Gombe Metropolis township roads being the seat of government, the inter-linkage roads spread across the state which we class under the regional roads network for the state.
Then of course there are the urban centres or semi urban centres defined as local government headquarters and other important towns or settlements within local government areas.
So what the executive governor of our state did was to take up concurrently the development of this infrastructure both in Gombe Metropolis being the seat of government, in the regional road network and in the urban centres at the local government headquarters.
The idea is one: to give a befitting state capital; Gombe is almost becoming like a hub for the North East sub region and the focus of government here is to see to the development of these facilities so as to ease movement within the city; another reason is for safety and security purposes.
This is because we want to have access to all the nooks and crannies, open up corridors in the event of hazards and emergencies, for safety for example in the event of crimes.
Then of course what has become phenomenon now nationwide is this increase in vehicular ownership and this is bringing about more traffic flow on our roads and there is therefore the urgent need to open up these corridors so that we can have alternative routes.
What is the nature of these connections across the state?
For example we are opening up access to the Balanga Dam site, we are opening up access to the water front of the Dadinkowa Dam site, we are also simultaneously opening up access to international livestock market, the produce markets at Maikaho and Kuri. There is also a corridor in Kaltungo local government.
We are also developing the road up to Ture which is off the Yola/Gombe road to Sabon Layi – Awak, to Dogon Ruwa. Dogon Ruwa is a community of mostly traders and farmers; in fact they are migrants mostly from Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states.
The last time our governor was there, he saw the need to extend the road to Gelengu which is just a remote area to the Balanga dam site and this will open up the entire vast agricultural and trading area. Based on the consultation our Governor had and the approval he obtained from the President, we have taken over the development of the Kanawa – Deba – Jagali - to Jauro Gotel road. This is about 54 kilometres of federal roads.
What are the key challenges in executing all this, resource wise?
We understand and appreciate the fact that no matter how hard you try, you are likely going to face the fact that resources constraints are an impediment.
But on our part we are convinced that what we are doing in Gombe, not just in road construction but in all facets like in education, youth empowerment, water and rural development etcetera has the potential to add value in no small measure to our capacity to enhance sources of internally generated revenue.
When we were developing our budget we saw that there is a portion of the budget that needs financing bond and that is exactly what is currently being finalised now. We are exploring avenues for project financing in a way that will give us leverage to ameliorate over a long period of time without problems.
What is the outlook of the road coverage in Gombe Metropolis for example?
Immediately the Governor settled down to business in August last year he awarded the first phase of the 12 township roads, covering a distance of about 17 kilometres, then he now added as an additional work to this contract another 19 township roads to this bringing a total of 31 township roads within the Gombe Metropolis and this 19 roads are about another 17 kilometres which gives us about 34 point something kilometres within Gombe township as the first phase of development.
Later the Governor supplemented that with a regional road network in about five locations: Bajoga – Ashaka about ten kilometres, then there is Akko – Bula – Abuja, (when I say Abuja there is a town we call Abuja here) is another ten kilometres stretch to be developed freshly that later it was extended because there is a segment from Abuja – Bula to Kwami additional 13 kilometres surface dressed which the Governor now directed that it should be provided with asphalt, a total of 23 kilometres and work has almost been completed. The last time the Vice President was in Gombe state he drove along that road.
Are these grounds covered restricted to the regional roads network? What about the other segments you made mentioned of?
The ones I have mentioned are in the first priority areas. There are also the local government township roads. More than fifty kilometres of such roads spread across various local governments are ongoing with many of them already in use.
These township roads have the advantage of being finished in asphalt, with concrete line frames and street lights. We have sidewalks along our dualised corridors but the single carriageways there are no sidewalks for now. It is not an oversight. We intend to do that as the places grow.
How do you intend to maintain this road infrastructure in view of our poor maintenance culture?
Just like the federal government has the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency FERMA, in Gombe too we are following suit. As thegovernor immediately he started work on roads development he sent a bill to the State Assembly for the establishment of the state roads maintenance Agency and this bill has been passed, right now he has assented.
The Agency will be under the coordination of the Works and Infrastructure Ministry. The setting up of a state roads maintenance agency allows us to assess the roads Funds from the federal government which will normally come like a grant to states.