The hope of the communities along the Apo-Karshi road in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has risen with the glimpse of works on the very important road linking Abuja city with rural communities close to the nation’s capital, even after eight years of work. AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE (Abuja) visited the site and reports.
In what appears to be a growing embarrassment to the federal government, the Apo-Karshi road contract, awarded in 2010 to open up Abuja and its surroundings to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)’s rural suburbs, is still yet to be completed, eight years after.
The 15km road has had its fair share of controversies and problems that have outlived successive administrations in the FCT, leaving the rural communities hoping for a completion that will give them access to Karshi and other towns from the city of Abuja.
The project, is also expected to ease off traffic on the busy Abuja-Keffi highway, notorious for high traffic, when it is eventually completed.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recently took a tour of the road to Chorin Bisa, where the single lane road, so far constructed, terminated with some signs of construction going on in the hills ahead.
From Waru to Wassa, our correspondent saw contractors who were awarded the Apo-Wasa dual carriageways contract, on site working.
The Apo-Wasa road contract, awarded in 2017 by the FCT, was expected to have been completed within a 12-month timespan at the cost of about N8.62 billion.
The FCT administration is said to be considering other strategies for completing the other part of the expressway measuring 52km, ending at the Abuja-Lokoja highway. One of the strategies, includes a Public-Private-Partnership initiative with interested investors.
On full scope development, this segment of OSEX, would run through Wasa District and Kuje Town, before ending up at Gwagwalada.
But from Wasa through Madalla to Chorin Bisa, which was part of the original Apo-Karshi road project, is a single lane road constructed by a local construction firm.
While the Apo-Wasa road appears to enjoy formidable presence of construction equipment, the Wasa-Chorin Bisa end of the Apo-Karshi road, has no indication other than what was constructed in the past, which terminated up the hills before Karshi.
Residents, who spoke to our correspondent on the solo tour said, they have been inundated with promises from government over the project, which they said, is taking too long to complete.
Mr Reuben Bala, seen riding a motorcycle and heading to Karshi through the bumpy road, said he and his community members have no choice than to use the graded road, which is usually flooded, to Karshi as they have no other way than what is available on ground.
Bala, who offered to lead LEADERSHIP Weekend’s team through the isolated rough part, was disappointed as the vehicle conveying the team got stuck and had to beat a retreat to avoid further damage.
“Some people still manage to access Karshi through this rough road, though it’s challenging but they still make it.
“This road project is very important to us because it will save us lots of time and energy going through the Abuja-Nyanya-Jikwoyi axis to get to Karshi. But the construction on this road is just too slow,” Bala lamented.
A local farmer, Bitrus Taminu, said the road is very important to the communities on the road axis. He stated that the single lane from Wasa to Chorin Bisa has changed the economy of the villages it passes through.
“We are eager to see the contractor open our community to Karshi. We were told that the hills ahead are posing a challenge. We hope that they will succeed soon in connecting the road across the hills to Karshi,” he said.
The inability to complete the road project has cut off the access road to a rural primary healthcare centre in Chorin Bisa, which has no clear access road.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend team managed to find its way to the clinic, not a single health personnel was seen in the clinic even when the facility is fully furnished and open for operations.
Meanwhile, the coordinator, Satellite Town Development Department (STDD), Hon Ishako Tanko Yamawo, has said the Apo-Karshi road project will be completed before the end of the year.
The public relations officer of the department, Meeme Felicia, in a statement recently, quoted the coordinator as saying the contractors on the project, will soon complete the road so as to ease the traffic gridlock along the Keffi-Nyanya-Karu corridor.
He said the portion from Karshi to Takoshara, is already free to road users though it has not been tarred with asphalt.
Yamawo, assured that uncompleted projects would soon be completed while stating that Karshi dam contract is still the challenge because of the high cost, but STDD has paid all provided in the 2017 statutory budget.
LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt that the FCT minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has given the department a marching order to complete the Apo-Wasa-Karshi road, without further delay.
The communities along the Apo-Karshi are eager to witness the reality of the much-awaited road, even as they beacon on the FCT administration to fulfil its promise of putting an end to the protracted road project.
Some of the residents however, commended the effort of the FCT minister, Muhammad Bello and the APC-led federal government for remembering their plights in returning contractors to sight.
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