As contractors race to restore the collapsed bridge linking Jalingo, the Taraba State capital with Wukari at Bembel Village in Gassol local government area of the state. ANDREW OJIH (Jalingo) writes on the hardship commuters and motorists go through on daily basis on the vital economic route of the state.
Most as children learned the importance of bridges through the nursery rhyme ‘London Bridge is falling down!’ No doubt, the recent collapse of bridges along Wukari -Jalingo Road at Bembel Village in Gassol local government area Taraba State after a heavy downpour has become a pain for commuters and motorists who ply the vital economic road on daily basis.
As the situation bites harder, commuters told our Correspondent that a journey that should ordinarily not take more than two hours thirty minutes now takes over five hours. The collapse of the bridge has brought untold hardship and serious gridlock to transporters and commuters that make use of the road.
The road being the major access link from Taraba State to the eastern part of the country, has affected the economic activities of state in no small measure.
However, the ongoing repairs of the bridge which began about a few weeks ago, have greatly worsened the hardship of both commuters and transporters.
It is distressing that the repairs of the bridge linking not only Taraba State but also Adamawa, and Benue States to the eastern part of the country with economic relevance and implication, may take a long time before finishing, going by the level and pace of work going on.
Motorists plying the road who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday, lamented the slow pace of work, fearing that the end of their sufferings may still be far.
The road users added that the development had caused them untold hardship as they had missed appointments, spent longer hours in traffic and burnt more fuel than usual.
They expressed displeasure at the gridlock and urged the federal contractor working on the bridge to expedite action on the project.
A motorist, Mr Uche Bendy said, “I understand that they are fixing the bridge, but they have to be fast about it. I also drive all way from Enugu to Taraba and the experience on this road, especially this few months has been frustrating. A lot of time is wasted while struggling to cross the bridge and I use more fuel when there is traffic jam. We can’t just continue like this.”
A taxi driver, Agyo Bafa, decried the slow pace of work on the road, saying the government and the contractor were at fault.
He said, “I can’t blame the contractor alone for that because I don’t know the arrangement between company that is fixing the bridge and the government. Maybe they were not adequately paid to do the job.”
A truck driver, Paul Ankuri while speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday on the condition of the bridge, said the collapsed bridge has become a death trap to those plying the road.
According to him, the negative impact of motorists not having access to the bridge has become overbearing, as they now visit mechanics on a daily basis.He explained that motorists and commuters complained that hoodlums take advantage of the collapsed bridge to attack them.
“It is God that has been guiding us. Any day we decide to embark on a journey on this road; we have our hearts in our mouth. The state of the bridge is just horrible.
“Our vehicles are wearing out rapidly because of the condition of the bridge. On every trip, you are forced to go to your mechanics for one problem or the order. This is bad. Whatever we make goes back to the repairing of the vehicles, making it difficult to take care of our domestic responsibilities,” he lamented.
Recently, the federal government ordered a contractor to repair the bridge to enable the people of the state enjoy movement.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, gave the directive in a statement by the director of Information at the ministry, Theodore Ogaziechi.
The bridge, which links Jalingo, the state capital, to Wukari and further into Benue State, collapsed during a downpour in the area.
Fashola directed the federal contractor on that axis to mobilise immediately to the site and commence emergency remedial works in order to normalise the flow of traffic in the area.
He also advised motorists to use the alternate route through Jalingo – Garba Cheda – Bali – Takum – Katsina-Ala.
Meanwhile, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, has recently deployed Road Marshals from Mutum Biyu Unit command to divert, control and ease traffic on that route