Residents of Tulu-tama and Dutsen Zaki communities in Bauchi State recently trooped out enmasse to witness the inauguration and handing over ceremony of the erosion, flood control and road improvement works executed for them by government. CHIKA OKEKE reports.
The Tulu-tama village in Toro local government area in Bauchi State is mainly populated by farmers who produce maize in large quantities, beans, soybeans, groundnut and sorghum, including the rearing of livestock like goats, cows, chickens and among others.
Irrespective of their contributions to the economy of Nigeria, the locals lacked basic amenities especially roads that would facilitate the transportation of agricultural produce from one State to another. This paucity of social amenities had hindered traders from neigbouring villages and States from purchasing the produce.
Given his decision that no geographical location would suffer neglect as a result of cultural or political affiliation, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) waded into their plight by awarding contract for the construction of Tulu-tama erosion and flood control project.
The project was one of the 3rd quarter 2018 ecological intervention projects that was approved by Ecological Fund Office (EFO) tenders board on 26th November 2018, with a completion period of four months.
The project was initiated through a request for an urgent intervention, forwarded to the EFO by Alhaji Sadisu Abdulmumimi on the need to arrest the continuous flooding and erosion menace in Tulu-tama, Toro local government area in Bauchi State and to avoid environmental degradation, loss of lives and properties.
Speaking at the inauguration and handing over of the project, President Buhari urged the community to protect the culvert and bridges from vandals and take drastic measures to prevent indiscriminate dumping of refuse and open defecation on the project.
The president who was represented by the minister of State for Trade, Industry and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum assured that she would repeatedly monitor the project to ensure that it’s in good condition.
In her address, the permanent secretary of EFO, Dr Habiba Lawal attributed the timely completion of the projects to the effort of the contractors and consultants who had worked timelessly to ensure minimum loss of time in the project implementation schedule, with very close monitoring and prompt honoring of the contractual obligations by the EFO.
Lawal who was represented by EFO director of Special Duties, Mr David Haruna enjoined the communities to take ownership of the project and ensure their sustainability.
On his part, the governor of Bauchi state, Senator Bala Mohammed stated that the project was a clear manifestation of PMB’s promise that no geographical location would suffer neglect, adding that the ministry is presently compiling other areas that needed ecological intervention.
Mohammed who was represented by the commissioner for Environment & Housing, Hon Hamish Shira thanked the federal government for its timely intervention, meant to rescue the people from devastating effect of flood and erosion.
He pointed out that all the projects cited in the state were manifestation of Mr President’s love for Bauchi state.
The director of administration and general services, Toro Local government area, Mr Mohammed Bello Makama described the intervention as laudable, stressing that the gigantic crowd that attended the commissioning was an indication that the community members are excited with the project.
He appealed to the EFO to construct similar project in the community, adding that from the expressway where the tarred road stopped, that there are many areas that needed intervention.
“We have Tama, Sabon-gari Tulu and Zalau. I appeal to the federal government to improve on this project for the rural populace, which is the only way we can feel the impact of governance.”
Makama added, “Initially, we couldn’t transport our agricultural products to the market and people cannot come into our community to buy grains due to poor access road but the project brought relief to the community.”
A representative of the community members, Alhaji Sadisu Abdulmumimi said that he was the happiest person on earth being the initiator of the project, adding that when he approached the EFO permanent secretary about the project that she obliged.
While noting that he would never forget the impact of the project, he assured that the locals would continue to maintain and protect the project.
In his contribution, a staff of Toro local government area, Mr Hussien Garkuwa was excited with the project, saying that before the project, that people spent about 2 hours to move out of Tulu to the expressway.
He pleaded with EFO to assist the community in tarring the road so as to reduce the travel time to 20 minutes.
Lending his voice, the project Consultant, Engr Ibrahim Bununu of Yankari Global Infrastructure limited asserted that when the company was awarded contract for the project, that they carried out survey and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and discovered that Tulu-tama axis had lots of mining and agricultural activities that was linked up to the popular grain market in Kaduna and Kano States.
He pointed out that the firm started work on the site during the raining season when the entire road was flooded, noting that they had to survey possible areas where the intervention could possibly impact lives.
Bununu said, “EFO could not provide money to carry out intervention on the entire flooded areas in the community, so, we were able to capture what will be possible for the road to be accessible during the raining season.”
He stated that the project was constructed according to specification and design of the project.
On the challenges encountered on the project, he said, “During the construction which happened during the raining season, we had to do many clearances to access some locations which was not part of the contract.”
Bununu disclosed that the contractor had to do a clearance of about two kilometre to penetrate the last location at Sabon-gari Tulu, saying that major flooding occurred in the community at that time and destroyed some portion of the work, which the contractor reconstructed at his own cost.
Also, at Dutsen Zaki in Bogoro local government area of Bauchi, the locals who were majorly farmers also lacked social amenities like portable water and roads.
The community which is the country-home of the immediate past Speaker of House Representative, Hon Yakubu Dogara further attracted federal governments intervention through the EFO, by awarding contract for road improvement works and construction of bridge in the village.
The project was initiated through a request for an urgent intervention, that was forwarded to EFO by the Bogoro community, in order to construct a bridge and access road along Dutsen Lawal to Dutsen Zaki village.
As a responsible administration, the federal government responded to the yearnings of the indigenes and approved the project as one of twenty-three ecological intervention projects for the second quarter of 2018.
It was intended to arrest the continuous erosion and flood menace in the community and to avoid further environmental degradation, loss of lives and properties.
In her speech, Dr Habiba Lawal maintained that the commissioning and handing over of the project is expected to serve the dual purpose of enabling the host community to take over and exercise ownership of the project.
Lawal who was represented by EFO director of Drought, Desertification and Coastal Zone Management (DDCSM) department, Mr Yusuf Addy warned the beneficiaries against dumping of refuse at the project site.
The minister of State for Trade, Industry and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum urged the community to maintain the project as the locality has good landscape for tourist attraction, just as she cautioned them against digging for sand under the bridges to avoid weakening the foundation.
She informed that the risk of river flooding and silting as well as its negative consequences necessitated the prompt intervention of the federal government in effecting a holistic road improvement works and construction of bridge to address the free movement of goods and services within the communities.
The chairman of Dutsen Zaki community, Hon. Iliya Habila congratulated the federal government for impacting the lives of the locals through the project and assured that the community would return the gesture by maintaining the facility for their optimum benefit.
Responding, the governor of Bauchi state, Senator Bala Mohammed hinted that the people of Bogoro demonstrated their excitement with the project through the display of their rich cultural heritage.
Mohammed who was represented by the commissioner for Environment & Housing, Hon. Hamish Shira explained that PMB has a special place in his heart for Bauchi State by appointing two ministers, construction of 2,000 houses for low income earners and erosion control project.
While thanking the President for the gesture, he requested for additional projects that would facilitate human and vehicular movement in the community.