The roads in Lokoja township, the capital of Kogi State, North Central Nigeria, is littered with potholes and in a state of general disrepair despite the state government’s disbursement of billions of naira in 2017 and 2018 for road repairs and construction in the town.
A PREMIUM TIMES survey of major road networks in the town and suburbs revealed that many of the roads contain potholes and gullies.
For instance, a deep gully runs through the narrow dual carriageway between Ganaja Junction and Ganaja Village in Lokoja. The road, which also doubles as a linkage route between Abuja and Enugu, connects the southern and northern parts of the country through Lokoja.
Similarly, the so-called Otokiti Ganaja bypass multi-lane way, which was supposed to be a shorter route linking the Ganaja area of the town and the Otokiti part of the town is nothing but a single stretch of untarred road cutting through thicket of bushes.
There was no sign of the multi-lane road for which at least tens of millions of naira were confirmed to have been released.
Funds allocated, disbursed
In 2017, the Kogi State government allocated N2.2 billion for the “construction and rehabilitation” of Lokoja township roads in the budget of its Ministry of Works, Housing and Urban Development. However, only N444 million was disbursed.
Similarly, in 2018 the government allocated N600 million for the same project. The government refused to confirm the amount released in that year, despite several attempts made by this reporter for the information.
In 2017, the government budgeted N500 million for the construction of the Otokiti Ganaja Bypass but only N150 million was disbursed.
In 2018, the government budgeted another N500 million but just like in the case of the budget for the construction and rehabilitation of Lokoja township roads, the government declined to confirm the amount released for the project in 2018.
According to the budget of the Kogi State Ministry of Works, Urban and Housing, N891.6 million was allocated in 2017 for the Asphalt overlay of the expressway. The project was executed by The Kogi State Road Maintenance Agency (KOGROMA).
Despite the multi-million allocation and possible disbursement, the state of many roads in the town is a far cry from being described as motorable.
One of such roads is the 2.1 kilometres Lokoja-Ganaja road. The road stretches through some of the highbrow residential estates in the town such as the 200 Housing Units, Anebo Quarters, Commissioners Quarters, Gadumo, House of Representatives Quarters, and the 500 Housing Units and stops at Ganaja village where it blends into the Lokoja-Ajaokuta road.
The government merely poured filling on the section of the road between 500 Housing Units and Ganaja village. What was left of the road is a collection of potholes and gullies made worse by rain.
However, the road was listed among the Trunk A roads rehabilitated by the administration of a former governor of the state, Ibrahim Idris, for which N10 billion was refunded to the administration of the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello in 2019.
At the Ganaja Junction Central Park, which connects the town to Kabba in the Western part of the state, and from where Okene and Ajaokuta could be accessed in the east, the narrow dual carriageway is always congested with vehicular traffic and petty traders.
The road which was rehabilitated in February by the Federal Road Management Agency (FERMA) is already falling into disrepair as potholes are beginning to emerge along the stretch of the road.
The road at the front of the LGEA Primary School, Ganaja village, is in a state of disrepair. At the front of Commissioners Quarters, Lokoja, there is a long stretching pothole.
At front of 500 Units Lokoja, the road is filled with red earth. Therefore, the buildings, and the nostrils of commuters and pedestrians are filled with red dust. The section between Anaebo Quarters, Lokoja, at Gadumo, is also filled with red earth.
The Kogi State Road Maintenance Agency, carried out a partial repair of the road between Nataco Junction, Lokoja central pack, through Muritala Mohammed Way, to Chari Maigumeri Barracks in Zango-Daji through to Kabba Junction in the outskirts of the city.
Prior to this asphalt overlay of the road, the dual expressway was covered with cracks and potholes. Some of the potholes were still visible on certain parts of the road and these point out the poor quality of work that was done.
In addition to the deplorable state of the major roads in the state capital, majority of the roads within housing estates in Lokoja are in a poor state.
The road around the perimetres of Federal University Lokoja situated at Adankolo, is bad. During gridlocks on the Muritala Muhammed Way, commuters turn to this road as an alternative route linking the highway to the Lokoja-Ganaja road.
There are severe potholes in front of the university gate and throughout the perimeter of the university.
At 500 Housing Units, the roads leading into the estate from the two main gates are bad. At the first gate, patches of tar can be seen at intervals while the road itself is largely a pathway of naked earth.
The second gate is a red earth pathway that holds rainwater during downpours. From observation, the road was not covered with asphalt after it was graded. The situation is the same throughout the estate.
At Anaebo Quarters, another residential quarters in the state’s capital, the internal roads are in same dilapidated condition. Patches of tar spread across the red earth of the roads indicating that the road was originally laid with asphalt.
The story is not different at the first and second 200 Housing Units in the state, at Government Residential area and at Gadumo.
At Peace Development Community, however, the road is in a perfect motorable condition in contrast to other estate roads in the state. It is devoid of potholes and is bordered by functioning drainage systems.
The situation is the similar at Commissioners quarters, House of Assembly quarters and the roads cutting across Lugard House Lokoja.
Government keeps mum
When reached for comments, the spokesperson of the Kogi State Ministry of Works, Benjamin Eneojah, told PREMIUM TIMES that some of the information sought were ‘classified’.
“You know some of the information you seek are classified and we cannot give it. For some of the projects you have mentioned, visit KOGROMA office, they are the ones in charge of road construction in the state. Also visit that of the Director of Mechanical, Director of Engineering and Director of building. You must also send a request to the office of the commissioner, then we will take it from there,” he said.
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At the office of the Kogi maintenance agency, the agency’s Director of Admin & Finance, Fiki Yetunde, said details of the projects executed could not be released except directly from the office of the commissioner.
The government did not respond to written questions delivered at the office of the state commissioner for works.