Awalu Kasimu rode his motorcycle slowly, along Alasan -Faga road, near Tambuwal town in Sokoto in the burning sun. A huge sack of onions was tied to the back of his motorcycle.
Mr Kasimu, a sexagenarian farmer who lives in the Faga community, was travelling to a nearby market at Alasan to sell his farm produce.
The time was 11: 06 am and he told PREMIUM TIMES he had been wobbling through on the pot-hole ridden road for more than 40 minutes – a trip which, he said, should not be more than 25 minutes if the road was tarred.
“It is not always easy for me to take my goods from Faga to Alasan because of the state of the road anytime I go there for business,” he said, his face haggard and tired.
Mr Kasimu’s predicament is the same as that of most residents of Sokoto farming communities.
Farmers and other residents who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said the road was a major bane to the socio-economic growth of their communities.
Abubakar Saliman, a resident of Alasan town, said if the road between Faga and Bakaya was fixed, it would lead to a boost of the socio-economic status of the farming communities along the stretch.
For residents of the communities, the rainy season is often bittersweet. While the rain leaves their crops nourished and their harvest bountiful, transporting their harvests to nearby markets and the journeys to their farms are done under extreme difficulty.
“You cannot even think of passing this road during the rainy season,” said a young man who simply referred to himself as Abdullahi, a dweller of Alasan town.
In 2018, the Sokoto State government budgeted N25 million for the construction of the 19-kilometre road from Alasan to Bakaya. The project was supervised by the state’s Ministry of Rural Development through its Department for Feeder Roads.
In 2019 the same amount was budgeted for the project but this reporter observed that no work has been done on the road.
Other rural roads
Similarly, the government budgeted several funds for the construction of roads in other agrarian communities in the state, none of which has been executed.
Bankanu and Rijiyar Kade are two agrarian communities in Kware Local Government close to the border with the Niger Republic, but the government has failed to construct the road that links both communities despite budgeting millions of naira for that purpose.
In 2018, the state government approved N115 million for the construction of 10 kilometres road from Bankanu to Rijiyar Kade. The project was supervised by the Department for Feeder Roads, Ministry of Rural Development.
Hassan Bankanu, a resident of Bankanu town told PREMIUM TIMES that he was disappointed with the state of the road. He said the pleas of the residents of the communities to the government has fallen on deaf ears.
Similarly, the government budgeted N50 million for the construction of a 2.5 kilometres road that links Sanyinna and Buwade in Tambuwal Local Government but this reporter observed that like many roads with the state’s agrarian communities, the road was never constructed.
However, this reporter observed that some rural roads which were budgeted for have been constructed.
One of such roads is the road that links Wamakko town to the Gwamatse community. The state government budgeted N120 million for the construction of the 10-kilometre road in 2018. The project also reappeared in the 2019 budget for the same amount. The project was placed in the budget of the Department for Feeder Roads, Ministry of Rural Development.
According to the signage on the road, the project was awarded to City International Dimension Limited under the supervision of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
“This road was done in January this year and it has increased the socio-economic relationship between the two communities,” said Busari Hassan, a resident.
“Transporting farm produce from Gwamatse to our market in Wamakko is now easy comparing it to the situation before the execution of this project. Then, the road was bad and driving with your bike from here to Gwamatse would require lots of determination and effort because of the exacting nature of the trip and this badly affected the inter-relationship between the two communities,” he added.
When reached for comments, Ismail (he didn’t give a surname), the spokesperson of the state’s Ministry of Rural Development, promised to get back after getting the details from the permanent secretary of the ministry.
However, he ignored subsequently calls and messages reminding him of his promise to provide more information and clarification.
This report was written as part of the UDEME project.
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