• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Day Gombe stood still for Jonathan, Onolememen

Day Gombe stood still for Jonathan, Onolememen

For the past one month, it’s been a harvest of road commissioning by the Federal Ministry of Works. The ministry under the leadership of the Minister, Arc Mike Onolememen has in the past two years, been involved in extensive road development across the land earning him the sobriquet of a ‘Bulldozer.’

32 federal roads have been completed under this administration since May 2011, a feat that is not only historic but unbeatable. The ones commissioned few days ago were the Gombe-Potiskum road, Gombe Byepass and the 63 kilometre Gombe-Numan road.

Not long ago, Onolememen also commissioned the Von-Manchok road in Plateau State; a road he described as an ‘engineering wonder’ because of the way it meanders through the towering rocky plateau topographies. The road, a sharp reminder of some foreign sites as depicted in a number of lucid pictures, is fast becoming another tourist attraction for many Nigerians.

Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda few weeks ago, also commissioned the Katsina-Daura road and the Access road to Kaduna refinery.

When the Gombe-Potiskum road project at Kilometre 12 was washed away in July 2011, it became difficult accessing some communities including Potiskum, Nafada and the famous Ashaka Cement factory from where trailers regularly convey cement to other parts of the country.

Arc Onolememen had barely settled down to work as Minister of Works at that time and the washout became one of his early challenges. In other parts of the country, washouts or if you like flash floods had in 2011 also washed away a section of the Auchi-Okene road, three separate locations along Onitsha-Enugu expressway in Anambra state just to mention a few.

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In less than one year after these disasters, reliefs came the way of motorists on these various locations, thereby astounding many Nigerians about the promptness of government intervention.

The Kilometre 12 Washout along Gombe-Potiskum road has been reinstated with the construction of a 75m (5-span) reinforced concrete bridge and a well-marked, newly constructed approach road just like the Auchi Washout and those on Onitsha-Enugu expressway. The prompt reinstatements are what have given Nigerians a great sense of joy and belonging.

So when recently the minister arrived in Gombe State to commission the projects, residents who were full of excitement for the Federal Government’s response on the failed road erupted in wild jubilation. The Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo explained this when he revealed that the Gombe-Potiskum road that was washed out due to the torrential rains in 2011 had given the people untold hardships.

According to him, ‘trucks conveying cements from Ashaka Cement Factory and other goods from Borno and Yobe states to Gombe, Adamawa and Taraba States had to detour. Now, these difficulties no longer exist. I commend the Federal Government for the timely repair of the collapsed bridge and road.’

On the construction of the Gombe bypass by the Federal Ministry of Works, the Governor revealed that the idea was first conceived in the 1960s by the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, ‘with the aim of diverting trucks from entering Gombe town through the steep grades at Mile 3 and Dukku Road.’ That dream was only actualized under the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration after over 50 years.

‘It is gratifying to note that with the completion of the stretch from the junction on Gombe-Yola road and Gombe-Biu roads, accidents caused by heavy trucks cascading downslope from Mile 3 have been drastically reduced. For Onolememen, since Gombe is fast becoming a modern metropolitan city comparable to other State capitals, there is the need to develop its urban alignments to meet safety standards.

The 63 kilometre Kaltungo-Cham chainage which is part of the Gombe-Numan road was also commissioned, signaling hope that the entire stretch up to Yola may soon be rehabilitated.

The Works Minister however commended the co-operation and understanding of Governor Dankwambo and the people of Gombe State for identifying with the mission and vision of the transformation agenda of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration.

For many Gombe residents, the remark of Governor Dankwambo resonated emotions in them especially as he stated that since 1999, this was the first time a cabinet Minister was coming to the state to commission a project for the people.

This indeed explains why the state was virtually shut down and announcements made on radio and television for everybody to come out en masse to witness the historic event.

Tony Ikpasaja writes from Abuja