INVESTIGATION: How Multi-million Naira abandoned Kano community Sukuk road project continues to claim lives
Whoever tells Hajiya Bature Imam, a 40 years old widow with 6 children that she won’t get to see her 12 years old son Ibrahim Imam who was killed by a hit-and-run commercial Hummer Bus along Kofar Fagachi, in Wudil LGA of Kano State, will forever remain her enemy.
On-the-field findings by PlatinumPost have revealed a surge in accidents, deaths, and injuries to residents and commuters plying the road due to the failure of the abandoned nature of the SUKUK road project by the federal government.
Relatives and victims of those involved in various forms of accidents on the road attributed the abandonment of the road as the reason behind their predicaments.
For Hajiya Bature, Ibrahim’s death remains one of the shockers she will have to live with for the rest of her life, she said.
“He was just with me here, while it was getting dark, I asked him to buy some firewood from the other side of the village so we can prepare dinner, and that was all, instead of the firewood, it was Ibrahim’s corps that was delivered to me, he was my last son, his dad passed on just last year ago, I can only blame the government for failing to complete the road.
“The road we all saw as an opportunity, is now claiming the lives of our children, we shouldn’t be happy about this, only God can protect us as its stands,” Bature added.
Just like Hajiya Bature, Auwal Babale, a newlywed young man whom the Hausa tribe popularly calls, “Ango”, was just returning from a visit where he went to show some appreciation to those that supported him during his wedding also known as ‘Aure’ when he met his untimely death.
Auwal who collided with a 12 seater commercial Sharon car died on the spot along Dilari a small settlement town In Gaya, it is still a narrow one-lane road, with all drivers moving at their own speed.
Sadiya Auwal, is the late Auwal’s new bride, but she is made a widow so early, barely more than a week after her wedding, she shares her pain.
“He bought the motorcycle a few weeks before our wedding and the plan is that after the farm work, he will resume commercial work with it to make some extra money for the family. My heart bleeds that he is no longer alive to achieve all of these leaving me behind, may Allah rest his soul” she said.
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Gwadebe Salisu the Maigari of the Dilari community, described the danger they are living with narrating the frequency at which accidents have been reoccurring because of the state of the road.
“I can categorically tell you that, just between January till date, we have recorded about 17 accidents on this road, and the death cases are over 70, this is because most of the vehicles are Hummer buses which have about 18 seater passengers, the scariest one that led us into prayers was when these two buses collided and everyone on both buses died, we had to do a mass burial for them and later report to the authorities.
“I wish government officials will be honest with you, we have constantly updated them whenever they come to ask because you won’t see them until after the incident happens, they always wait for us to report the matter to them,” Salisu said.
The SUKUK Bond Idea
The Sukuk is a strategic initiative to support the development of infrastructure, promote financial inclusion and deepen the domestic securities market.
It is a fixed-income capital market instrument issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on behalf of the federal government to raise funds to finance road projects in the country.
Between 2017 and 2021 records obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO) Portala revealed a total of N612.56 billion was raised and deployed to the construction and rehabilitation of sections of seventy-one (71) roads and four (4) bridges covering a total of 2,820.06km in Nigeria.
One such road project is the Wudil-Dutse dualization road project awarded to Messr Dantata and Sawoe, one leading frontline construction company in Nigeria owned by popular business mogul, Alhaji Dantata.
The construction and dualization of Wudil-Dutse road were billed to last for 24 months between 2019-2022 but just one year into the project after the construction of just one lane, the contractor is nowhere to be found while all equipment has been moved out of the project site, this is despite the claim by the government to have paid over 80% payment to the contractor and was hoping to commission the project in 2022.
Can We Forget The 7 School Children?
It was a Black Wednesday in the Garin Kunfa community in Wudil LGA, where they have to bury seven female students who were returning from school but never got home.
These girls who are between the ages range of 12 and 14 are students of Yanma Primary School and their names are Zainab, Fauziya, Semira, Laila, Bilksu Hadiza, and Raziya.
Zubairu, who saw how these school girls were crushed by the vehicle, narrates how he had to live with the thoughts for many weeks.
“These school girls usually leave the school in their number and be that it’s a one-lane road, they will stand for some time before crossing the road, but on this fateful day, this particular vehicle was on a high speed and while these students were waiting to cross the road standing on the middle road separator, the driver missed his way and crushed seven of these students, and they died on the spot.
“This one lane is consuming many lives, we don’t know why the government will begin a project, knowing the possible risk, yet abandon the project, here we are counting dead bodies on a weekly basis,” Zubairu said.
The Gaya Ordeal
While communities in Wudil continue to mourn the death of their loved ones, in Gaya, residents panic whenever they have to cross the road.
Sulaiman Muhammed said, “I feel reckless driving is the main reason why most accidents occur until I saw how bad roads also contribute to this scary nightmare we are living with.”
“We just saw a friend off who was heading to Kano after spending some days with us, just less than 20 meters from us, we saw the car somersaulting, it was just after the general hospital, we rushed over and saw that the car tire had pulled off, it was exactly at the bad spot of the road, while the vehicle somersaulted into the abandoned section of the road which had been under construction and abandoned for almost a year now.
“It was sad bidding a friend you just wished farewell forever, while we rushed them to the hospital, they immediately confirmed to us that he has died after sustaining an injury in the head,” Muhammed added.
For residents in Gaya who will have to walk several distances away from their homes to get water, this was how Ummi also met her death while crossing the road after fetching her water from the Central Primary School in Gaya, located by the roadside along Dutse road.
16 years Ummi, is in JSS one and she is the fifth child from the seven, her story is just like that of Ibrahim, in Wudil.
Ummi’s father, Yunusa Ahmed would only blame the narrow road and the abandoned state of the road as the sole cause of his daughter’s death.
“For so many years, we fetch water from the well across, we even go there with our cattle to drink water, it’s not new that water scarcity is one of our major problems, but compounding our problem with an abandoned road project which is now killing us, must be condemned and if the government won’t complete the road, we are already planning on blocking the road,” Ahmed said.
Inside Gaya General Hospital Where Most Patients Are Accident Victims.
Though no accident victim was admitted as of when this reporter visited the general hospital, in confirming the claim of residents, the officer in charge of Gaya General Hospital Ibrahim Badamasi could not deny the fact.
“At least in a week, we receive up to four and sometimes five accidents cases, for those we can treat, we quickly treat them and send them back home, while for those who have died, we release them to their family members, and for those with severe injuries and breakage, we refer them immediately to Dutse or Kano for swift medical attention.
“We are so concerned about the high accident cases, it was not like this some years back, all of these just began after the government began construction of the Wudil-Dutse road and abandoned after constructing just one lane, the speed of drivers is another point of concern which also contributes to the increasing accident daily,” Badamasi said.
Statistics Paints A Grim Picture
Exclusive data obtained by this Newspaper from the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Kano State Command, revealed that the majority of the accidents recorded on the road are often caused by the abandonment of the road as drivers are left with just one narrow lane to drive through.
For instance, the data showed and referenced the death of the seven school children killed by a commercial Hummer vehicle along the Wudil-Gaya axis in January 2023.
The accident happened when the driver ran into these students who were standing in the middle road separator waiting for cars to drive by and they will find a way to cross over, this record showed that they died on the spot.
2023 Accident Record.
Records obtained from the Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA) and the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) show that over 35 accidents have occurred on the Wudil-Gaya road with 48 deaths and 38 fractures.
In January, 12 accidents were recorded which were between commercial vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, with 18 death records and 9 fractures. In February, 9 accidents were recorded with 13 deaths and 8 fractures recorded, while in the month of March which was the peak of the political campaign period, 14 accidents were recorded and 17 deaths and 21 fractures.
We Are Waiting For Disbursement.
When this newspaper contacted the contractor Dantata and Sawoe at their Zaria Road Office, at first it looked like there would be some breakdown, until the head of the project, Philip Audu, only gave a lip wipe response to questions asked.
“Contractors will continue to remain on-site for as long as they continue to receive funding for the project, while there is still a lot of work to be done, we temporarily left the project site for some official reasons and one of them is the delay in disbursement of funds, gigantic project as this requires a responsible financial commitment, but we hope to be back on site soon.
“On the level of work done and the progress so far what has been paid and what we have done are both commensurate, but with the present state of the road, I fear to say that there might be frequent accidents because it just one lane that has been done, and this is a road that leads up to Maiduguri, you can tell that there will be a lot of commuters plying the road daily, and there must be reckless drivers who will not have regards for other road users, so that’s where the fear comes from,” Audu said.
“For the amount disbursed so far, kindly contact the Federal Ministry of Work to provide you that detail, it’s not within my purview to say all of that,” he added.
Work Will Commence Soon
While only the government can give accurate statistical analysis as to why the project has been abandoned and the amount expended on the project so far, Nuhu Isa, the Deputy Director, of Procurement Federal Ministry of Works at the Federal Secretariat in Kano narrates some of the possible delays, yet declined giving figures as back up to his claim.
“So many other projects are currently ongoing, and you know these are big projects not funded from the budget, but from the SUKUK Bond fund, for so many reasons, anything can happen and only the Ministry of Finance can give detail as to the status of financial disbursement to any project.
“One section of the road has been completed, and the other is yet to be done, which over 100km, there have been petitions and complaints stating the danger the state of the road is posing and we are aware, very soon, the contractor will be mobilized back to the site for the completion of the project, this is not within our powers to give when exactly, but I assure you, very soon,” Isa said.