REHABILITATION OF KWARA ROADS: IT’S TIME FOR NEW APPROACH
– Bolaji Aladie
I will like to address this piece to the executive governor of Kwara State, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazak through Kwara State Ministry of Works and Transport. Just as captured in the title, I will try to hit the ground running on my intent without wasting time on rhetoric. Let’s get down to the business.
Permit me to appreciate the new administration on board for the sincere and genuine efforts put in place to address the terrible situations of all roads in our dear State. Inheriting a looted property from one’s successor is more or less of being left with nothing. No gainsaying in declaring that in the whole of Kwara State, there is no road of motorable standard. The best of our roads to date are those built many decades ago by military administrations. Fact-checking all those ones constructed since the return of democracy in 1999 shows that the Military Administrators left us with legacies unmatched.
Fast forward to the tenure of the immediate government under the reign of Alh. Abdullahi Ahmed, Maigida NKwara, one of the cardinal objectives of his administration in 2011 was ‘Operation Zero Potholes’. The aim was to rid the State of the innumerable head aching potholes dotted every length and breadth of our roads in different shapes. Looking back at the hand of time after 8yrs tenure, we can all judge if we are far better than where we were before 2011. Not only that the potholes increased in numbers including on the new roads constructed within the two terms periods, but also we were left with addition of unimaginable shapes and contours resulting from poorly handled rehabilitation done by the men of Kwara State Road Maintainance Agency (KWARMA) charged with responsibilities of maintaining our roads to prevent crucial damages and avoidable huge costs.
After the end of Ahmed-led administration, came the man of destiny, Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak who rode on the cynosural Ótógẹ́ Horse to clinch power from men of yesterday whom the people of the State have gotten tired of, due to their 16yrs of perceived inept leadership which drew the State backward than conceivable. The 2019 elections as far as Kwara are concerned was anything but not a continuation of people at the helm over the last 16yrs. It was a Tsunami – a bloodless revolution that earned no one treasonable felony charges. The resolution was to bid bye to the past.
Abdulrahaman took over, pitiably, he met the State in aground conditions, however, average Kwaran won’t listen to excuses, he has to hit the ground running. Fortunately for the people of the State, he showed a glimpse of hope through a kind of leadership zeal that had eluded the State over the years.
The governor displayed business commitment right from the first day of his inauguration, to date, always on the move on the assessment of the rots and how to get them fixed.
Without deviating and derailing from the subject of this piece, the governor through the Ministry of Works and Transport shown commitment to roads rehabilitation by releasing funds for the agency in-charge, and like a man who is just regaining his lost appetite, the agency, KWARMA in consonance with vision of the new administrator, got to work, begin to fill all the potholes and paradoxically, we found ourselves back in Maigida’s campaign against zero potholes even though the slogan wasn’t pronounced this time.
However, a critical assessment of the roads in the State including Ilorin, the capital, will revealed that just like man that has an expiring date, virtually all the roads had outlived their lifespan. The more we rehabilitate some sections, the more we get exposed to more sections begging for repairs. Thus, it becomes a case of Ábíkú S’olóógùn Dèké or Egbìrìn ọ̀tẹ̀, báa tí ń paná ọ̀kan lọ̀kan ń rú.
A visit to those roads which have been repaired by the new administration will reveal that they could be better handled. To every single recently patched pothole you have two or more left uncovered with tendencies to grow wider. This development makes nonsense of the job done and wasteful of the money spent.
Another thing worthy of critical look is that the KWARMA engineers handling these road fixing jobs are not proving enough to be competent and know what they are doing. How on earth will you fix or patch some section of a damaged road and few steps afterward are many more holes appealing for a fix? One will left with thoughts of disbelief that the unfix sections are not new.
There are many instances when even as a layman in civil engineering, one would agree with commonsense that before a damaged part of the roads could succumb to asphalt pulled on them, some certain measures – thorough cleaning and clearing of debris and drainage fixing/clearing – need to take place. Disgustingly, the men of KWARMA will just pour asphalt on the potholes without care for the aforementioned glaring problems which will make a mess of their shoddy job. Boom, they move on.
Aside from this, haven’t you observe the instance of where less than 3 meters would be fixed on a road of 2KM badly damaged? Haven’t you ever witness a scenario where let say 95% of a road will be fixed and 5% would be left uncared for?
There are many instances where the asphalts were not well primed. This suffices that all it takes to wash away the asphalt is just one or two heavy downpours and we return back to status quo.
The way forward……
To prevent further wastage of taxpayers money on rehabilitation which won’t stand the test of time and expose the motorists to more aches, it is high time the governor calls the KWARMA for deliberations and charge them on sincere work. They must firstly in the company of competent civil engineers carry out a survey of all the roads in the State and come forward with a proposal that will detail how this road can be genuinely fixed beyond asphalt paste on the potholes. Also, instead of varieties of shape patching of damaged sections, the government should adopt total rehabilitation where necessary. For instance rather than filling potholes from Oja Oba to Ita Nma which won’t agree with durability value, the government can once-and-for-all rehabilitate and expand to standard the road from Oja Oba to Pakata, do same on Pakata to Ọ̀mọda Roundabout within three months and move on to another ones that are worst hit by another 3 months. Simplifying my recommendation, rather than repairing 10 roads with twenty million Naira, rehabilitate 4 roads to a standard that will outlive your administration and at least to come.
May I round off this with the saying that “you can’t continue to do things the same way and be expecting different results”.
May Kwara Succeed under AA.
Bolaji Aladie is a son of the soil, linguist and a broadcaster. He writes from Ilorin.
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