Senate urges tanker drivers to stop protest , as minister of works intervene

Solomon Ezeme

The Senate has charged the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the ongoing oil tanker drivers’ protest in Niger State, by approving N300bn for the deployment of contractors to continue work on the federal roads that are in bad shape.

The Senate also urged the tanker drivers to dismantle roadblocks mounted on major roads so that economic activities can resume in the state.

Meanwhile, Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works, has also given a directive to contractors for the immediate rehabilitation of the roads.

Deputy Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), on Tuesday, through a motion of urgent national importance, drew the attention of the Senate to what was going on in Niger State. He drew the attention of his colleagues to the deplorable condition of the roads which is over 2,000 kilometres.

The senator bemoaned the deteriorated state of the roads, stating that oil tanker drivers have caused several roadblocks, disrupting economic activities in the state, causing untold hardship to the people since Friday, last week.

“Indeed, the massive haulage of heavy industrial goods such as petroleum products, iron rods, cement, finished manufactured goods, machines and equipment, electronic materials and goods, building materials etc, in which trucks and tankers are overloaded pits great pressure on the roads and thus are seriously devastating to the state of the roads,” he said.

He said that all the major link roads in Niger State have totally failed, leading to regular cases of accidents on a daily basis with loss of lives and properties. He noted that the current funds allotted for work on federal roads in the state are not adequate , which has made many road projects in the state to be abandoned by contractors.

He told the Senate that Niger State has the longest federal road network of about 2,263km out of the 32,000km federal roads network.

He said, “The federal roads in Niger State stretched from the Abuja-Kaduna end to the Jebba-Mokwa-Makera-Tegina-Birnin Gwarimpa-Kaduna Road, to the Mokwa-New Bussa-Agwara-Kigera end, which lies on the border with the Republic of Benin.

“Overall, the following are critical linkage roads within Niger State that provide logistical and vehicular movements between the North and South; especially the South-west and North-west corridors.

“Because of the massive land area of Niger State at 76,363km (representing about nine per cent of the total land area of the country), all movements from North to South substantially traverse the state.”

Senator Aliyu, through his motion, requested for Federal Government’s urgent disbursement of N300bn special intervention fund, which was then adopted by the Senate in its resolutions which demands that the Federal Government should declare a state of emergency on the critical roads in the state, known to connect economic corridors of the North and South.

The Senate further agreed that a national legislative roundtable on the state of infrastructure for economic development in the state, should be convoked.

Also, the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, in a statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Relations of the Ministry of Works, Boade Akinola, directed the contractors in charge of construction at sites on the Lambata-Lapai-Bida Road, to begin rehabilitation on critical sections of the road, with immediate effect.

The minister explained that weather condition had earlier hindered the progress of works on the ongoing 124.8km Bida-Minna Road, leaving the road in a deplorable state and making it impossible to allow oil tanker drivers ply the road with petroleum and other related products.