Jos stagnant roads projects: ‘Everything is turning red’ -By Labaran Yusuf

Filed under: National Issues |

A trailer trapped on the Manchok Jos Road connecting Kaduna and Plateau States

 

In the city of Jos, communities bedeviled by dust generated from the unofficial abandoned road projects sites, are trying to cope with the new reality of living in a polluted environment – due to the fallout of laterite used in the rehabilitation of roads around the city.

Now, it’s almost a year since the Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong awarded a N5 billion naira contract to three contractors: Latokem Nig. Ltd, China Zhonghao, and Jolex Nig. Ltd – for the repairs and reconstruction of major road networks with an average distance of 7 kilometers around Jos metropolis, an objective that is yet to be achieved to date.

Residents, traders and commuters’ of the roads under construction, notable in Anguwan Rogo/Anguwan Rimi, Pump Street, Hawan Idi/Ali Kazaure, New Market, among others – have voiced their complaints on the delay and slowness of road construction in their area. And also the fact that they continue to breathe a contaminated air – filled with dust, a silent killer.

Dust – particulate matter that can float in the air and vary in size from visible to invisible – has been of a major concern to communities where road reconstruction projects are underway. This pollutant, generated by the laterite-shoring activities of the roads under repairs, is taking a toll on people’s day-to-day activities.

Large visible dust particles have virtually red-coated all buildings, shops, commodities, food items – and even food eaten by residents and traders adjacent to the road reconstruction and rehabilitation sites. The smaller (fine) and ultrafine invisible dust particles pose a much greater danger to the communities – as they harmfully affect people’s health.

The inhaled particles of small dust are more likely to penetrate deeply into the lungs while ultrafine particles can even make their way into the bloodstream. In both scenarios, victims suffer a wide range of complications involving: eye irritations, coughing, sneezing, hay fever and most important of all – asthma attacks.

Persons with existing respiratory and heart conditions, including smokers, are at greater risk of developing long-term health problems. Also, young children and elderly people are more likely to develop health problems from long-term exposure to high levels of dust. After all, 700,000 people die in Africa every year as a result of air pollution, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is neither the polluted India’s capital of New Delhi nor is it a neighborhood in plague-stricken Madagascar, some traders and residents of the New Market area of Jos, have resorted to putting on a face mask, in order to protect themselves from the unbearable dust emanating from the abandoned sites.

Residents that were rejoicing back in February, when the project was commissioned are now nervous and frustrated. The memory of uncompleted road projects of the previous administration still haunts many, as numerous abandoned sites are visible, scattered all over the city.

“We are suffering. Look, everything is turning red! I buy a thousand naira water daily to clean the dust on walls and items we use and also to make the environs muddy to prevent the dust from floating in the air as we work”, said Maman Hauwa, a restaurant owner along the Anguwan Rogo-Anguwan Rimi road.

Despite the loss of some of her customers ever since the work started, her main problem is the health hazard. “Every day I experience coughs, sore throats and, headache. I pray I won’t be diagnosed with asthma”, she added.

But, in New Market (Yan Tifa), the approach of one wholesale and retail provision store owner, Mr. Murtala, whose once white-shining shop is a shadow of itself, was conciliatory. “What can we do? We must be patient”, he lamented. “Many successive governments have neglected us. Let’s give this government a chance. Since they’ve started working”, he added.

Before the harmattan winds make a landfall in Jos, the Plateau government has to do enough to make sure the road projects are completed in due time. Even if that would mean, the government revoking some of the road contract over contractors’ incompetency and replacement with a competent, time-minded one.

The once deemed most successful government ever on the Plateau, headed by All Progressive Congress’ Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, should not throw all its hard work (in the vein of inclusiveness, peace and security) into a trashcan over stagnant roads repair and reconstruction – that continue to frustrate affected communities, which many deem as mere political delay tactics.

Name: Labaran Yusuf, freelance writer and researcher based in Jos
Email: [email protected]
City: Jos, Plateau State

 

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