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SPECIAL REPORT: How abandoned bridge compounds sufferings of Borno residents

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After the Boko Haram insurgents destroyed the bridge linking Limankara village in Borno State to Mubi in Adamawa in 2014, the federal government awarded a contract for its reconstruction. Ten years after, IMRAM RIDWAN was on a fact finding mission, and reports on how the damaged bridge now affects the movement of agricultural products and commuting

On a beautiful morning in May 2024, at Limankara village in Gwoza local government area of Borno State, women, men, and children could be seen walking with hoes and cutlasses on their way to their farms.
Bulama Abba, the village head, said, ”it’s a normal thing” to salute the military men standing beside an uncompleted bridge.
But for this reporter, that day was another experience; he was detained by a military man for five hours after giving the ‘salutation’.

“What are you doing in Limankara Village? Who sent you? You are a Boko Haram member; keep quiet, don’t say anything, and you will learn. Thank God I’m in the right mood; I would have killed you, and nobody would know,” the military officer yelled at the reporter.

Limankara village

Limankara village

The Bridge

Mr Abba, 58, explains how the Boko Haram insurgents destroyed the bridge and how it has affected the movement of agricultural products and commuting.

“You see, one of the major problems we are facing here in our community is this uncompleted bridge, which has been the foundation of our problem. This bridge you see there was destroyed by Boko Haram because they don’t want us to transport our agricultural products to other communities, and it has disconnected us from our neighbouring villages. We were very happy when they started work on the bridge, but, unfortunately, the project has lasted for four years now they have not completed the bridge,” he said.

“Farming is our pride; we can’t survive without farming. Our agricultural products are not being transported because we find it difficult to transport, and the attack from the Boko Haram persists,” he added.

The abandoned bridge project

According to the progress report obtained by UDEME at the ministry, on 15th January 2019, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing approved the rehabilitation of three insurgent-damaged bridges in the North East: Bridge at KM 131.5 Gamboru along Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru, KM 133 Bridge at (Limankara Village), and KM 9 Bridge at Yamaltu-Deba Road, to Messrs SAPPERS ENGINEERING NIG. LTD, at the sum of N813 million.

Subsequently, the 8-month duration for the projects was extended to 23 months to be completed on 13th December 2020.
According to the progress report, the bridges’ repairs were awarded in 2019, and the funds have been released for the reconstruction of the bridges.

Despite that, the people of Limankara village are lamenting over the uncompleted bridge in their community. Other bridges have been completed.
When this reporter visited Limankara village in May, the bridge construction appeared to have been abandoned. There is still much work to be done on the bridge even though it has been covered to the road level. Cars are not allowed to pass over it.

The project was intended to provide easy access to transport agricultural products and people from Limankara to Gwoza, Maiduguri, and Mubi. However, leaving it uncompleted has caused residents and commuters untold hardship.

Reactions

Adamu

Adamu

Musa Adamu, a 45-year-old farmer, expressed his frustration regarding the delayed completion of the bridge project. He plies the route to Maiduguri once a week. He says the bridge’s poor condition causes him stress and jeopardizes his business.

“You see, there have been instances where I couldn’t travel to Gwoza-Maiduguri from Limankara. I have to wait for days because if heavy rain falls big trucks cannot pass beside the under bridge road, and there will be no movement, everything will stop, most of the time, some farmers with perishable products will be frustrated,” he said.
He adds that the delay in the bridge project is disheartening and drastically affecting his farming business.
“It’s disheartening to witness the negative impact of this project delay on the well-being of our community. The bridge’s condition makes it extremely challenging for the growth of my business; if I don’t sell my farm product, how would I get money to sponsor my children to school?”

Nasiru Babagana, a 28-year-old resident of Limankara, also expressed his disappointment with the government and told UDEME how the unfinished bridge negatively affects his daily life and income.
“It’s been a real challenge. I’m a driver, and I rely on being able to transport agricultural products from Limankara to Maiduguri market. But with the bridge not completed, it’s become almost impossible to drive through the under-road of the bridge in large quantities because of the fear that the lorry might fall. It’s affecting my income and ability to provide for my family,” he said.

Likewise, Falmata Issah, a 50-year-old resident of Gwoza, conveyed her disappointment in the government.

Falmata

Falmata

 

“You see, I have family in Limankara that I would like to visit, but the bridge has not been completed, and their road is not good; the last time I went there, it was God who saved my life when our car was hit by a big lorry because everybody is (was) eager to pass through the small road. It’s expected of the government to rehabilitate the bridge and save people from fatal accidents,” she said.

Aminat Bukar, a 25-year-old resident, spoke about how people lost their lives due to the uncompleted bridge.
“You know what, there was a time between the early or middle of last year when some farmers were coming from Gwoza to Limankara with their farm products, and a big trailer brake failed and hit their car. All of them died without anybody surviving there; it’s very unfortunate to see people lose their lives in the process of looking for a livelihood,” she said.

Official reaction

When this reporter reached out to Amos Tongman, the Federal Controller of Works in Borno State, via phone, he explained that one of the things facing project execution in Maiduguri is insecurity.
“You will even see some situations whereby contractors will run away from the site and abandon their work. Likewise, inflation stands up against the country now.”
He further noted that the reason for the delay was the contractor’s ”failure to survey accurately and estimate the work that will be carried out.”
“You see, the problem is that, after the commencement of work on the site, there were issues that came up, like the need to increase the length of the bridge, and it was a joint work. But now the project has been awarded to a new consultant to carry out the necessary survey, and a committee has been set up to look into it. Very soon, work will commence from the bridge,” he said.

“Interestingly, the new administration has awarded the rehabilitation and construction of the roads from Mubi in Adamawa through Limankara to Maiduguri; as soon as possible, work will commence on these roads,” he added.

However, all efforts to reach the Managing Director of SAPPERS ENGINEERING NIG. LTD in charge of the project were futile. He did not pick up his calls or respond to messages.

The story was supported with funding from the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)

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