As hinted by Everyday.ng, the Niger State government buckled under pressure from the Federal Government and Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), announcing the reopening of its roads barely three days after closing them to articulated vehicles.
Expectedly, it came under attack from indigenes who were disappointed that the state government could not sustain its decision barely 24 hours after restating its resolve to keep state’s roads, especially the Minna-Bida road, for rehabilitation.
The government closed its roads to heavy duty vehicles to do rehabilitation work on them and preserve others following damage on them. The Petroleum Tanker Drivers immediately announced they would not carry petroleum products to the north, confirming fears of tension in that part of the country. The drivers rejected suggestions by the government to use federal roads, saying they were bad and infested by criminal elements, like bandits.
But Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who directed relevant agencies to open up the closed roads to articulated vehicles that carry not more than 45,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit PMS and 35,000 tonnes of dry cargo, pleaded for understanding from his people.
Bello briefed journalists shortly a meeting Chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Mohammadu Buhari, Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the Department of State Services, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Coorperation and the Minister of Works and Housing all in attendance.
The meeting, the Governor said was mainly to discuss issues arising from the closure of all Niger State owned roads to articulated vehicles, where he explained the condition of roads in the State to them.
A statement from his office said the meeting acknowledged that the deplorable roads in the State was mostly due to the movement of articulated vehicles carrying overloads of fuel and dry cargos which has resulted to the destruction of the roads and brought hardship on other road users.
Governor Bello however said the opening of the roads is to allow for free movement of goods and services to ease the hardship that would be caused by the closure to heavy trucks, pointing out that it is a sacrifice that has to be made in this tough period for the interest of Northern region in particular and the country at large.
Also, special interventions are expected to be carried out by the Federal Government in the State. This includes remedial works on the Bida-Lapai-Lambata and Mokwa-Tegina-Birnin Gwari roads to serve as alternative routes for articulated vehicles.
The Governor said the State government needs the support of the Federal Government to carry out remedial works on Farin Doki-Minna-Bida roads to allow for movement of heavy trucks, pointing out that the Minister of Works and Housing has reiterated the commitment of Federal the Government to completing the projects.
The Governor expressed optimism that the Mokwa-Tegina-Birnin Gwari Road when fixed, effective security will be provided on the road as it is prone to security challenges.
He then appealed to people of the State to be patient with the decision hoping that the Federal government’s special interventions will be effected in no distant time.
Meanwhile, Sani Bello has showered encomiums on Nigerlites for the unflinching support for his administration’s policies and programmes.
He appreciated the people of State for their patience and understanding during the recent State roads closure, which he explained is meant to fasttrack work on the Minna-Bida road, being the current motorable road that connects the North and Southern parts of the country.
The Governor, according to a statement by his spokeswoman, Mrs. Mary Noel-Berje, reiterated that his administration has no personal interest, rather than the overall best interest of Nigerlites.
He maintained that the closure has demonstrated to the Federal Government, how frustrating the deplorable state of roads in Niger State have been and are affecting lives and economic activities.
The Governor explained that the action of his administration was not meant to inflict pain on the good people of the State but has provoked a new level of positive collaboration between the State and the Federal Government towards fixing the Federal roads that transverse the State.
He said during his meeting with the critical stakeholders from both the federal and state government, he has stated categorically, the position of the State as regards to the need to salvage the situation.
While acknowledging the roles played by critical relevant stakeholders and the general public in ensuring that the closure was supported by all and sundry, Governor Sani Bello enjoined the people not to be disappointed on the decision to lift the ban.
He also urged the people to continue to support his administration as he is poised more than ever, to deliver on the expectations of the dividends of democracy.
He thanked the Chief of Staff to the president, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, at whose instance the Abuja meeting was held, were decision to review the ban on roads closure was taken.