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Respite At Last for Okene-Lokoja-Gegu Road Corridor of Deaths

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FRSC officials on duty

FRSC officials on duty

Respite At Last for Okene-Lokoja-Gegu Road Corridor of Deaths

By John Akubo

Respite may have come at last for commuters and other users of the dangerous Okene-Zariagi-Lokoja-Koto Karfe-Geru road that has claimed 79 lives in the last five months, as the FRSC recently flagged off a special intervention patrol (SIP) meant to stem the tide.

The first phase of the operation, which is expected to end in December 2016, will involve a total of 52 officers and men, including six officers and 46 marshals drawn from Kogi Sector Command and the Unit Commands of Okene-Zaroagi-Lokoja-KotonKarfe-Gegu.

Already, 10 patrol vans, one ambulance and one utility tow truck have been deployed for the operations. Officers and materials will also be deployed to strategic locations on the corridor to ensure maximum compliance with traffic rules and regulations. This is coming after many harrowing years of near-death experiences of many road users.

It is always a nightmare each time one is forced to travel from Lokoja to Okene, a distance of about 55km that takes two hours due to the many potholes, lack of road shoulders and the heavy vehicular traffic on the one-lane road. Often times, there is a procession of not less that 20 trailers on the road, making it difficult for cars to move, even as the trailers struggle to overtake each other.

However, the Okene-Lokoja part of the corridor is the most notorious of the stretch with a distance of about 120km. The spot has been designated ‘a death trap’, having claimed 79 lives in the last five months.

Lokoja, the Kogi State capital is a gateway and has been a link for 26 states of the Federation via the corridor. The large number of deaths resulting from 95 road accidents, involving 147 vehicles and 786 people in the first half of 2016, has made Road Safety officials to focus on this axis by initiating the ongoing intervention.
Many of the lives lost on this stretch included that of prominent citizens, which were not always recorded. Tyres are an essential aspect of safety in vehicles, as they are the only part of the vehicle that makes direct contact with the road.

Experts have said that the appropriate lifespan of any tyre is four years. They say at two years, the quality of a tyre depreciates by 20 per cent and by the third year, this rises up to 50 per cent. But a tyre might not last four years, if it gets worn out, has alignment problems or high mileage, all of which reduce its life span. However, most motorists, especially commercial ones, are guilty of using worn out tyres, which is one of the major causes of road accidents.

According to some road users, who frequently ply the route, the main cause of the problem has to do with recklessness on the part of drivers, especially the commercial ones.

Yinka Okinbaloye regularly plies this route and he is advocating enforcement of the speed limiters, especially on commercial vehicles, as in his view, a high per cent of road accidents, is due to over speeding, dangerous overtaking, drunkenness and recklessness.

He said most of the deaths occurred between Lokoja and Gegu, as the Okene-Lokoja axis still remains one terribly dilapidated road.

Oyibo Mustapha, another regular traveller on the Okene-Lokoja road, said the road, which is barely 60km, is a shame to the nation. He lamented that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) appears to have gone on holiday, as the potholes on the road have now become gullies.
He claimed that the agency had earlier said that the Okene-Lokoja portion of the corridor expired more that 12 years ago, as the lifespan of any road should not be longer than 10 years.

He would want the road concessioned, if government is finding it difficult maintaining it. He, however, recommended that such private organisations should have the capacity to execute the project.

The Zonal Commanding Officer Zone RS8HQ, Assistant Corps Marshal John B. Meheux, explained that the corridor is one of the busiest in Nigeria, next only to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

He was speaking during the flag off of the special intervention patrol (SIP) along Okene-Zariagi-Lokoja-Koto Karfe-Geru, when he said that the corridor also shares a boundary with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He explained that a special intervention patrol already exists on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which is designated a World Bank Corridor. He expressed the commission’s readiness to enforce the use of speed limiters among the motoring public in Nigeria after so many shifts in date.

Meheux explained that all impediments to the enforcement of speed limiters have been removed, and that the enforcement would go a long way in assisting the special intervention patrol, which is being put in place to reduce road accidents.

On his part, Ogochukwu Ugboma, Zonal Commanding Officer, explained the rationale behind the project. He noted that most of the accidents that occur in Kogi State usually involve vehicles on transit, hence the initiative to stage the SIP on the highway.
Said he: “It is has also been observed that most of these vehicles do not stop, when flagged down. Rather, they increased their speed and overtake dangerously. This flagrant disobedience of traffic rules and regulation has contributed to the high rate of road traffic crashes recorded in the state, thus the need for this Special Intervention Project, which will run concurrently in all formations in the state for one week.

He said the SIP, which started from May 31, would focus on over-loading (OLV), speed limit violation (SLV), driving with worn-out tyre (TYY) and driver’s licence violation (DLV).

Others offences include the use of phone while driving (UPD), driving under alcohol or drug influence (DUI) and route traffic violation (RTV) among others.

However, the initiative is generating concern among some residents in the capital city, who wonder how long the intervention would last. The road safety officials, who were once known to be honest in the discharge of their duties, are now seen as not different from other security outfits, who compromise by allegedly taking bribes. They have always looked the other way, when overloaded vehicles with goods and passengers drive by and are let to go after bribing the officers.

Suleiman Abdulaziz, a resident of Lokoja, believes it is those entrusted with the task of keeping the road safe are the ones responsible for the many accidents on the road.

“If a road safety officer, who is expected to sanction defaulters, takes bribe and allow vehicles with worn-out tyres and other faults to pass, is he not contributing to the problem,” he queried.
http://m.guardian.ng/cityfile/respite-at-last-for-Okene-Lokoja-gegu-road-corridor-of-deaths/

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Synergos Nigeria urges Kogi to implement Agric. Investment Plan, woo Investors

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Synergos Nigeria urges Kogi to implement Agric. Investment Plan, woo Investors


By Friday Idachaba
Country Director of Synergos Nigeria, Mr Victor Adejoh, has called on Kogi government to implement its Agricultural Investment Plan to woo Investors and boost agriculture development in the state.

Synergos Nigeria is an international Non-Governmental Organisation

Adejoh who made the call in interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lokoja said Synergos worked in the state between 2016 and 2019 alongside critical stakeholders to develop the plan.

He said that under the the aegis of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) collaboration produced the document which now resides in the state Agriculture Ministry to woo private investments in the Agriculture sector to the state.

The Country Director said it would be great to see the current administration in the state display the political will to work on the foundations laid in the past to revamp the state agriculture sector.

“When Synergos got into the state, one thing we did was to identify the strategic leaders from the non-state actors and the state actors and we brought them under a platform called the Agricultural Vision Group (AVG).

That platform helped build collaboration in the state in a way that the efforts and investments of government in that sector saw people working together to address a common issue which was how to increase farmers income and improve their livelihood.

He said that the organisation also supported government to set up a Core Delivery Team (CDT) which was able to organise all those critical to policy development and implementation.

Adejoh therefore, advised the state to revitalise the Core Delivery Team (CDT) and strengthen the Agricultural Vision Group (AVG) which was made up of government and non-government actors including the Civil Society, financial institutions, private sector investors and input providers.

The Country Director said that by reactivating and revitalising the initiatives, government stood to benefit a lot from the revenue that would accrue from their engagements and bridging of gaps.

“At a point in time in the history of Nigeria and in the history of the world, Kogi State ranked the highest producer of cassava and sometime between 2015 and 2019, Kogi State also accounted for the highest production of cashew nuts in the country.

“If you understand Kogi State very well, stakeholders both state and non-state actors had been working in different directions until 2016.

“So, when Synergos got into the state, one thing we did was to identify the strategic leaders from the non-state actors and the state actors and we brought them under the AVG platform.

He urged Kogi government to return the state back to its place of recognition especially with crops of comparative advantage especially, Cassava and Cashew. (NAN)

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Metro

Death visits Aso Villa, claims Buhari’s official driver

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Death visits Aso Villa, claims Buhari’s official driver 

The presidency has announced the demise of the official driver to President Muhammadu Buhari, Master Warrant Officer, Sa’idu Afaka.
The sad incidence happened on Tuesday at the State House Clinic in Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of power after a prolonged illness.
A Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu confirmed his death in a statement.
The statement indicated that President Buhari has extended his condolences to the family of Afaka over his demise.
The President, in the statement also condoled with the government and people of Kaduna State.
Buhari described the late Afaka as an honest, capable and reliable person who handled his job with utmost care and responsibility.
He recalled that in 2016 the soldier, while on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, picked up a bag containing a large amount of foreign currencies and turned it over to the National Hajj Commission.
The action earned Afaka praises from the Saudi and Nigerian authorities.
Buhari prayed the Almighty Allah to ‘”bless the soul of the departed with an elevated place in heavens,”.
The Nigerian leader also wished the family and friends divine comfort.

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Anti Buhari protesters invade Kogi, intercepted by police

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Anti Buhari protesters invade Kogi, intercepted by police

***kogi govt applauds gallantry of Kogi youths

The Kogi State Commissioner of Police Ayuba Edeh, has confirmed the arrest of two Persons caught early hours of monday morning attempting to roll out campaign against President Mohammadu Buhari in Lokoja.

The Police Commissioner who spoke to newsmen in Lokoja said at about 2:30am in the early hours of Monday, men of the command arrested two young men who were painting buildings and carrying posters with the inscription “Buhari Must Go”

The Commissioner disclosed that while people have the right to protest, it must be done lawfully without inciting the public.

He added that the young men could not have been protesting at the wee hours of the night as is being insinuated, saying that painting walls, buildings and pasting anti Buhari posters can not be termed as peaceful protest.

He said his command is working round the clock to ensure the protection of lives and property, warning mischief makers to stay clear of the State, “my command will fish and arrest pepetrators.

The NationalUpdate checks indicated that some youths invaded lokoja with the sole aim of rolling out a campaign against President Muhammadu Buhari, they were alleged to have painted buildings and pasted posters with Buhari Must Go inscription.

Our correspondent who went out round Lokoja however did not see any painted build or sight any posters, as the CP said his men had removed the posters.

Reacting to the development, the Kogi State Government however commended the gallant and ever vigilant youths of the state for rising to the occasion to crush what it described as the ungodly campaign by some imported and sponsored youths who it said came to the State to campaign against President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement by Kingsley Fanwo,
Commissioner for Information and Communications, said the sponsored youths congregated at Benue State from where they moved to Kogi State and began to paint walls as well as display anti-Buhari posters that were printed in a South South State.

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