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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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Fashola inaugurates 1.67km internal road network at Fed. University Lokoja

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Fashola inaugurates 1.67km internal road network at Fed. University Lokoja


By Friday Idachaba


The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has inaugurated and handed over a 1.67-kilometre internal road network rehabilitated at the Federal University Lokoja, to the management of the institution.

Fashola while Inaugurating the road on Tuesday in Lokoja said it was part of the Federal Government’s intervention on rehabilitation of internal roads in 43 Federal tertiary institutions across the country which commenced in 2018.

The Minister who was represented by Engr Olatunde Kajogbola, Federal Controller of Works in Kogi State, said more than 18 such interventions had been completed and were being handed over to the various Federal tertiary institutions.

He said that while it was true that a lot needed to be done in all the sectors of the country’s national life including Education, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had stepped up to lead the process of getting the work done.

“The gap of our infrastructure needs is steadily being bridged by a gradual process of repairs, renewal and construction on major highways and it has reached the schools.

“It is undebatable that quality education will be impacted by the quality of infrastructure and the learning environment. Currently there are more than 43 such interventions in internal roads within tertiary institutions across Nigeria

“And the students are expressing a renewed enthusiasm with regard to attending classes because some defective roads have been restored to motorability”, he said.

Prof. Angela Miri, Vice Chancellor of the University in her response said there was no doubt that the completion of the project had added value and brought about improvement of ambience of students and staff to the institution.

Miri who was represented by Dr Sarah Dauda Yani, Chief Librarian said, “A city without roads is not known” adding that the intervention and the culminating ambience had placed the institution first among its equals.

She acknowledged the good will and gesture of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as well as the Federal Ministry of Education for the intervention projects in the “Baby but great university.”

The Vice Chancellor also implored the Minister to consider performing similar feat at the permanent site of the university by intervening in the construction of its internal road network.

“Don’t be tired of us sir. Indeed, we are still growing and by the grace of God with your hand of help upon us, we will reach the destination we dream of”, Miri implored.

In his vote of thanks, Engr Ojo Olukayode, Acting Director, Physical Planning and Development, commended the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for a job well done. (NAN)

FDJ/

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Kogi Govt donates food items to widows of fallen heroes

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Kogi Govt donates food items to widows of fallen heroes

By Aliyu Abubakar

As part of the activities to Mark the just concluded Nigeria Army Day celebration, Kogi State Security Trust Fund, has donated consumable items to families of the fallen heroes at Command Army Record, Lokoja.
Presenting the food items, the Executive Chairman Kogi State Security Trust Fund, Hon Samari Teina Abdulmalik, who was represented by the Acting Board Secretary, Mrs Ajayi Grace, said, the gesture was to put smiles on the faces of widows of the fallen heroes as their husbands colleagues celebrate the Nigeria Army Day.
Samari, urged the fallen heroes’ wives to be strong and courageous, “I want to urge you wives of our fallen heroes to be courageous and engage in positive ventures that will create better life for you and your children in future.”
” Please accept the token presentation of various items and use them judiciously as we hope to come up with more programmes of mutual benefits.” He said.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Commander, Command Army Record, Maj- Gen. O. O Sholaye, who was represented by the Personal Assistant to the Commander, Staff Sergeant, Konto Ibrahim, thanked the State Government, for the gesture.
He prayed for the Governor, the families of fallen heroes and the fallen heroes, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for peace and unity of our dear country Nigeria.

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Multi-billion naira PH hotel: Ebonyi indigenes tackle Umahi over ownership

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Multi-billion naira PH hotel: Ebonyi indigenes tackle Umahi over ownership

Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has asked Governor David Umahi to speak up over a viral picture of a multi-billion Naira hotel located in Rivers state, allegedly named after Osborn Umahi.

The association expressed concern that the governor had maintained the sealed lips since the images of the said Port-Harcourt Osborn La Palm Hotel went viral on the social media.

The hotel which is almost completed is said to be worth about N40 billion.

In a statement released to newsmen Sunday in Abuja, by its President, Amb Pascal Oluchukwu, urged the anti-graft agencies to begin to gather their facts and evidences in case of any fow play.

According to AESID, the said hotel is located in the heart of the oil-rich city of Port-Harcourt, Rivers state specifically at No. 3 Olaka Street, off Abacha Road, G.R.A, Port-Harcourt has a roof-top swimming pool and a Presidential Penthouse as one of its many special features.

The statement said: “The fact that the said hotel project started just in 2016 is even more worrisome for the indigenes of a state like Ebonyi where endemic and anthropogenic poverty is the order of the day, having been accurately ranked the poorest state in the entire Southern Nigeria and the 3rd poorest among the 36 States of the Nigerian Federation.

“Our position on this revelation is that Governor Umahi must speak up on this monumental allegations within 24 hours and the anti-graft agencies should begin to gather their facts and evidences aright and await the days of reckoning, knowing that immunity protects him from being prosecuted by the Nigerian government even at this point.”

The Ebonyi governance and accountability platform said: “We believe it should be wisdom for Governor Wike to revoke the land where the said hotel is situated especially if Umahi fails to open-up on these weighty allegations against his person.”

Reacting to the spate of insecurity in the state, AESID said its deeply worried that the political actors, have continued to heat up the polity by dispensing mindless violence, killing and maiming innocent and helpless Ebony citizens particularly those in opposition parties.

“To this end therefore, AESID, again calls on the Police and indeed, all heads of intelligent security agencies to uncover and nip these killings in the bud and bring all perpetrators of these heinous attacks to book no matter how highly placed.”

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