The Senate on Tuesday urged the Federal Ministry of Works to designate the Makurdi–Otukpo-Obollo-Afor-Opii-Nsukka-9th Mile Federal Trunk A highway for immediate dualisation.
It also mandated its Committee on Works to ascertain the state of the road and called on security agencies to increase surveillance on the road to protect commuters against activities of criminals.
The resolution followed a motion by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, which was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers present.
Presenting the motion earlier, Utazi said that in spite of the fact that the road, constructed in 1978, was critical for economic development, it had remained in a state of disrepair.
He said that the road was the only major highway that connected the South-East to the northern part of the country.
The lawmaker said that the road was the only Trunk “A’’ highway that had remained a single lane in spite of the volume of traffic on it daily.
“The high level of road crashes and the carnage that happens on the road on a daily basis should be a source of worry to the government.
“Also, the travel time between Makurdi and 9th Mile used to be 194 minutes, about three hours, but with the total collapse of the road, travel time now averages nine long hours.
“It is disturbing that armed robbers now take advantage of the deplorable state of the road by ambushing, dispossessing, raping and killing commuters,’’ he said.
Sen. Shehu Sani (Kaduna-APC) said that it was pathetic that attention was not paid to roads plied by poor Nigerians.
“We have been in this chamber for close to two years and we have said a lot about the state of our roads.
“Roads that have over the years consumed lives and rendered many helpless. The Makurdi-9th Mile highway is one of such roads,’’ he said.
Sani said that the only road that had received attention in the last few months was the Abuja-Kaduna because of the calibre of people that use it.
“So, there is a class dimension to our definition of tragedy in this country. It is defined in terms of which class it actually affects,’’ he said.
He stressed that in spite of the huge budgetary allocation, Nigerian roads were still in a state of disrepair.
Sen. Theodore Orji (Abia-PDP) said that the state of the 9th Mile road was pathetic, adding that it had been neglected in spite of its importance to socio-economic activities in the country.
He said that wreckages of vehicles littered the road as a result of accidents, and that there was absence of adequate security as armed robbers always had “filled day’’ there.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, said that the state of roads should be of concern to lawmakers.
He said that it was time for the government to be innovative in the process of providing infrastructure in the country.
“We are all concerned and I want to thank you for your patriotism in this respect because we are all travellers and we move around.
“We must also explore the possibility of privatisation which is the way road infrastructure is being tackled in most parts of the world.
“All we need to do is to simplify our concession processes because that has been a major hindrance,’’ Ekweremadu said.
He said that if the prayers in the motion and suggestions given by lawmakers were adhered to, much would be achieved.
He added that if the Private-Public-Partnership initiative was implemented, it would complement federal government’s effort.