In Kogi, Streets Lights Are Historical Relics

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Street lightening used to be a major obsession for successive administrations in Kogi State. But today, the poles are mere historical relics, writes Atabor Julius

Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, which does  not only pride itself as the confluence of the North and South, but provides  access to over 16 states through  and from Abuja the federal capital of the country. It equally provides navigation for citizens of many states and some countries that may want to explore the splendour of waterway travels through the confluence of rivers Niger and Benue.

Lokoja’s vantage position for connexion to both the road and river transportation will ultimately draw commendations when things are done properly while it will attract the anger of the citizenry when it could not meet their expectations.

In the light of this dilemma, successive administrations in the state have laboured to obey the injunction of the Most High God who said “let there be light in the streets of Lokoja” by erecting poles for the electrification of streets light across the ancient city of Lokoja, the state capital.

From Felele through Murtala Muhammed  expressway/IBB way  to the  Army Barracks,  Ganaja Junction to Ganaja village  and NTA junction to Government House, the story of the electricity  poles on these streets without lights have  become a historical adornment  of sort  rather than a monument.

Year in year out millions, of naira were being budgeted for the upgrade and maintenance of the Lokoja township streets light but alas the bulbs hardly lit for a week before it became malfunctioned, leaving night motorists and pedestrians at the mercy of men of the underworld. Unlike her contemporary state capitals, like Minna, Niger State, Dutse, Jigawa and Lafia, the capital of Nassarawa State, where  driving  in the night is  fun as the major streets are adorned with functional street lights, Lokoja is a nightmare.

According to Bulus Kigbu, a cab driver in Lafia noted that the state government has explored both solar and electric energy to power their streets light across the Lafia metropolis. He stated that a motorist, who may have a faulty headlamp driving within the town in the night may not need to worry at all, since all the major streets have functional lights, thereby making night life in the state pleasurable.

He added that the people of the state are having it good in terms of road management as the government ensures that the streets are well kept and the streets light maintained. In the same vein, Minna, capital of Niger state is pleasurable to both night crooners and motorists.

From Maikunkele, an outskirt of Minna to chanchanga, street light which is an admixture of electric and solar-powered lights functions efficiently throughout the night. According to Olamide Sunday, from Osun state, who operates taxi in Minna, driving through Minna metropolis does not necessarily required headlamp on.

He added that the incidence of men of the underworld operating under the cover of darkness is not applicable in Minna as streets lights are on all the major streets.

Paradoxically, Kogi State could not borrow a leaf from the neighbouring states.  The functionality of their street lights, despite millions of naira pumped into the streets light project, is a disappointment.

Lamenting his ordeal, Mr. Chinedu Okechuku, a traveller from Abuja connecting Lokoja to his home town Arochukwu in Imo State, got a bitter deal from night thieves when his vehicle broke down in Lokoja.

He said barely 10pm on that fateful day, the entire city was enveloped into darkness as there was no working streets light thereby giving leeway for the bad boys to rob him of his belongings under the cover of darkness.

Speaking to THISDAY on the deplorable state of the  street lights in Lokoja, a publisher of Kogi Watchnews Magazine, Mr. Dansuleiman  Amuda alias Fab,  lamented at the unprofessional conduct of the contractors that handled the street  light  project  and the lukewarm attitude of the state government to properly  supervise  the contractors.

He went on the memory lane saying when the multi-million naira street light contract for Ganaja Junction to Ganaja village was awarded to Zerock Construction Company by the former governor, the people and motorists thought they would heave a sigh of relief, but they were dead wrong.

“After two months of its functioning, it went off till today. As far as I’m concerned, there is no functional street light in the Lokoja metropolis. The ones from the federal medical centre junction to Government House, are working because they are being powered by the Government House generator,” he disclosed.

He said former governor Ibrahim Idris did award the street lights contract to some Lokoja indigenous company, Elassy. “We discovered that a pole cost one million naira. We also discovered that from new market to Meme bridge, there were 68 poles, making the contract sum N68m. The contractors supplied substandard materials which do not function for six months before they parked off.”

Amuda praised the former government of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris for awarding the contract but took a swipe on the contractors for doing a shoddy job even as, according to him, the government officials saddled with the responsibility of monitoring the work looked the other way when substandard materials were used.

He wondered why the sons of Lokoja, Alhaji Bala Salifu now an APC chieftain and Julius Arosonjoye still with PDP, were given a contract to lighten their town, Lokoja, decided to betray their people by supplying substandard materials.

He advised the government to recall the contractors to site to complete the job rather than award new ones for the reactivation, while suggesting that the contractors should be made to return every kobo collected for doing a substandard job.

THISDAY learnt that the ministry of works may have connived with the contractors to short-change the state. According to a source, the ministry which is  supposed to get approval of certification of job done from due process office on the recommendation  from the state  Project Monitoring office  before issuing a certificate for the payment for the contract done usually gives  the contractors  certificates without the job complying to specification.

The source also disclosed that before the advent of this administration, certificates for the completion of jobs are raised without recourse to the project monitoring unit in the office of the governor to ascertain its compliance to specification and international best practices, adding that this was responsible for shoddy jobs and sometimes outright abandonment of projects that now adorn the state.

However, with repeated failed appointments to see the commissioner for works for comments, what is certain is that the officials of the ministry may not be able to wash their hands off the sham called Lokoja street light project.


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