By Abubakar Hassan

collapsed tatatu bridge

The collapsed Tatabu Bridge in Molwa LGA of Niger State

The Niger State Government has declared a state of emergency on all the federal roads in the state, saying they are no longer safe for road users.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Jonathan Tsado Vatsa made the declaration, Tuesday, when he led a team of Journalists to Tatabu Community in Mokwa Local Government Area of the state where a bridge linking the Northern and Western part of Nigeria collapsed last Sunday night.

“On behalf of His Excellency the Acting Governor of Niger State, we as a government declared on our Federal roads in Niger state, a state of emergency. The road users should be careful, they should be conscious because anything can happen. The Federal roads in Niger State are no longer safe, “Mr. Vatsa declared.

He noted that the collapsed Tatabu Bridge had cut off the Northern and the Western part of the country thereby paralyzing economic activities along the axis and also causing untold hardship to the people around that area.

Mr. Vatsa further observed that the only alternative that would have help in moving goods and services from the North to West and vise versa before the bridge is reconstructed is through the rail, but that the flood did not spare even the rail line that pass through the area.

He added that the only alternative route left linking the North and the West was through Okene in Kogi State, and alleged fears that the price of goods will rise due to a long route taken to move the goods from either North to the West or from West to North.

He then made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works to as a matter of urgent importance get a reputable construction company to fix the Tatabu Bridge. According to him, the masses will be subjected to untold hardships because they are at the receiving end.

Mr. Vatsa also appreciated the fact that the contract to fix the Bokani Bridge had been awarded and called on the contractor to move in with his equipment to start the work. “I am happy that the contract of the Bokani Bridge has been awarded, I am using this medium to call on the contractor to move to site immediately,” he added.

Also, the state Commissioner for works and Transport, Hon. Abdulmalik Dagaci Cheche said the state government has no capacity to shoulder the responsibility of fixing the bridge, saying “this is beyond the capacity of state government.”

He disclosed that the present administration in Niger State under the leadership of Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello had intervened in many federal roads in the state, including the wash away along Makera-Tegina Road which gulp over N200 million, but that this one is too expensive for the state government to handle.

The Commissioner said his Ministry will compile all the report and send to the federal ministry of works and that of transport, believing that something will be done urgently in that regards.

He also blamed motorists for carrying more than the required capacity for luggage, revealing that the capacity of luggage should not exceed 33,000 but our motorists carry up to about 80,000.

Baba Adamu Tatabu, a former councillor from Tatabu community told journalists at the scene of the incidence, Tuesday, that they have never witnessed such incidence before, saying although no life was lost, but residential buildings and farmlands, including the Fadama III Irrigation Farm provided for the community were washed away by the flood caused by a heavy down pour.

He also informed journalists that the minor rehabilitation and expansion of the bridge during Olusegun Obasanjo regime was part of the reason the bridge collapsed.

“At that time two vehicles cannot pass through the bridge, one has to wait for the other one to pass. When they want to expand it, instead of constructing a new one that will accommodate two vehicles at a time they only construct an attachment to the former one. That is how the bridge started having problem,” he explained.

Mohammed Isah Tatabu, a health worker with Mokwa Local Government also told journalists that since he was born he had never witness such a heavy down pour in the area and called on both the state and Federal government to as a matter of urgency come to their aid.

“We want government to come to our aid. They should come and repair this bridge urgently, you can see that all economic activities in this area have stop. We can no longer take our goods to Jebba or Ilorin and the people from that side cannot come here too for business,” he said.

The flood caused by a heavy down pour also washed away farmlands, houses, railway line and electric poles and cables causing total darkness to Mokwa town and its environs. A petroleum tanker and a lorry filled with gallons of Total Engine oil were seen inside the collapsed bridge when journalists visited the scene of the incident.