RAMP ROADBy Abubakar Hassan

Niger state Governor, Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello has reiterated the commitment of his administration towards Infrastructural development of rural communities in the state.

He stated this at the official flag-off of Surface Dressing of 250km rural roads rehabilitated under the Rural Access and Mobility Project II (RAMP 2) implementation in the state, held at Abuchi road, Izom, in Gurara Local Government Area, recently.

The Governor, represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Haliru Zakari Jikantoro disclosed that the first phase of the project covered a distance of 176 km with 30 river crossings, while the second phase had a total distance of 403.5km at various stages of completion, in addition to 169km of rural roads that were also rehabilitated under the Spot Improvement and Annual Mechanized Maintenance Intervention.

He also revealed that the entire projects were part of the World Bank (WB) and French Development Agency (FDA) co-financed initiative to improve transport conditions and bring sustained access to the rural populace through rehabilitation and maintaining key rural transport infrastructure in a sustainable manner.

The governor disclosed that the surface dressing will increase the durability of the roads in serving the people, adding that the government had to do this to ensure that the huge investment in constructing the earthen roads does not go down the drains, Gov Bello affirmed that the six roads earmarked for this purpose all have the potentials for high volume of traffic and are spread across the three geo-political zones of the state, which includes, Suleja-Abuchi-Izom road, Wuya Suman-Lemu, Old Gawu-Farindoki, Kampanin Bobi-Bangi, Kutigi-Tashan Hajiya and Wuya Kanti-EtsuTasha road.

He further disclosed that the surface dressing of the roads will cost the state government over N6 billion, adding that the timely intervention of the government to embark on surface dressing of these rural roads further demonstrates his administration’s total commitment to improve the economic status of the people and the desire to change the deteriorating state of the road infrastructure across the state.

The project according to the governor, will drastically reduce the cost of transporting farm produce to the markets while reducing undue loss of perishable goods as well as increasing the productivity of our farmers, and that when these projects are completed they will help to promote economic growth, social security, wealth creation and all year round access to basic services and facilities in the state.

He appreciated the support of development partners in making it possible for the linking up of over 391 communities to socio-economic activities in the state; the state will continue to collaborate and support the implementation of various development partner interventions to deepen our gains from the agricultural value chain and that he had already given his consent for the state to participate in the implementation of RAMP 3 activities to further consolidate on the state government rural outreach.

While commending the state implementation unit of the state partnership programmes, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello challenged the benefiting rural communities to take advantage of the gesture to ensure diligent maintenance of the projects.

Earlier in his welcome address, the permanent secretary of the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ibrahim Garba Musa said that this is another milestone and a turning point in the rural communities’ development initiatives of the present administration in the state under the leadership of Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello.

He said that the roads selected for the upgrade were carefully done in clear manifestation of government’s commitment towards delivering dividends of democracy to the people of the state, saying the ministry was determined to transform the agricultural sector to be the stimulating driving force of the state economy.

He explained that this can be achieved through ensuring self sufficiency in food and cash crops production as well as generating employment and wealth creation, adding that they will continue to leverage on the vast opportunities and its comparative advantage in production of rice, soya bean, maize, cassava, oil palm, cashew, cotton, yam among others and to encourage both domestic and foreign investment in the sector to promote value addition in the agricultural sector.

While appreciating the state governor for his continued support to the sector, he also called on genuine investors to take advantage of the vast opportunities in the agricultural sector of the state which includes arable land for mechanized farming, conducive vegetation, large water bodies for large irrigation and favourable government policies.

In his remark also, the state coordinator of RAMP, Hassan Baba Etsu said it was in the wisdom of the state governor that he approved the surface dressing of the roads to increase its durability, adding that barriers will also be mounted on the beginning and end of the roads to prevent heavy duty vehicles from plying the roads because RAMP roads were not designed to carry heavy duty vehicles.

On RAMP III, the coordinator said the state was ever ready to kick start the project, saying the state government had provided the enabling environment in terms of structure, counterpart funding and political will, adding that the RAMP III will come with some other components such as building schools, clinics, storage facilities as well as upgrade of some market facilities.