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Commuters stranded as two bridges collapse on Minna-Bida, Minna-Zungeru highways  

* Governor threatens to shut state roads to heavy-duty vehicles

From NDUKAIHE UGWU, Abuja

Over 2000 commuters and motorists are right now battling to find alternative roots to their destinations following the collapse of two bridges on the ever-busy Minna-Bida, Minna-Zungeru highways in Niger State in the early hours of yesterday.

Sani Bello, Governor, Niger State

And following the development, the Niger State Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has, for the third time in a row, threatened to shut down the ever busy Minna-Bida highway and other state roads to heavy-duty vehicles following the expiration of the two-week ultimatum given to the federal government to enable it undertake some emergency repairs on the Bida-Agaie-Lapai-Lambata federal road.

The roads leading to Bida from Minna and Minna to Zungeru to Bida have been blocked due to the gridlock occasioned by the collapse of the two bridges with over 2,000, travellers stranded in the last 72 hours, AbeyaNews correspondent reports..

The Governor had two weeks ago closed all the state-owned roads to trailers, trucks and other articulated vehicles due to the deplorable conditions of these roads and in a bid to enable contractors handling the construction work on the Minna-Bida highway speed up the work.

When Niger shut state roads to heavy duty vehicles following failure of federal government to repair its roads in the State

The roads were, however, reopened two days later after an appeal by the federal government, which asked Bello to allow uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to the north, promising to undertake emergency repairs on the Bida-Agaie-Lapai-Lambata road to serve as an alternative route.

Speaking shortly after inspecting the State government’s interventionist works on some bad spots on the Minna-Suleja highway to ease the suffering of travelers, Governor Bello said the State government would have no other choice than to shut the Minna-Bida road to heavy vehicles in the next few days “because the federal government has failed to fulfill its part of the agreement for the reopening of the road.”

The Governor, who expressed displeasure at the gridlock resulting from the collapse of the bridges on Minna-Bida and Bida-Wushishi-Zungeru-Minna roads, warned that “as a government, we will have no choice than to shut down the road to allow the contractor go ahead with their job.”

Emergency repair works on the collapsed section of the Minna-Bida Road

“We agreed with the federal government that the state government should reopen the roads and give them two weeks to enable them carry out some emergency repair work on the Bida-Lapai-Lambata road so as to ease pressure on the Minna-Bida road and to also allow the contractors do their work,” he said.

“But two weeks have passed and nothing has been done; the situation has remained the same. You can see that the situation is getting worse every day and we are running out of patience.

“Based on our agreement with the federal government, I expected that by now, something would have been done to make this road accessible but unfortunately nothing has changed.

“As a government we cannot fold our hands and see our people suffer everyday on this road; we will shut it down any moment from now to enable the contractor return to work. This time around, there will be no going back until the Minna-Bida road is fixed.”

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