By Abdullahi S. Magaji
Not everyone loves driving for hours, but I do. For me, the adventure that comes with long trips is something that I enjoy. Each road trip leaves me with a new experience, both memorable and unique.
As a regular traveller within the northern part of Nigeria, the state and condition of roads, and impact on the journey has always been of interest to me. I am keenly aware of the difference between a bumpy ride versus a smooth road, an enjoyable journey versus the exhausting stop and go of dilapidated roads. And through my well-travelled eyes, I see what difference good roads make on the surrounding communities, and on me. Perhaps, it is for this reason, that I picked keen interest when Julius Berger began the rehabilitation and expansion of the road from the Federal Capital Territory Abuja to Kano.
For my childhood friend, now a mechanized farmer in Kano, there is more to a road than smooth travel and convenience. According to him agriculture is by far the most important sector of the economy, and a good road network will only enable growth and increased trading capacity for farmers like him in the country. “Quality roads are what we are missing and what we need to grow the agriculture business, not just me, but all farmers”, he told me, in one of our recent conversations. I did not doubt him. It looked obvious that the road network in the region is having a direct impact on his livelihood and rightly so, regularly a large number of essential food commodities leave his farm in Kano, to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Many like him, who live and work in the northern region, agree that that the road is essential not just to their needs, but also to bringing diverse people together and connecting them with their countrymen. I understood this knowing that the majority of our agricultural produce in Nigeria are transported from the north to the south through this road. The grains, tomatoes, fruits, sorghums and even livestock that feed other parts of the country, comes through this road.
In one of my most recent trips through the north, I parked my car on a soft shoulder near the ongoing construction at one section of the Abuja-Kano Road, my love for buildings and infrastructure projects will not let me just pass by. While observing the dedication of workers on the site, from the worker operating a dozer, to another man levelling the roadbed, and all the heavy-duty equipment in sight, the quality of the road construction so far caught my attention – and the professionalism I could see for myself. I have no scintilla of doubt that the road is being built to last for so long.
When I got back to my car to continue my journey, I could not but think about the road journeys I would enjoy on this road, the enhanced social integration it will bring and the improved commercial activities that it will foster, I look forward to the completion, with keen interest.