The Keffi-Abuja Road constructed many years ago is 29km from Keffi in Nassarawa State to AYA in Federal Capital Territory. The Keffi-Abuja Road is a major link between the Federal Capital Territory and some states in the north central and north eastern zones like Nasarawa, Kaduna, Pleature, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Bornu, Jigawa, e.t.c.
Major communities along this road, or along secondary routes serviced by it, with dense population of workers flocking the capital city on a daily bases are Nyanyan, Karu, Mararaba, Gikwoyi, One-man-village, Masaka, Kurudu, Orozo, Gwandara, Ado, New Nyanya, Kuchikau, etc.
Over the years, the Keffi-Abuja Road has been expanded severally because of its ever rising traffic volume. This increase in traffic volume has compromised the safety designs and factors associated with this road. This large traffic volume is also affecting the productive hours of those coming into Abuja to do business on a daily basis. It also deteriorates the health of the road users who have to stay on traffic for long hours every day. The expressway created by the expansions has encouraged new car owners to venture into the risk of driving on a free, 2-way, 8-lane expressway; hence the several expansions done on the Keffi-Abuja road has been met with an ever increasing traffic volume.
It’s been observed that this crazy traffic on the Keffi-Abuja Road is usually at its peak in the morning from 7.00am to 10.00am, and in the evenings from 5.00pm to 8.00pm, from Mondays to Fridays. This is due to the influx of business men and women coming in and out of Abuja for business purposes, though a few tourists also ply this route. About 75 percent of residents reside in the outskirts of the main city. A population of 776,298 people was recorded for the city of Abuja at the 2006 census. This made it one of the ten most populous cities in Nigeria. According to the United Nations, Abuja grew at the rate of 139.7% between 2000 and 2010, making it the fastest growing city in the world. The city is still experiencing an annual growth of at least 35%, as of 2015.
It, therefore, suffices to say that the continuous expansion of this road is a complete waste of the scarce tax payer’s money. This expansion is not economical and it does not, and has never solved the traffic imbroglio on this axis of Abuja.
A more tactical and economic approach to solving this traffic problem is to strategically decentralize the presence of the Federal Government in the centre. This opportunity cost of previous expansion projects carried out on the Keffi-Abuja road is the only sustainable panacea to the traffic debacle that is affecting our economy and deteriorating our health gradually.
It is of note that the Federal Government has close to 26 Federal Ministries and over 50 Agencies and Parastatals with their headquarters inside a 275.3 square km space called Abuja Municipal, with exception to a few Agencies and Parastatals that are scattered around the country. The landmass of Abuja Municipal is approximately 4% of the entire Federal Capital Territory, which is approximately 7,315 km².
Frankly speaking, most of these MDAs have no business being inside the Abuja Municipal, considering their main focus and purpose of establishing them. The enormous cost of dualizing the Keffi-Abuja road can comfortably set up some of these Ministries in the suburbs as proposed, if functional design and conservative costing is done, and not the usual frivolous cost associated with our Government projects. The Ministries that should, as a matter of necessity, stay in Abuja Municipal are Federal Ministry of Information & Communications, Federal Ministry of Defense, Federal Ministry for Federal Capital Territory (M.F.C.T.), Federal Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministry of Justice and Federal Ministry of Special Duties. These seven (7) Ministries should be close to the Presidency by virtue of their pivotal roles and sensitive nature, while all the other nineteen (19) Ministries should be scattered around the other Local Government Areas of the FCT.
Federal Ministry of Aviation, for instance, should be moved to Giri village, closer to the Airport. Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources should be moved to Manderigi Village in Abaji LGA; Commence and Tourism should be relocated to Zoge village in Kuje Area Council; Federal Ministry of Environment should be moved to Bwoto village in Kuje Area Council; Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation should be moved to Ebo village in Kwali Area Council. Power and Steel Ministry should be moved to Bassa in Gwagwalada LGA; Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development should move to Ushafa village in Bwari; Federal Ministry of Transport should be moved to Gbogbogo in Abaji LGA; Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development should be moved to Iye village in Kuje Area Council; Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports should be moved to Kuchigoro village of Abuja Town, close to sports facilities in the National Stadium;Federal Ministry of Science and Technology should be moved to Kubwa in Bwari Area Council; Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development should be moved to Gulo village of Kwali Area Council; Ministry of Petroleum Resources should be moved toAnini village in Kwali LGA; Federal Ministry of Industries should relocate to Nuku village in Abaji LGA; Health and Social Servies should be relocated to Aduga village in kuje; Education and Youth development should be moved to Puka Village in Kwali Area Council; Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs should be moved to Ibbo village in Gwagwalada LGA and finally, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity should be moved to Yebu village in Kwali LGA.
The above examples are for relocation of the 19 Federal Ministries, it is expected that the over 50 Agencies would also be distributed across the remaining villages of the six LGAs of the FCT.
The resultant effect of decentralizing Government presence in the centre, by moving these non-core MDAs to the Satelite towns includes the following:
1. The Keffi-Abuja Road and other major roads leading into the Municipal will last their design or intended life-span, due to reduced pressure on them.
2. Accident rates will drastically decline due to less vehicular friction.
3. There will be increased output in all business activities in the FCT due to gain in man-hour because of prompt arrival of people to their offices.
4. The health risk of those who patronize the Keffi-Abuja Road daily will drop.
5. The cost of housing in Abuja Municipal will drop drastically.
6. The presence of the MDAs in the Satellite towns will naturally attract private developers to those villages/areas, thereby stimulating conventional development.
7. Strong presence of the Federal Government in many villages in all the LGAs of the FCT will stimulate the construction of functional means of inter-connectivity between many of the villages in the LGAs such as Highway transport, Railway and water ways transport.
8. The construction of more better access road across the villages of FCT means that the local farmers will have access to competitive market for their farm produce.
9. More people will be encouraged to go into agriculture because of the increased income experienced in item 9 above, and so this will reduce the rural-urban migration, and hence reduce the crime wave in the urban cities of the FCT.
Having previously discussed the first five benefits above, it is important to further discuss some of the other benefits mentioned above.
When the Ministry of Health and Social Services relocates to Aduga village in kuje, all the Agencies and private firms dealing with them on a daily basis would logically relocate closer to their source of activity and existence to reduce their running cost. They would want to be closer to where the decisions are taken, not Abuja Municipal. This is applicable to the numerous staff of all the relocated MDAs and their contractors. They will all look for befitting apartments in the environment around their ministries.
If all the non-core Ministries and Agencies relocate from Abuja Municipal, there will be an exodus of staff moving out of the ridiculously –prized apartments in Abuja Municipal to the suburbs. This will result to having more apartments than people in Abuja Municipal and this will force down the price of housing in Abuja Municipal.
It wound not be proper to end this discuss without referring to the statement made by the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Mohammad Sule on Sunday, 15th February 2015, that an end was in sight to the traffic snarl suffered by Nigerians plying the Abuja-Keffi expressway to get to Abuja. He went further to give an update on the level of completion of the Karshi-Apo-Ara road, which the Government is constructing as an alternative route to the traffic-laden Abuja-Keffi road. For those who see the suitable completion of this alternative route (Karshi-Apo-Ara Road) as an end to this traffic grid-lock on the Abuja-Keffi road, they will be disappointed to find out in some years’ time that the traffic volume will also soar like the Abuja-Keffi Road, but by then a colossal amount of the tax payers money would have been wasted in chasing shadows again.
However, when these decentralization and mass exodus out of the Municipal takes place, these satellite towns will have no choice but to develop naturally.
One can see how one genuine non-egocentric government fiscal policy can create wealth for the people, reduce hardship and enhance the economy. This forgone alternative that the government has never thought of in the continuous expansion of the Keffi-Abuja Road, is a win-win solution for both the Government, the Road users and inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory.
The choice of the opportunity cost over the long preferred option of expanding the Keffi-Abuja Road will certainly not be without some selfish resistance and frustrations from the present beneficiaries of the present structure – the Shylock landlords that own several estates in Abuja Municipal, some government workers that have given out their plazas to their MDAs to rent with exorbitant amounts, etc. These classes of people are ready to die to maintain the present status quo of wasteful spending by Government without results.
Engr Ovens Festus Ehimatie