By Ali Abare
Since the dawn of the Engineer Abdullahi Sule administration in Nasarawa State, deliberate steps are being taken to diversify the economy of the state, in the determination to wean Nasarawa from over reliance on federal allocation.
One of such initiatives was the official flagging-off of the construction work on the 900-vehicle capacity Karu Mega Bus Terminal in December last year, which is estimated to cost N1.9bn.
With the commencement of the project, Governor Sule took a bold step towards not only tackling the internal revenue issue of the state but also addressing the perennial traffic congestion along the Keffi-Abuja expressway, particularly along the Mararaba-Nyanya axis.
The Karu bus terminal when completed, is expected to not only generate much needed revenue to the state but also address the ever recurrent traffic congestion along the Mararaba-Nyanya axis.
Performing the ground breaking ceremony at the site of the project, Governor Sule reiterated the determination of his administration to provide critical infrastructure aimed at improving the standard of living of the people, as well as create employment opportunities.
According to the Governor, the project will also ease off the perpetual traffic congestion leading to the FCT.
Now, nine months into the project, which is expected to be completed in 53 weeks, Principal Partner, Canonic Associates, consultants for the project, Architect Shehu Tukur, said the project is on course, with presently work at 38 percent completion.
The Karu Bus Terminal project, according to the consultant, has the terminal building as its major component, where arrivals, banking hall restaurant are all included. The ticketing area, the departure and loading bay are all within the terminal building.
“The terminal building is one of the most important component, just like the terminal building at airport. We have the cargo unit, if you have a parcel, document and goods you want to deliver to certain areas, you cannot bring it to the terminal building, you take it to the cargo area where it will be sorted out.
“If you are anticipating goods, once it arrive, you go to the cargo unit and collect it.
“We have public toilets, about two, we have the drivers lounge, shops, vehicle washing area, all within the project and to complement each other for the benefit of commuters, drivers and the larger society that this project is intended to serve,” he explained.
Tukur who recently spoke on the progress of work on the site of the project, expressed hope that though the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, with its consequential lockdowns, has affected the pace of work, still contractors on site are working hard to try to meet the targeted timeline for the project.
“Sincerely speaking, this is a very important project for Nasarawa State. It’s a very important project for Karu-Abuja corridor. This is a project that will bring a lot of relief to traffic, to commuters, to anybody plying this route, either from the Northeast, South-south or from part of Northcentral.
“Whoever that is plying this route will certainly have some form of relief. Then talk less of the people within the state, it will bring employment, it will bring sanity, security and the traffic congestion within Karu-Mararaba will certainly go down,” Architect Tukur said.
He disclosed that it is expected that by the time the project is completed, 37 motor parks located along the Mararaba-Nyanya axis, licensed by the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board (NUDB), will all collapse into the Karu bus terminal, thus introducing sanity along the expressway leading into the FCT.
“Our target is that by the time this project is completed, these 37 motor parks will all collapse into the bus terminal. And we have 900 vehicle parking capacity and this is far more than enough for the entire 37 parks,” Tukur explained.
Also commenting on the project, Special Adviser to the Nasarawa State Governor on Investment and Economic Planning, Barrister Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the bus terminal fits into the administration’s vision for the transport sector of the state.
“It’s meant to ease transportation of goods and people within the state. It will provide the conducive atmosphere for ease of transportation. We also hope to generate significantly some revenue from the project being a commercially viable project,” the SA stated.
According to the principal consultant for the project, with three different contractors working on site, the project will be delivered three months ahead of the scheduled timeline for its completion.
“We are 38 percent completion as at today, of the entire project. You can recall that we have three contractors and they are working at the same time, as at now.
“You can see the bulldozer there working, that’s the contractor doing the civil work. The lot two doing the terminal building and then lot three are the ones constructing the public toilet, drivers lounge and the cargo area, fencing,” he said.
Tukur stated that work on the project would have been completed by December this year but because of the coronavirus pandemic, contractors lost almost three months.
“But even during that time, there were some skeletal work going on but it was lockdown period. And as of now, the contractors are on track and since the lockdown was lifted, we have not had any issue of delay from the contractors. They are really working round the clock. We are certainly not going to meet the December target, for sure we are going to exceed till March next year,” the project consultant said.
At site, hundreds of workers works daily to earn their livelihood, with the project already generating much needed employment for engineers, technicians, artisans, labourers, food vendors, among several others benefitting directly or indirectly from the project.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of workers working on this site. It all depends on the day that you come here.
“There are three companies on the site. Because His Excellency agreed that the job be awarded to three companies, at least each should come with its set of workers and equipment and be able to fast track the job and extend the economic benefits to various companies and workers within the Nigerian society. We have hundreds of workers, masons, artisans, security guards, labourers, etc,” Tukur explained.
Already, as can be attested by workers on site, Nigerians, especially indigenes of Nasarawa State, are beginning to benefit from the ongoing project, as hundreds of workers at the project site earn their keeps on a daily basis.
Mohammed Raji Dogo, a site engineer with Stonegate Construction company, one of the firms handling the project, expressed satisfaction with the progress of work, in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19.
“For the progress of work, we are doing the best. Even despite the challenges of COVID-19, we tried to carry on with skeletal work. That is why we have no problem with the job.
“We have lots of people coming here daily, almost every day. Large number of people work here on daily basis, earning their livelihood.
“We have about 11 buildings under construction and each building we have at least 20 workers, which I belief is a good thing,” Dogo said.
Also speaking, Emmanuel Ayoola, one of the supervisors on site, said since the project started, lots of people have benefited and many are still benefitting because people are coming everyday looking for work and that the firms have been engaging them in one or two things, so that they can also thank God and the Nasarawa State government for starting this big project.
On what plans are being put in place to ensure sustainability of the project after completion, especially when viewed against the backdrop of similar public ventures, usually commenced with fun fare but left to rot after completion, Architect Tukur was optimistic that with Engineer Sule, no project will suffer such fate.
He added that already, Governor Sule has given the go ahead for the consultant to put in place a management framework for the Karu Mega Bus Terminal, with the consultant working round the clock from the commencement of the project to produce an acceptable management framework that will benefit the state, users of the place and whoever that will come there to transact one business or the other.
“We are on track to get a framework that will make it operate smoothly,” Architect Tukur said.
Abare is a Special Assistant on Media to His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, Executive Governor of Nasarawa State.