Tanker drivers have continued their protest for the fourth day in Bida, Niger State, blocking major exits from the town.
The drivers, who vowed to continue the protest for as long as three months, also said they will not leave until the Minna-Bida Road is reopened.
One of the drivers, Mohammed Liman, lamented that the poor state of roads in the state has led to the loss of lives and properties. He blamed the Niger State Government for the delay in the construction of the road (Minna-Bida).
Another one, Baba Abdullahi, said some of the tanker drivers were being abducted due to the bad roads; calling for their immediate renovation.
According to Mohammed Tasiu, a tanker driver, the Bida-Lapai-Lambata road has been their route over the years. He, however, claimed the government had abandoned the road, making it a nightmare.
The road is no longer motorable for them, especially trailers, hence the need for the protest, he added. He also called on the government to open the only alternative – Bida-Minna Road – for them to ply.
But some residents of the state have faulted calls for the reopening of the Bida Minna Road for the tanker drivers.
For Usman Suleiman, the protest in Bida is worrisome and the drivers’ action has paralyzed economic activities in the area.
He insisted that the Minna-Bida Road should not be opened for the trailer drivers because of the adverse effects such would have on the road. According to him, the Federal Government should be blamed for abandoning the dilapidated road for too long.
One resident, Saidu Isah, expressed sadness over the development. Although he did not blame the drivers for the protest, he decried the effect of their action on the masses.
The situation, he appealed, should not be allowed to deteriorate into confrontation as he called for dialogue among major stakeholders to tackle the issue.
While responding to the development, the Niger State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructural Development, Mamman Musa insisted that the Minna-Bida Road will remain closed, explaining that heavy duty trucks will not be allowed on the road until the work is finished.
Meanwhile, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (Niger State) and the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations have given a forty-eight hour ultimatum to the Petroleum Tanker Driver’s Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to vacate the Suleja-Lambata-Bida Road or face mass civil action.
In a statement on Saturday, the Chairman of the council, Bello Sheriff, lamented the drivers’ action, adding that it has brought hardship and uncertainty to motorists plying the road.