Still on the Abandoned Miango-Chawai Road
By Victor Gai
The Miango-Chawai Road is a ‘Trunk A’ road which has remained partially n0n-motorable since the colonial era. It connects Miango in Bassa LGA of Plateau State with Chawai in Kauru LGA of Kaduna State.
This road is very important because it links some commercial towns like Damakasuwa, Saminaka and Ungwan Bawa in Kaduna as well as serves as a ‘short cut’ between Kaduna and Jos cities. Therefore, the abandonment of this important road has become a source of serious concern for Nigerians who really mean well for this country. Despite its economic, social and security importance to the country, the authorities have failed to give it the needed attention.
The people of Southern Kaduna in general and Chawai in particular have historical affinities with the Irigwe people of Plateau State which border on culture, religion, marriage, etc. But due to the poor state of this road, there has been a social dislocation amongst these peoples. Apart from commercial vehicles, like trucks and pick-ups, used in transporting goods to markets in both states, passenger vehicles hardly ply the road due to its poor state and security concerns.
The only option left for relatives, friends and kinsmen who wish to see each other is to travel through Kagoro and Saminaka in Kaduna State or Vom in Plateau State, which takes several hours. But it would have taken less than an hour to get to both ends if the road was good. Therefore, the negative effects this situation has had on the social system and cultural solidarity of tribes in both states cannot be quantified.
Miango town has one of the biggest rural markets in Plateau State. This can be attested to by the influx of traders from Jos city, Jos South, Riyom and Barakin Ladi in Plateau State and Saminaka, Chawai, Damakasuwa and Ungwan Bawa in Kaduna State. Yams, honey, grains, vegetables, livestock, charcoal, etc, are brought from rural areas while cloth, shoes, provisions and other commodities from the cities and towns are traded in this Thursday market.
The market is a major source of livelihood for Irigwe people and neighbouring communities. Transporters of goods and passengers across towns and villages, commercial motorcyclists, labourers, middlemen, wholesalers and retailers always look forward to the Thursday market. Beer parlours, eateries and snack sellers make brisk business even late into the night on market days. The same can be said of the markets in Chawai, Damakasuwa, Saminaka and Ungwan Bawa towns in Kaduna State which are also rich in primary products. But the poor nature of this road has adversely affected these markets and the resultant economic losses are unquantifiable.
The poor nature of this road also has security implications for its border communities. It is important to state that there has never been any security presence along this important road, except for the occasional deployment of security operatives following attacks on surrounding villages by suspected Fulani herdsmen or bandits. In the past, the road was even used for smugglers of cars and other contrabands.
The smugglers abandoned this route because when it become the hotbed of killer herdsmen and armed militia. The smugglers must have realised that the road had now become a death trap for them. The Chawai people are now forced to trek the very long distance to the Miango market while the Hausa traders who used to bring goods from Kaduna State to the market have long stopped the business. This is not unconnected to the almost decade-long attacks by Fulani herdsmen on the Irigwe people which have left over 300 of them dead and property worth millions of naira destroyed. The road is presently a no-go area as people are routinely waylaid or ambushed.
As state governors stop inter-state travels in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, such ‘ungoverned’ areas could be turned into illegal crossings unless, of course, the potential law breakers are deterred by the terrorists therein. That is the complicated situation that needs the urgent attention of security agencies and the state and federal governments.
Gai is a journalist and social commentator