The Miango-Chawai road is a Trunk A road which has remained partially unpliable since the colonial era. The road connects Miango in Bassa LGA of Plateau State with Chawai in Kauru LGA of Kaduna State.
It is very important because it connects some commercial towns like Damakasuwa, Saminaka, Ungwan Bawa, in Kaduna as well as a ‘short cut’ between the cities of Kaduna and Jos.
It holds a huge security implication for both States and Northern Nigeria too.
But how this important road has been abandoned and hardly discussed over the years, is an issue to be pondered on by citizens of Nigeria who mean well for this country.
Unfortunately, despite its economic, social and security implications, the authorities have hardly given any attention to it for the strategic reasons I will discuss immediately.
•Social Implication: The people of southern Kaduna in general and Chawai, in particular, have a historical affinity with the Irigwe people which borders on culture, religion, marital ties and so on. Due to the poor state of this road, there has been a social dislocation which could have been fixed if the road was in good shape. Apart from commercial vehicles like trucks and pick-ups which are used in transporting goods to markets in both States, passenger vehicles hardly ply the road due to its poor state and of course security.
Relatives, friends and kinsmen only have the option of going through Kagoro, Saminaka in Kaduna or Vom in Plateau to visit each other. This takes several hours whereas it would take less than an hour to get to both ends of the road was good. Therefore, it can not be quantified in sociological terms, the injury this situation has caused to the social system and cultural solidarity of tribes in both states.
• Economic Implication: 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, Barkin Ladi in Plateau State and Saminaka, Chawai, Damakasuwa, Ungwan Bawa in Kaduna State.
Primary goods like yams, honey, grains, vegetables, livestock, charcoal etc are being brought from the rural areas while cloths, shoes, provisions and so on are being brought from the cities and towns.
Thursdays are usually a beehive of activities in Miango.
The market is a great source of livelihood for Irigwe people and people from neighbouring communities. Transporters of goods and passengers across towns and villages, motorcycle riders, labourers, middlemen, wholesalers and retailers always wait in anticipation of Thursdays.
The hospitality industry is not left out as beer parlours, eateries and snack sellers make the brisk business even into the night when the general market is closed. The same can be said of Chawai, Damakasuwa, Saminaka and Ungwan Bawa in Kaduna State- market towns that are also rich in primary products.
The poor nature of this road has affected these markets and the loss cannot be quantified in economic terms.
• Security implication: The impediment to the social and economic well-being of these border communities is not only the road but also security. It is important to state here that not only was the road abandoned physically but there has never been any security presence along this important road, except for the occasional deployment of security operatives during any attacks on villages around that axis by suspected Fulani herdsmen or bandits.
In the past, the road was a haven for car smugglers and other contrabands; thanks to the absence of customs, the police, army and civil defence on the road.
The crime of smuggling ceased because, of course, the road has become a harbinger of a deadly band of killer herdsmen and militia. Perhaps, these smugglers have learnt that the road is now a ‘death trap’ and so avoided the road. Besides, the Chawai people who are known for trekking long distances to Miango market and the Miango Hausa residents who use to transport goods from Kaduna state to the market, have long ceased in their trade.
This is not unconnected to the almost decade long clashes between the Irigwe and Fulani. Unfortunately, over 300 Irigwe lives were lost and property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
The road is presently a no-go area. Countless persons have been waylaid or ambushed on that road and have either been reported missing or dead.
THE ROAD BETWEEN MIANGO IN PLATEAU STATE AND CHAWAI IN KADUNA STATE IS, IN REALITY, AN UNGOVERNED AREA THAT DESERVES SPECIAL ATTENTION if we desire peace and security.
Criminals and mischief-makers are known to exploit any vacuum and also leverage on UNGOVERNED areas.
Moreover, while the State governors are preparing to stop inter-state travels to curb the spread of COVID-19, such ‘ungoverned’ areas could be utilized for illegal movements, unless of course the perpetrators are deterred by the (landlords) ‘terrorists’ there. That is the dilemma- a complicated situation that needs the attention of security authorities and of course the government.
This is a wake-up call to the Kaduna State government, Plateau State government, the Department of State Service (DSS), The Special Task Force (operation Safe Haven), National Assembly Members representing Kaduna and Plateau States, State Assembly Members representing Kauru LGA and Bassa LGA, traditional rulers in both Kauru and Bassa LGAs as well as citizens interested in the peace and security of both states.
•Victor Gai is a Journalist and Social Affairs Analyst