The Nigerian Army yesterday reopened the Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru road three years after it was closed as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The road was closed to motorists in 2013 at the peak of Boko Haram activities in Borno.
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State accompanied by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai flagged off the reopening of the road.
The governor, in his remark, commended the military for containing the insurgency within the short period which facilitated the reopening of the road. He said the state remained eternally grateful to the army and sister services that contributed to the defeat of Boko Haram. He said reopening of the road would automatically revamp the economy of the state and improve the lots of the people.
“Two years ago, Borno was in a bad state and about a year and half ago, the state almost fell completely in the hands of the insurgents. Today, the story is different and anyone who wants to be fair to the Nigerian Army and General Buratai must juxtapose these scenarios before drawing conclusion. With the reopening of this road which is the life wire of the state, there will be a quantum leap in the economy of the state,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff said the road was not only important to the people of the state but was strategically significant to the ongoing military operation in the region. He assured the people of the state that the army would provide adequate security for motorists using the road.
Buratai said the reopening of the road to the public would also aid the restoration of civil authorities in the recaptured areas. He however warned against extortion of motorists plying the route by security agencies and vowed to deal decisively with anyone found wanting.
“I want to use this opportunity to warn against extortion of motorists, we are investigating the allegations and anyone caught will be sanctioned. The NURTW should take note, We are here to do our jobs and nobody should contribute money for the purpose of paying security operatives, we don’t want anyone to give us bad reputation,’’ he said.
The state secretary of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Ahmed Musa, commended the efforts of the military in reopening the road.
He expressed regret at the closure of the road three years ago, noting that it adversely affected the economy of the state and the livelihood of the people. He said reopening of the road was an indication that Boko Haram had been sufficiently degraded and defeated.
Musa added that the union had arranged with its members to reduce the cost of transportation from Maiduguri to Gamboru-Ngala from N6, 000 to N2,000. Musa said over 200 commercial vehicles would ply the road on daily basis in a bid to hasten the restoration of economic life along the axis.