January 28, 2023

Plateau: Women have unsafe, home Childbirths due to bad roads preventing hospital access

Justina Ibrahim

A Central Nigerian mother, Mrs. Justina Ibrahim says she once put to bed at home due to bad roads preventing early arrival of taxicab to go to hospital.

Justina stays in Nghar village, a Plateau community located 30miles southwest of Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

The shortest route to the village from the Barkin Ladi Local Government headquarters is about 10miles. However, the road is disturbingly bumpy, requiring over an hour of gentle drive to penetrate.

Worse still, it is divided by a wide river without a bridge. Commuters often drive through a stream to get to or out of the village. When it rains and the stream overflows, no one moves.

A car is stuck in stream, an only route to Nghar village

In April 2018, Justina had sudden labour pains and called for a cab from a village across the river, but it never arrived.

“I was in deep pain and the driver kept saying he was on his way. There was just no way he could speed along that road. I tried to be strong but the baby was fast coming and before the driver could arrive, I had given birth,” said Justina.

The village has no clinic. The villagers always cross the river to access healthcare in another village.

Justina trekked several times to get antenatal care, in absence of motorbikes, the cheapest and fastest means of transportation in the village.

This, mostly after trekking a mile to get drinking water for her family, from a stream, the only source in the village, Justina said was sickening.

Pregnant Justina gets drinking water from dirty stream, an only source located a mile away

“I fell sick several times jiggling and joggling along that road to get antenatal care several miles away,” she said.

Justina’s experience is nearly the same for all other women in the village. Children also trek the same road, often arriving late, tired and sometimes sick to school which is over two miles away. However, the road is not just a threat to health.

In June 2018, when armed herders attacked native farming communities in Barkin Ladi LGA, Nghar village recorded 90 deaths, the highest in a single community, due to bad road preventing security intervention.

Mr. Yakubu Haruna, leader of the herders in Barkin Ladi who lives 2kms to Nghar village said due to the bad terrain, securities often arrived when attacks had been carried out.

Yakubu Haruna

Villagers, Haruna said are also easily robbed along the road after selling animals or crops in distant markets.

The village produces some of Plateau’s best corn and Irish potatoes. With a good road, it could feed the entire state and beyond, said Mr. Mabitin Mallo, the Village Chief of Nghar.

“We just want to appeal that government considers the gains from opening up this community; even if it is just with a bridge. We plead also that anyone with the wherewithal to help should come to our rescue,” he said.

An only alternative route to Nghar is cut by broken bridge

Commuters drive through flowing river to get to or out of Nghar village 

A group of two families from Port Harcourt in Southeast Nigeria recently donated a borehole to the community in response to a documentary released by MK on the water needs of the villagers.

The road is yet another need that the world could respond to and save more women from the risk of trekking distances for antenatal care, or giving birth at home in an unhealthy environment like Justina.