It is arguably Niger State’s capital of handymen, but suffers an array of problems including kidnapping, poor road, power supply, lack of clean water and others.
With only one transformer for over 3,500 households, barely two hours of power supply in 48 hours; equipped clinic with no personnel; five broken down boreholes; poor access road and kidnapping challenges, Chaza community in Suleja local government area of Niger State, is not experiencing the best of times.
Located just on the outskirts of Suleja town, overlooking the beautiful rocks of Suleja and the sprawling landscape that borders the FCT, Chaza community is the last settlement on the boundary between Niger State and the FCT. From the number of motorcycles laden with agricultural produces leaving the community, it can be argued that Chaza is the agricultural hub of Suleja and one of the rich agricultural plains of Niger State.
Although the community is relatively young, residents say it’s less than 35 years in existence and predominantly of the Gbagyi ethnic group, the community from a humble beginning of four households has grown to over 3,500 households, thanks to the influx of artisans that have populated the community.
It can also be argued that in spite of its numerous challenges, Chaza is a safe haven for artisans especially in the building industry. Every sector in the building sector has got a handyman in Chaza. From mason, tillers, roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, windows and doors experts and others, they are all represented in the community. Some have tagged the community as Niger State ‘Capital of Experts in Building Works’. Housing News Friday observed on visiting the community recently, that every household has one or two artisans in the building sector.
For those who did not engage in technical jobs, go into farming, an occupation that has engaged not a few persons in the community. The community, in spite of the resilience of the people, is a bastion of arrays of problems that has worried not a few of the residents. The access road to the community is very terrible.
The less than two kilometres road is tormentuous as the condition is best described as dilapidated. Worse, is when it rains in the community as many of the residents get trapped in houses because the road is always flooded and after wards becomes muddy and dangerously slippery. The Wakalin Chaza, Jibrin Nuhu, told Housing News Weekend that the community is in pain over the state of its road, saying the condition of the road has closed the community from investors especially the housing sector.
He lamented that his community, which has grown from a humble four homes to over 3,500 houses, is dependent on only one transformer to power electricity. “Ideally, we need about eight transformers in this community. We are a community with so many artisans and professionals contributing to the growth of Niger State and the FCT but have been neglected for years.” Housing News Friday learnt that some political leaders of Suleja have been pushing for the construction of the road in the federal budget, it is yet to be seen on ground. The traditional leader said rumours of commencement of works on Chaza road have been making the rounds for years and “we have not seen any work yet, our people still go through pains to go and come into the community daily”.
Meanwhile, out of the five motorised boreholes constructed as part of constituency projects by the government, none is working. Some residents say some of the projects were never commissioned. The residents said they rely on rain water, streams and for those that can afford, get water from private boreholes. “It is not a matter of exaggeration, Chaza community does not have any clean source of water and you know the implication of not having clean sources of water to a community.
We are vulnerable to all kinds of water borne diseases,” said Yabubu Baale, a resident. The community records about 25 to 30 new births in a month. It has a beautiful comprehensive healthcare centre that is well equipped in terms of drugs but lacks medical personnel to handle cases of the residents. Worse, is that the health facility runs without water and electricity supplies. Housing News Friday was shown the constructed borehole but learnt that the borehole could not function because the contractor is still being owed money. “The contractor is still being owed money for the job, so he refused to connect the pumping machine to enable us get water.
You can imagine a clinic buying water from vendors when we don’t even know the source of the water,” a staff of the centre said. It was also observed that the cable supplying power to the clinic has been vandalised leaving the facility to run without power for several months.
Although, a senior official who spoke to Housing News Friday at the facility claimed the clinic is well staffed, she only complained of the access road to the clinic and electricity. But community leaders said the facility needs more experts to attend to their medical needs. The biggest challenge to residents of the community, Housing News Friday learnt, is the growing cases of kidnapping in and around Chaza.
Chaza has come to earn the unenvious status as the ‘Kidnapping Hub of Niger’ where residents and visitors are terrorised by kidnappers. Residents complained that kidnappers have continued to make life uneasy for them especially those who return home from work late in the evening. Housing News Friday had reported in December 2017, how a businessman was kidnapped on returning from Chaza after visiting his in-laws and kept until after two weeks until ransom was collected.
Since then, residents say it has been one kidnapping incident or the other with the latest which happened three weeks ago. “The bad state of the road and the one vehicle bridge have been used as bait by these bad boys who have turned kidnapping into a trade for themselves. After people have worked hard, others will use kidnapping to rob them of their hard earned money. Nobody comes to Chaza whenever it’s dark anymore,” said Uche Obi a trader in the community.