Magnus Eze, Aba
Successive government in Abia State has had to flaunt its achievements in Aba, the famous Enyimba City because of its strategic place of the commercial and industrial hub to the economy of the state.
Going by the sustained media blitz by the administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu of how it has transformed Abia, people outside the state will be forced to believe that the state, particularly the commercial city of Aba has become Eldorado. But like the Igbo would say, how the bitter kola sounds in the mouth, is not the way it tastes. It will only take a visit to Aba where the government is said to have concentrated her developmental activities to know that behind the beauty of the media barrage, lays the façade of decay.
The Ikpeazu government has no doubt done some of the roads in Aba which residents described as “small small roads”, such as Kamalu, Ukaegbu, Umuola and Weeks. However, the major ones left undone include Ngwa, Omuma, Osusu, Ohanku and many other roads. Some roads in the commercial city could easily pass for breeding ground for animals as pigs in particular have them as dwelling place. A good case in point is Ozuomba Road where grasses have grown to unimaginable proportion.
A trip to Nkwo Ngwa Market popularly known as the Aba Casket Market will no doubt give the picture of what the city and by extension the state looks like. Obohia, the road that leads to the market is hellish with craters all over. The portion of the road from the market towards Obohia town in Ugwunagbo Local Government Area of the state is completely inaccessible. The bad state of the road is simply unimaginable and people living around the area, our correspondent gathered, have left their predicament to fate.
A commercial tricycle operator, Augustine, who plies the road, told this reporter that he came at a period their “governor,” referring to Okochi (dry season) has made the road passable.
According to the middle-aged man, who resides within the area and claimed that Okochi is the governor they know in Aba, “If you had visited in August or early part of September, my brother there was no way I could have taken you to Nkwo Ngwa Market in this keke. Some of the ‘gullies’ on the road which were filled with stinging water could have swallowed all of us including the tricycle. Even within the benevolence period provided by the dry season, no vehicle, no matter how strong will go beyond Nkwo Ngwa Market.”
If getting to the market was all that herculean, what about getting to the palace of the traditional ruler of the community which is less than 500 metres from the market, and beyond? Augustine who had at this period turned to my tour guide, pointing towards a muddy, waterlogged, green grass-covered surface, has this to say, “From the point you have the green grass upwards is the same part of Obohia Road and that place leads to the palace of the traditional ruler of this community and to Obohia town in Ugwunagbo Local Government Area, but no vehicle can pass through that area, not even a trailer.
“The irony of it all is that Obohia community is one of the food baskets of the state; if the road were to be in order, the high cost of food items could have drastically reduced in Aba. As it stands now, nobody living in the area including the traditional ruler of the place where the market is can drive into the city centre through Obohia Road and that is how bad the situation is.”
Daily Sun was told that the recent inferno that gutted the Nkwo Ngwa Market leaving the place extensively destroyed could have been contained but the fire servicemen could not access the market because of the state of the road.
A trader in the market, Okey Nwakanma spoke to us albeit with fear of victimization. “When the fire broke out around 1am or thereabout on that fateful day, our leaders contacted the fire servicemen in Aba, but it took them over two hours to get to the market and before then, substantial harm had been done to the market. And let me tell you something, they were able to come the time they did because it was dry season, if it were during the rains, they couldn’t have come at all.”
As the governor powers his re-election campaign, residents of the area and traders in the market said that it was high time that he came to their rescue, particularly now that the dry season has set in.
Mrs. Janet Udoka, a housewife who tried her hands on making local snacks, bean cake popularly called ‘Akara’ along Obohia Road, said the unhygienic nature of her vicinity crumbled the business.
She also joined other residents in appealing to the state government to do something urgently to put the road and others around the area in good condition to save them from further hardship.