Recently amid jubilation, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, inaugurated the 13-kilometre Nike Lake Junction-Harmony Estate-Amorji Nike- Adoration Pilgrimage Centre –Orie Emene road, newly constructed by his administration across the thick forest of Umuchigbo community in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state. The virgin road constructed with lined drains and five river crossings, including culverts and bridges, now links the ever-busy and densely populated Abakpa Nike with Emene satellite town.
Basking in euphoria during the inauguration of the strategic road project that has opened up the suburbs of Emene, Abakpa and its environs, the fiery, outspoken and Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria (AMEN), Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, described the road as unprecedented and a miracle. Fr. Mbaka revealed that “this ultra-modern road built by the Governor of Enugu State, our beloved Gburugburu, before now was a thick forest”, stressing: “There was no road of any kind here before now. The governor started it from the bush clearing to this asphalting level. In fact, this road is a miracle”.
Mbaka’s assertion and disclosure is nothing, but the truth. Lest we have forgotten, Gov. Ugwuanyi flagged off the construction of the second phase of the road early last from the scratch, amidst excitement, expectations and doubts as well. Some who were in intial doubts of the possibility of completing the very important road might have done so out of fear, having considered the enormity of works that needed to be done, which included clearing the thick forest and construction of bridges and culverts across the road before asphalting it.
But Gov. Ugwuanyi who was not unmindful of the quantum of works that needed to be done before making the road a reality was never daunted by the challenges, it posed.
This was because he understood the importance of the road and why it is strategic in the development of the state. He is also quite aware that with the growing population around Abakpa-Nike and its environs, Nike Lake road is gradually becoming another Ninth Mile Corner, Ngwo in terms of perennial traffic gridlock and others, which was eased off with his administration’s construction of a new bypass that linked the Ninth Mile to Enugu/Onitsha Expressway toll gate in 2016. So Ugwuanyi knew that something urgent was needed to done to ease traffic flow on Nike road, henceforth, his administration on the money-spinning construction of the newly completed Abakpa-Emene bypass. Meanwhile, it could be observed and recalled that since the reconstruction of the dilapidated Nike Lake road, Ibagwa Nike, down to Opi Nsukka junction by the immediate past administration in the state, there has been increased traffic flow on the road and beehive of activities in the axis. This is largely due to the increasing influx of people to the area, a development which has brought about rapid development along the axis.
Contributing immensely to the consistent traffic snarl on the Nike Lake road is the impassable state of the Markudi-Obollo-Ninth Mile-Enugu road, which has since forced motorists and commuters coming into and going out of Enugu and other Southeast and Southsouth states from and to the North to always make a detour at Opi junction and ply the road to connect Enugu-Ontisha, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Enugu-Ebonyi, Enugu- Makurdi Expressways and others.
The only relief on the road is the wise decision of the Enugu State Government to bar articulated vehicles and tankers from plying the road. But even at that, property owners had before the reconstruction of the Opi/ Nsukka road built shops and houses too close to the road in total violation of building regulations and at the same time creating problems for the road users. This development has adequately and adversely affected easy traffic flow, human movements and business patronages in that area, especially during festivities. Not even the traffic light at T-junction that leads to Abakpa-Nike and Timber market has provided the needed traffic relief along the Nike road, especially during peak periods. Mostly affected by the persistent traffic congestion along the Nike road, apart from the commuters and motorists are patronisers of the state-owned legacy hospitality outfit, Nike Lake Resort, situated in a serene environment along the busy Nike road. The resort, which ordinarily shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes’ drive from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Emene Enugu and 10 minutes from Enugu metropolis, takes hours’ drive due to the consistent traffic gridlock on the Nike road.
No doubt, it was as a result of these growing challenges on the Nike Lake road and its environs that made Ugwuanyi’s administration on assumption of office in 2015 to go to drawing board with the members of Enugu Urban Renewal Committee in search of permanent solution to the perennial traffic gridlock on the road before it gets out of hand. That was how the government came up with idea of constructing the new Nike Lake-Harmony Estate-Adoration Ministry-Emene Road that commenced almost opposite Nike Lake Resort entrance and terminated at Orie Emene. With the completion and commissioning of the strategic and developmental road project to happiness and admiration of Ndi Enugu, perennial traffic snarl along Nike road will surely reduce drastically, if not eliminated completely. The road will hasten rapid and even development around the area, especially now that many people are moving into Emene and Abakpa in large numbers to build, trade and reside.
Commuters and motorists plying the Nike road from the North to Southeast and Southsouth states or vice versa will no longer need to get into Enugu metropolis first, before heading to their various destinations. The newly constructed Abakpa-Emene bypass is now their best bet for a smooth ride through and across Enugu. Even residents of Abakpa, Emene, New Haven, Independence Layout, Enugu and its environs coming from or going to Nsukka, Ibagwa Nike, Isi Uzo, North and others need not to pass through Timber Market- NOWAS- 82 Division before heading home or leaving the state. Also to benefit immensely from the completed road are the management and patronisers of Nike Lake Resort, residents and property owners along the axis. The road has not only opened their properties for attentions and patronages, it has made them to gain appreciable values. The road will also help in creating new residential and industrial cities in the area. This will surely change the face of Nike, Adoration Ground, Emene and its environs.
This road project is a replica of the bypass road Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration constructed at Ninth Mile Corner that has completely eliminated the age-long traffic congestion in the area that has lasted for decades with enormous human and material loss. But today, motorists and commuters plying the Ninth Mile road hardly witness or experience any traffic jam as they have alternative routes to avoid it depending where they are coming from or heading to. For those heading to Ezeagu, Eke and Nsukka, and some Northern states from Enugu, the best bet for them is to make a detour after Ozungwo Comprehensive College Ngwo and drive through the rehabilitated Amankwo-Ameke-Amah junction bypass that terminates opposite Nigerian Brewery Company at Amah. Also for those driving into Ninth Mile from the North and are heading to Southeast and Southsouth states, the easy exit is the bypass road that terminates at Enugu toll gate along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. This is the same solution the new Abakpa-Emene bypass has provided for commuters and motorists plying Nike road.
It is obvious that the new Nike Lake-Harmony Estate- Adoration- Emene road project is a continuation of Gov. Ugwuanyi administration’s quest to open up rural and urban areas with the provision of link and access roads to relieve commuters and motorists’ plight and engender rapid development across the state.
Ezea writes from Enugu