From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Umuchichi and Umueme communities in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State have protested the poor condition of the major road in the area, the Okpulo Umuobo/Umuchichi/Umueme Road and called on the two companies doing business in the area to fix it.
They threatened that if the companies do not fix the road after December, no haulage truck would be allowed to pass through the road.
Natives and residents of the two neighbouring communities marched through the stretch of the road from the Umuchichi Council Hall junction, to the gates of Glass Force Limited and GZ Industry.
The protesters who carried placards, and sang solidarity songs as they waded through the muddy road to the gates of the two companies, expressed displeasure over the state of the road.
Their spokesman, Chigoziem Okechukwu said they were not protesting because they did not like the existence of the companies in the area, but were protesting because of the problem the firms are creating for them.
“The environmental impact of their existence here is negative and they are not responsive to it.
“It took us about N20m to fix this road this year, but within six months, the companies heavy trucks have destroyed it”.
Okechukwu revealed that more than 300 trucks leave or enter the companies on daily basis, using the road.
He urged the management of the companies to be responsive to know that the natives need a very strong road for their trucks; “we have endured enough”, he said.
Chuks Ezeyim, a landlord in the area, regretted that the authorities of the two communities are not helping matters when it comes to maintaining the road.
He said the state government should give the companies tax holidays to enable them fix the roads and where that has been done and they refused to fix the roads, government should query them.
“This is a warning protest, if after December, nothing was done, we will not allow any truck to pass the road again”, he warned.
Addressing the protesters, the HR manager of GZ Industry, Obi Nwankwor said the company has held meetings with stakeholders in the area.
While urging the people to exercise patience as the company gets approval from the state government, he assured that soon the company would start the rehabilitation of the road.
“We all are part of the community, we need the road in good shape and immediately we get approval from the state government, we will start work on the road”, he assured.