From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Most communities in Igbo land have always depended on self-help to develop their communities.
They usually use this method to provide themselves with potable water, health centres or schools.
This method nevertheless is an age-long tradition among the Igbo as some wealthy persons in these communities take the responsibility of providing some of these amenities.
So, it was against this background that Chief Donatus Madumere and Chief Festus Ekekwe from Ozuomee and Ozu autonomous communities in Urualla in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, having waited in vain for the state government to come to their aids by reconstructing their dilapidated road caused by erosion took it upon themselves to pool their resources together to embark on the building of the four kilometer road linking the two communities at the cost of N60 million.
The four-kilometre road, which runs from Nkwo-Ozu to Ugwunano, which was graded by the government over six years ago, was neither asphalted nor had drainage constructed for erosion control, thereby cutting the road t into two.
This separated the Ozuomee community from their neighbour, Ozu, as well as making the palace of the paramount ruler of Ozu, Eze Louis Ezeukwu, difficult to access.
According to the Chairman of the project committee, Uche Ifeonu, the two communities had suffered terribly because their only access road had been cut into two by ravaging erosion, which brought hardship to the people, especially during the rainy season.
“Our access road, which runs from Nkwo-Ozu to Ugwunano has been in a terrible shape since it was graded by the state government over six years because it was never asphalted nor drainage provided to check the erosion. The erosion has cut the road into two, making it even difficult for the people of the area.
He said that if nothing was done to take care of the road and check the erosion menace by the next rainy season, the community’s primary school and the hall would collapse.
“As you can see for yourself, the road project has already begun and so far, we have expended about N40 million of the N60 million budgeted for the road project,” he said.
Uche called on the state government to assist them in building a bridge at Obibiochasi Orlu that would to link their communities even as he requested the state to extend help to the communities to enable them to complete the road project on time.
The President-General of the Ozuomee community, Chief Gabriel Onyia, said prominent individuals in both communities decided to pool resources together to address the deplorable condition of the road.
“If you come here during the rainy season, you will have pity on the people because it is very difficult for them to get to their homes. So, without reconstructing it; and not just grading, most homes may be swept away by the erosion. But we are still appealing to the state government to come to our aid.”
The traditional ruler of Ozu, Eze Louis Ezeukwu, who expressed gratitude to the sponsors of the road project pointed out that the access road to his palace was cut off by the erosion.
“For several years we have been suffering because of the bad road which has been cut into two because of erosion and even to get to my palace is a problem; the access road has been devastated by the erosion which is a major problem in this area.
“We appealed to the state governor severally and having waited in vain for the government without any response prominent sons from both communities decided to save the people from the agony and took up the road project. This road, which is Nkwo-Ozu to Ugwunano, is the only access road to the two communities,” he said.
Similarly, the President-General of Ozu community, Chief Martins Egeonu, said that sponsors of the road project from the two sister communities realised that if nothing was done to tackle the erosion by reconstructing the road with drainages, most of the houses in the communities would be affected.