A major link road across Otamiri Nkwoahia River connects three autonomous communities of Umudibia, Umuoma and Umualum in Nekede in Owerri West Council Area of Imo state.
Although the road has been in very terrible condition, but the precarious state of the bridge there has become a grave concern to the people of these communities. A recent visit by Daily Sun showed that the all-important bridge had caved in to the forces of the water bodies which have expanded beyond the river bank.
It was gathered that with the ongoing reconstruction work along the Naze/Polytechnic road, a lot of vehicles now ply the old Nekede road through the Otamiri Nkwoahia Bridge from Owerri to the polytechnic or Ihiagwa community, just to avoid the usual gridlock around the Naze Junction.
Investigation revealed that the bridge was abandoned for over twenty years until when the Federal Government awarded its construction to FIC Consultants Limited but the poor work by the contractor who was also supposed to tackle the erosion menace has left much to be desired.
It was further learnt that the contractor had allegedly closed up the natural channel of the river resulting in current erosion menace to the communities.
Enraged by the bad condition and the poor quality work done by the contractor that had handled the Nekede erosion control project, Phase II, the Nekede Federated Union, led by Chief Kennedy Zanders, recently complained to the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund Office.
The umbrella body of Nekede people also copied the petition to Ikenna Elezianya who represents Owerri Federal Constituency in the National Assembly.
Similarly, the community had also taken it upon themselves to fix the Umudoche community’s link bridge to other villages when their request to the local government council to reconstruct it failed.
Lamenting their plight, traditional ruler of Nekede autonomous community, Eze Dr. Samuel Agumanu, blamed the devastating state of the bridge on the blocking of the original channel of the river by the contractor. He pointed out that this had equally affected their homes and farmlands especially during rainy season.
He said: “It is the closing up of the natural channel of the river by the contractor that has not only affected the bridge but the homes and farmlands of the people are being threatened by erosion especially during the rainy season where most homes and farmlands are submerged. We are appealing to the Federal Government to save us from this menace and also reconstruct this Mmiri Nkwoahia Bridge to ease movement of goods and people.”
Also, Traditional Prime Minister of Umuoma Nekede, Nze Chris Aharanwa, expressed concern about the condition of the connecting link between the three sectors of Nekede.
Aharanwa who is immediate past Principal Secretary to the former Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, said: “The state of the bridge has become a source of great concern not only to me but to the entire people of Nekede. If nothing is done immediately to remedy the situation of the bridge, it would not survive this rainy season”.
However, Nollywood actress, Ogechi Obilonu was upbeat that Governor Hope Uzodinma will fix the bridge should he be informed of it because according to her, the Governor has the interest of the people at heart.
For Comrade Princely Onyenwe, Nekede people did not deserve what they were getting from the political leaders considering the geographical location of the community and its voting strength.
He called on the state Government to come to their rescue, urging that the area should not be neglected in infrastructural development.