From Jeff Agbodo, Onitsha
Anambra North Senatorial District is unarguably a major food-producing zone. Communities in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State fall within the “food basket” belt of the state.
Unfortunately, farmers in this area almost labour in vain as they hardly get value for their efforts because of the absence of passable roads to evacuate their produce. A recent visit by Daily Sun showed that the communities, including Omor, Anaku and Umumbo, have been totally cut off due to the dilapidated state of the Otuocha-Omor-Adani federal road, this rainy season.
To worsen the situation, the mud soil recently poured on the road made it completely impassable any day it rained. Motorists and commuters now see it as a death trap; the slippery nature of the soil has turned the road to a nightmare for even motorcyclists.
Recently, motorists, commuters and other road users were stranded on the road for over five hours as many vehicles in the Anaku axis of the road were trapped. Our correspondent gathered that some vehicles broke down and completely blocked the road for hours that fateful day. It took the efforts of some farmers who brought their tractor and towed some of the vehicles off the way before the gridlock was eased.
Travellers from Kogi and Enugu states as well as those from neighbouring communities were held up for hours. They waited from morning till about 1pm when the sun dried the road a bit before they could continue their journey.
Traditional ruler of Omor Kingdom, Igwe Oranu Chris Chidume, expressed displeasure over the condition of the road. He said it has affected the economy of the area negatively at the rate their farm produce perished. He appealed to government for urgent attention to ameliorate the sufferings of the road users: “We are not happy about the condition of the road. We are made to understand that it is a federal road. It is pathetic because farm produce, which we will soon be harvesting, will be difficult to make the effective market where the commodity is going to be priced with comparison with others elsewhere.
“Because of the road, our farm produce cannot be priced with the market value and those who normally come to buy our produce are no longer coming. The road is a nightmare. The question is how do you tip mud soil on top of asphalt? It is not done.”
Igwe Omor had during the last Ofala festival cried out to the Federal Government to rehabilitate the road: “This will enable easy transportation of farm produce, which are presently produced in large quantity, from our town to other parts of the country where we will access a bigger market and at the same time, unblock the economic fortunes of the region.”
His counterpart from Anaku community, Igwe Peter Offorkansi, noted that the road was very important not only to Anambra, but also Enugu and Kogi states: “If the road remains like this, the entire local government would soon be cut off, we cannot go to Awka and Onitsha anymore. Many people were trapped on the road recently when rain fell. The road is useful for all Nigerians not only Anambra State and should be given necessary attention.”
Last year, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, when he attended the Ofala festival in Omor, promised that government would rehabilitate the road due to its importance to the economic development of the community, the state and the nation at large. He satated that the road was built by the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic, but regretted that it had completely collapsed:
“I will promise two things. If I get to Abuja, I will make sure that at least FERMA will come to this place to do palliative work on the road. I am assuring you that the road will be passable.
“Then, I will go and check whether this road is included in the budget for year 2020. If it is not there, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has decided that there will be categorisation of federal roads. We have discovered that some roads called federal roads lead to some private homes. I will make a special appeal to President Buhari for this road.”
Despite the promises, the road has continued to deteriorate. A motorist, Mr. James Onah, told Daily Sun: “In the first week of May, I stayed here for over five hours. I was from Enugu going to Onitsha. I got to this place at about 7:00am with the intention of reaching Onitsha by 8.30am but eventually I got to Onitsha around 1:30pm.”
An indigene of Umumbo community, Mrs. Maria Udechi, said: “Any day it rains at night we don’t come out to go to Awka, Onitsha or Aguleri because the road would be too bad. We look at the weather before coming out. The road has deprived us of many things. We are predominantly farmers we don’t take our farm produce to the market. Those who come here to buy don’t come because of the bad road.”
She appealed to government to help them remove the mud soil on the road even if they were not ready to repair it yet.