By Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Benin-Warri Expressway is becoming a nightmare to travellers once more as the rains set in. Last year, commuters had difficulties plying the road as a result of its very bad state.
Fare skyrocketed to between N3,000 and N4,000 above the normal fare of between N1,200 and N1,500. Currently, fare for the less than100 km road is between N1,500 and N2,000.
Several sections of the road are death traps and impassable despite the Federal Government’s claim of spending billions of naira to fix roads across the country. In particular, Ologbo-Koko junction section of the road ravaged by flood last year is yet to attract meaningful attention from the Federal Government even as another rainy season has commenced.
Worse still, commuters find it difficult to understand why the federal or Edo State Government cannot fix the terrible portion of the Benin-Sapele Road right inside Benin City, which is less than a third of a kilometre. Everyday, commuters spend hours trying to make their way through this hellish portion.
But they had their fill last week Thursday. Commuters joined residents of the area to protest the bad condition of the road. They said several petitions written to the state and federal governments have not been responded to positively. A resident and chairman, Sapele Road By-pass Axis, Daniel Omorogbe, said: “Some of our children can no longer go to school. Our cars are bad. We are finding it difficult to use this road.
This road connects to the Niger Delta and those coming from the Niger Delta axis to other parts of the country also pass through here. Trucks coming from the North to the Niger Delta also pass through here.
“Three months ago, we wrote to the Senate, House of Representatives, Federal Ministry of Works, state House of Assembly and the governor, still nothing has been done so we are tired. We are going to stay here until government listens to us.
“We are going to continue to remain here till they answer us. They come here to be using labourers to work using head pans and wheelbarrows. Once rain falls, the whole place will collapse and get flooded.”
Another resident, Omo Osifo, narrated the an encounter on the road said: “We now spend hours; from By-pass to Ring Road used to be N150, now we spend up to N500 because of the state of the road especially when it rains.
“They were rushing a woman to the hospital for delivery. But because of the bad road, there was traffic and she delivered. It was a good Samaritan that took her to a nearby hospital. What if that good Samaritan was not there?”
A resident and road user, Mrs Sandra Otaigbe, said: “We want to make it known to the federal and the state governments that good social amenities are not a privilege but a right. If it rains people are stranded, you see little children trekking with their launch bags after school because of the bad situation when it rains.”
Federal Controller of Works and Housing, Edo State, Razaq Aransiola, declined comments. He said he would call back. He never did as at press time.