Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Urgent attention of the Enugu State Government and other stakeholders is needed to avert an imminent disaster at the Eke Obinagu Junction, Emene, where the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) depot is located.
The junction which is the most prominent along the Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway has been a source of worry and concern to many motorists and residents in Emene and the adjoining communities, including commuters to and fro Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
Before now, it used to be complaints about the NNPC’s depot situated few meters from the junction with its inherent trucks’ uncoordinated movements that sometimes make the Enugu-Abakaliki Road impassable. Now other factors have combined to bring the place to its present pitiable situation.
One of the factors is the emergency market at the area. With the demolition of the Orie Emene Market near the Akanu Ibiam International Airport’s runway, many of the traders relocated their businesses along the roads. The umbrella and makeshift shops along both sides of the road have turned half of the road at the Eke Obinagu Junction to a market.
This and the issue of making the junction a bus park are things the local government should tackle. Fuel tankers parked both sides of the road practically reduced the road space. This causes major problem gridlock on daily basis. What is more worrisome is that with the volume of both human and vehicular traffic and with most of the tankers loaded with high inflammable products, the risk of explosion or igniting fire cannot be over emphasized.
Uchechukwu Ngwu, a driver, uses the Enugu-Abakaliki Road regularly. He spoke with Daily Sun: “That Eke Obinagu Junction is a big problem going or coming back from Abakiliki. When it is locked up in traffic, you may be at a particular place for two to three hours. The major cause is the big trucks, fuel tankers that park along the road and the road is a single lane. If they can take them out of the road, but I know it might be difficult to do, so, I think the solution to it is to build a flyover there. Alternatively, government can make the road a dual carriageway.”
A resident of Emene, Moses Ani, said: “When the NNPC depot was built, there was plan to make the old Emene Road dual carriage. There is a pillar base at the Ekulu Bridge, Emene, the second lane of the old Enugu-Abakaliki Road.
“With construction of the new Enugu-Abakaliki Road, the project was abandoned. Now for the new Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway, you can see that it is a dual carriage road and it started from the Enugu axis up to the IBB Flyover leading to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport by the past administration of Sullivan Chime.
“The state government should as a matter of urgency complete making the road a dual carriage and put a flyover at the Eke Obinagu junction, that is the only solution. Those who built houses close to the road knew that the road is a federal highway that has plan for dual carriage. They should blame themselves if their houses are destroyed in the process.”
A petty trader at the junction, Innocent Agbo, said: “This place is horrible; even as we are here, we are afraid of these tankers. The way this place is causing hold-up, I think it is only a flyover that will solve this problem.”
Even government agents, road marshals from the Ministry of Transport, popularly called MOT, who control traffic there, confessed that most times they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the traffic. They suggested the road be made a dual carriage or a flyover constructed at the junction.