•Situation‘ll send Zik, Okpara grimacing in their graves
By Brown Chimezie
With the approach of the rains, concern is already mounting over the state of roads in the South-East region. Motorists plying roads in the area and other major stakeholders have begun expressing worry that motorists and commuters in the zone will be in for a rough patch.
Recently, the traditional ruler of Igbo-Ukwu Kingdom in Aguata Local Government Area, Anambra State, Igwe Martin Ezeh, expressed such sadness with what he perceived would be the plight of many in the area once the rains set in. While describing the dismal state of roads in the region as ‘disheartening’, the royal father said it gave cause for serious worry.
Igwe Ezeh lamented that iconic leaders from the region, such as the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara and others would be stirring in their graves if they noticed that the region now had no good roads. He is unhappy that the facilities had all deteriorated over time.
The monarch told Daily Sun that what he saw of the roads in the area in recent times left him with sour taste in the mouth as commuters bore the brunt of the innumerable, failed portions. He regretted that in every part of the region, the story of bad roads resonated.
While expressing worries over the safety of road-users, particularly those in Aba, the monarch revealed that he had been having difficulty sleeping since he made a torturous road trip to the commercial city. He regretted that he spent several hours in the gridlock caused by some failed sections of the Aba-Port Harcourt Road, noting that ordinarily, it was a journey that shouldn’t take tens of minutes.
The monarch, who was once the sole administrator of Aba North Local Government Area in the early 90s, explained that then, the city was a beauty to behold but today, it had become an eyesore as craters, gullies and murky waters had taken over every turn of the roads. He said it was very dangerous to travel on those roads.
The paramount ruler said he was constantly praying for all road-users across the region, as bad conditions of roads were gradually crippling the industrial potential of the region.
He explained that even his hometown, Igbo-Ukwu was not spared as gully erosion had steadily cut off his own part of the community from the rest of the area, noting that the effect was devastating. “Today farmers in our own part of Igbo-Ukwu can hardly evacuate food crops from their farms because the roads are in bad condition.”
Speaking on the negative impact of this development, Igwe Ezeh said a journey that ought to last 30 minutes could now take three hours, regretting that sometimes, one was trapped in the failed-portion-induced gridlock. He also said that bad roads also encouraged crime, as hoodlums easily took advantage to waylay unsuspecting commuters at such spots.
Recalling his experience on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Igwe Ezeh said he spent close to seven hours between Okigwe and Aba, as his driver meandered through failed sections of the road often making a detour into some villages all in an attempt to get through.
He said even during the civil war when there was total breakdown of the area, the road was not as bad as it is today. He said at a point, he abandoned his vehicle and walked for awhile just to see the several failed portions.
The monarch passionately appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address the challenge of bad roads across the area before the beginning of the rainy season, which he feared would compound the already bad situation. He also called on governors of the South-East region to come out with plans to fix some of the roads in their domain to alleviate the hardship being experienced by the people.
“I know that some of the roads belong to the Federal Government but the governors can fix some of them and seek for refunds later,” he said,
While commending the Federal Government for showing commitment to the construction of the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Igwe Ezeh tasked contractors, handling the project to complete the work in a record time, adding that Ndigbo were tired of empty promises of past governments but now wished action could be matched with word through early completion of the project.