…As work begins on Otuocha-Anam-Kogi federal road
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
It was a prayer answered for the people of Anambra West Local Government Area recently as contractor resumed construction work on the Otuocha-Anam-Kogi federal road. The people could not contain their excitement following the resumption of work on the road which was abandoned for a very long time.
The contract for the road, which passes through Otuocha-Anam-Nzam-Inoma towards Kogi State was awarded in 2009, but abandoned shortly after.
The people of the area, therefore, said the resumption of work was the most important thing for them. They reasoned that when completed, the road would assist them move out their farm produce for sale as they are predominantly farmers.
For general road users, the completion of the road would make the journey to Abuja easier and faster, as it would take only about three hours from Anambra to Abuja through it.
Before the project was abandoned in 2009, it was gathered that about N2.5 billion had been spent with nothing to show for it.
Their prayer was, however, answered through the efforts of the member representing Anambra East and West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye, who facilitated the release of funds from the Federal Government to the contractor.
When recently in company of the officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and leaders of the communities, including the monarchs, Nwoye inspected the project, the contractors promised not to stop work again if the government continued to fund the project.
Nwoye said he got N800 million released for the project in 2017, which made the return of the contractors possible just as he got the National Assembly to put in N1 billion for the road project this fiscal year, assuring that work would no longer stop on the project whether or not he is still in the National Assembly, promising to use his connection to ensure it was funded till it is completed.
“You know Anambra West is the food basket of the East so if the road is done, they can transport their produce and sell, secondly, people can easily have access to their homes; thirdly, people going to Abuja, instead of going through Enugu State, the entire people from Anambra, part of Delta, Imo, will pass through here,” he said.
On how he was able to achieve the return of the contractors, he said: “Those before me tried and I did my best, but most importantly, I took it as a priority and put everything in to it for result to come and God blessed my efforts through the Federal Ministry of Works, the Permanent Secretary and very importantly the Chairman House Committee on Works, Toby Okechukwu and the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
“I want our people to co-operate with the contractors and let the contractors do a good work because this road has been over-neglected. If you pass here during the rainy season you are going to pity them. I was going to Nzam during campaigns, that was in November, I couldn’t access here. I had to travel by speedboat for more than two hours through River Niger. Let the community not disturb the contractors, let them not do societal malice or vices against the contractors and the contractors on their side should do a quality work, engage and employ them (local content). Contractors should engage the youths, engage the artisans, and allow them to supply some local materials to give them a sense of belonging. So, I appeal to the communities, the contractors and the Ministry of Works, let them co-operate because this road is so important and I am so passionate about it and the people because this people are the most marginalized in Anambra.”
Earlier when he spoke to the people at the Umueze Anam, Nwoye said he was not there for politics, but for the development of the area, noting that God used the people of Anambra West to make his going to House of Representatives possible as they voted massively for him even when he contested with their son.
“This is not a political matter. It is something that is very dear to me because I remember the support the people of Anambra West gave me when I contested election. I have been meeting with the stakeholders to find a solution to the road as I am determined to ensure its completion and I am very happy that the contractors have moved to site,” he said.
The traditional ruler of Ukwala, Igwe Joseph Ajodu who expressed joy over the commencement said the road traversed eight communities in the local government, stressing that when completed it would assist the people tremendously.
“It will help them to bring out their farm products to the major cities and they will make sales on them because we are very backward. Sometimes, our farm products use to spoil because of lack of transportation due to no access road. Sometimes, even the movement through the river will cut off the road and there will be no way and it became a problem to our people and they suffer a lot more, especially in May, June and early July; no means of going out and no means of coming in,” he said.
Igwe Ajodu recalled how the royal fathers in the area sent a delegation to the senator representing Anambra North, Princess Stella Oduah and Nwoye when the road project was not captured in the 2016 budget, complaining about non-inclusion.
The monarch noted that while the Senator kept mum over their letter, Nwoye promised that the road would be accommodated in the supplementary budget, which he fulfilled and also facilitated the inclusion of the road in the 2018 Budget.
Also, the President of Anam People’s Forum, Chief Sylvester Okeke, in his remarks said: “We are not surprised at the achievements and projects you (Nwoye) are attracting to our area. But we hope the road will not be abandoned. This is the only road we have requested the government to complete for us.”
A community leader, Chief Emma Nnacho, also thanked Nwoye.
“We are grateful to you for ensuring that this road project finally takes off. We will ever remain grateful to you. A good representative is one who remembers his people. You have continued to empower the people despite the outcome of the November 18, 2017 governorship election.”
At the site, a representative of the contractors and that of the Federal Ministry of Works assured that the work would be done according to the specification and urged the communities to give the contractors maximum cooperation.