Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Traders and motorists plying the Onitsha-Owerri Road are crying out to the federal authorities to rescue them from the constant gridlock on the road, which is caused by damaged portions of the highway.
The terrible spots of the road by Tarzan-Eze Iweka, Egbemena Bus Stop and Lords’ Chosen Church axis of the two lanes of the road have been giving motorists and other road users sleepless nights due to the gridlocks created as a result of the bad sections.
The bad spots had often trapped motorists and commuters travelling to or from Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Uyo, Port Harcourt and other places at the place, especially when it rained or when trucks and other articulated vehicles broke down, leading to hellish traffic that lasted many hours.
Some of motorists who spoke to Daily Sun lamented that the bad spots had been like that for the past two years. They noted that the failed portions had deteriorated, as no attention was paid to the road. They expressed dismay that the road had remained deplorable over the years even when top officials of the relevant agencies also make use of the facility.
A commercial bus driver Mr. John Adikpe, appealed to the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to inspect the road and fix the bad spots to ease the flow of traffic along the road.
“We are appealing to the federal government to help us repair the bad portions of the road. It is affecting us in our businesses. It is also affecting the traders and passengers because the road would be locked up for hours, there would be no going up or down. As you can see, the place is too bad and vehicles cannot pass easily. You must slow down to pass through a better place.
“If after this rainy season and nothing is done about fixing those bad portions, it will cut off completely. There are two bad spots within this axis and if it cuts off, it will affect all the vehicles going to Imo, Abia, Cross River, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. It will also affect those who live along this axis like Oba, Ihiala and Ekwusigo” Adikpe said.
A trader at Old Spare Parts Market (Mgbuka), Obosi, Mr. Chibuzo Nwonu, said the gridlock along the road caused by the bad spots affect traders who use the road every day for their business. He wondered why government does not repair roads when it is easier to do but would wait until they have collapsed and claimed lives before repairs would be done.
“If you come here in the morning and evening you will pity us who use this road every day. We trek to our shops most times because of gridlock,. Everywhere would be blocked from Upper Iweka down the flyover to Electrical Market. You know that this road took the federal government years to be constructed and now some portions of the road need to be repaired. Nobody cares until the road is completely cut off. Then they will come and cause more hardship for road users.”
A civil servant who worked at magistrate’s court, Ihiala, Mrs. Uche Ememgini, said, in the past two years, she avoided the road. She recalled that there was a day she was trapped on the road and the court waited long and eventually dismissed because she was not around to do her job as a court clerk.
“I nearly lost my job,” she explained. “So, after that incident, I decided to be following the old road of Nkpor through Obosi and connect to the same Owerri Road in order to boycott the bad spots. Although it is longer and, at times, you meet some traffic along the road, it is not comparable to that of Onitsha-Owerri Road.
“My appeal is that if the federal government refused to repair the bad portions of the road, the state government do it. It will not cost them so much. It is our people that are mostly using the road and suffering on the road, it is our people that are injured along the road, not those in Abuja. I suggest that our governor should look at it in that direction and repair it to save our peoples lives and time,” Ememgini said.
A commuter, Miss Juliet Ibe, narrated how she nearly stayed all night trapped in traffic on the road one day when she was coming back from Lagos, going to Owerri. She was in traffic for four hours. She eventually got to Owerri at about 11.30pm.
“I left Lagos late in the morning but got to Onitsha-Owerri road at about 7pm. Normally, I was supposed to be in Owerri at least by 8pm. But when we got to this place, everywhere was blocked and it was raining. and a truck tumbled and blocked the road.
“The space where smaller buses normally pass was very narrow. Everybody in our vehicle had to get down to enable the bus pass after we had stayed in the traffic for more than three hours. It was a terrible journey that night but we thank God we got to Owerri safely. But my surprise is that the bad portions are still like that up till now without any intervention or repair. This is causing more hardship on road users and that is bad for our leaders,” Ibe said.