By Luke Mgboh
In the beginning, roads were paths made by animals. They were later adopted by humans to serve their own needs. Modern roads and highways are described as travelled ways on which people, animals or wheeled vehicles move. The term ‘road’ is, therefore, a rural, less travelled way, while the word ‘street’ denotes an urban roadway. ‘Highway’ refers to a major rural travelled way.
In every society, roads are catalysts to economic growth. They provide important social benefits also. They, for instance, provide access to employment, social, health and educational services, thereby serving as an antidote to hunger, poverty, backwardness and underdevelopment. Indeed, the importance of good road networks in modern times can never be over-stretched.
On assumption of office six years ago, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State undoubtedly realised this much and made design, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of urban and rural roads among his priorities. Today, over 700 kilometres of roads, spread across the state, have been completed with asphalt, while many others are ongoing in the same haste and urgency across the state. It is on record that no fewer than 250 road projects are either completed or are ongoing in different parts of the state.
Early in his administration, the New Market-9th Mile portion of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway had become a death trap. Accidents were regularly recorded on the highway, leading to injury and loss of life. The tragic status of the highway was so bad that one needed to dust up his will before travelling on the highway.
At that time, the only option left for motorists was to ply the old Ngwo road or Milken Hill road, as it was popularly called. Again, this road had become notorious for its dangerously bendy nature, which winded through the foot of the thick-forested hill, bounded by a very deep gully. Underneath the hill were relics of coal mines and their beautiful tunnels, which, unfortunately, were not protective.
Indeed, the hill has always been a beautiful sight. It is still beautiful. Yet, over time, drivers were generally encouraged to drive slowly and cautiously, given its dangerously meandering nature. Oftentimes, vehicles slid down the valley, especially when and if utmost care was not exercised by the driver.
Coincidentally the road at that time was also caving in due to erosion, making it unsafe for motorists and for all those who travelled through it. It was, therefore, obvious that something must be urgently done to salvage the road, more so, when the same Milken Hill road was a major economic gateway for the people of Enugu State.
It was against this background that Governor Ugwuanyi embarked on redesigning and constructing the popular Milken Hill road. His approach was double-barreled in nature. He not only redesigned and constructed the 5.50km New Market-Milken Hill-Ngwo-9th Mile Corner Road, he also rehabilitated the New Market-Iva Valley flyover portion of the Enugu-Onitsha Express road. He expanded the Milken Hill road, using strong concrete pavements as barricade to prevent vehicles from falling into the deep gully and installed solar-powered streetlights to light up the road at night.
The result was astonishing. Many who had been there before lost their breath in utter amazement. They would never have imagined that such engineering wonder could happen in Africa, considering the difficult nature of the road. Even among engineering experts, it is hard to believe that this feat is possible. But with Governor Ugwuanyi, impossible is very possible.
Today, Milken Hill road has become a tremendously beautiful sight: green, lush and natural. It has become an endearing road path to travel, a path where motorists, cyclists and even mountain hikers are wrapped in the bosom of Mother Nature.
Another point to acknowledge with joy about the administration’s road programme is its spread across urban and rural centres. The rural people of the state certainly are not abandoned and ignored. Some of the rural projects are Amaechi-Uwani road, Ebony Paint road, Ugwogo-Nike-Ikem road, Umualor-Eha-Amufu road, Eha-Amufu-Nkalagu road, Amaechi-Idodo-Amuzam-Amagunze road, Ugbawka-Nara-Nkerefi road, Ogonogoeji-Ndiagu-Akpugo road, Agbani-Afor-Amauri road, ongoing Onuoha-Obi-Offia and Bunker roads, among others.
But that is not all there is about the several beautiful roads of Enugu State. Driving in Enugu State has become an exercise of ease, safety and comfort. No more is the rough bumpy drive that destabilizes drivers!
Despite the challenging economic situation in the country as a result of the global pandemic and a sharp drop in federal allocation, the number of these roads is amazing too. There are several of them. A most recent one is the Etudo/Awkunanaw Street, which was hitherto in a very deplorable state. The delivery of this brand-new road has generated so much joy among residents of the state.
During the governor’s visit to the street, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Greg Nnaji, said, “The road was captured in the 2021 budget deliverables as a Special Intervention Project for urgent attention because of its socioeconomic importance to residents of the area”.
Other roads constructed and rehabilitated within the metropolis include Airport-Roundabout-Orie-St. Patrick’s-Eke Obinagu road, Abakpa Nike and Nike Road, Enugu-Abakaliki (Ekeobinagu Junction)-Onunweneabo-Akpuga Nike road, Achi-Akpo-Daughters of Divine Love (DDL) road.
Also rehabilitated and reconstructed are Njamanze entrance, Bonny lane, Asata chemist lane all in Ogui road, Mount Street GRA, New Market roundabout, Civil Defense, Works road, Agu-Abor-Ngenevu and Broderick roads, Nkpokiti Estate Road, Ibuzor Street, Agbani/Ohofia Street, Afam Okereke Street, Ugwuoba, Onitsha, Ukehe streets, mostly in Independence Layout.
Others are Eleanor Estate road, John Nwodo close, Owerre Izukala, Timbershed/ Kenyatta-Ugwuaji-Lomalinda-Umunano Street, Maryland-Lomalinda-Onukwe Street and so other roads scattered across Enugu too numerous to mention, including the commencement of the construction of the all-important flyover at Nike Lake T-junction.
In the rural areas, all the three senatorial zones are carried along. Some of the recently launched roads include the 22.443km Nike-Mpu-Ogbodu Abba-Obollo-Etiti road, which was awarded under the Phase 1 roads of the Rural Access and Mobility Project (#RAMP-2) in the state.
Inaugurating the road, which connects Isi-Uzo and Udenu LGAs of Enugu State, Governor Ugwuanyi explained that the project was in line with his administration’s rural development agenda, stressing that it would ease the movement of goods, services and persons, while advancing his administration’s rural connectivity and integrated development strategy. The Governor urged the people to own and protect the road.
In the same vein, countless road projects have been designed and completed or rehabilitated in different senatorial districts of the state in line with the administration’s massive rural development agenda.
At this juncture, it is indeed important to mention a few of the road projects; beginning with Enugu West Senatorial Zone. They are Uhuogiri – Nnewe – Oduma road, Dan Ukey road, Amachalla – Onovo- Nzerem road, Ogbaku – Ogugu – Owelli – Ihe road, Ngene – Onyibo Agunese Mmaku road, Ituku road, 9th Mile -Anjali – Imezi Owa road, Mission Junction- Owollotti – Ugwuike Ogoma road, Amaeke Ngwo – Nsude road, 9th Mile bypass, Enugu Eke – Ogui Uno – Oma Eke Road, Akpakume – Nze – Aku road, failed portion of the 9th Mile – Udi – Oji River- Ugwuoba – Anambra State road and several others.
The academic community of Nsukka town, which is in Enugu North Senatorial Zone, will forever be grateful to the Governor for the transformation of the area. The dualization of Opi – Nsukka road positively changed the entire landscape of the academic community.
Just recently, Governor Ugwuanyi delivered a standard asphalt road and solar powered street lights to Ohodo community in Igbo -Etiti Local Government Area.
It was also happy time for the people of Igugu in Udenu Local Government Area as the people appreciated the Governor for asphalting the 6.110km road in their community.
Other constructed or rehabilitated roads in the zone include the Post office- Roundabout- Odenigbo – Ogurugu – Ikenga Hotel road, Umuezeobi – Nru junction – University Gate road, Ogurute – Mkpamute – Igogoro – Ikpamodo – Okpo – Amaja road, Obum Orba junction – Imilike Ani – Ezimo – Uno ring road, Ugbene – Ajima – Ezeani – Army barrack road, Ozidem – Nrobo – Abbi – Nimbo road, Ogurute – Enugu – Ezike road and many others.
The Governor did not stop at State roads but also embarked on rehabilitation of some failed portions of Federal roads within the state. Some of the Federal roads rehabilitated include Opi – Obollo – Affor road , 9th Mile (stretch from Ekochin junction to Mechanic village), Egede junction, Amoka Okpatu, Army Checkpoint, Opi junction by Holy Child Catholic Church, Ochima , towards Ogbede junction etc.
From the above analysis, it is clear that the six years of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the saddle as Governor of Enugu State is indeed a blessing. No doubt, the people of Enugu State will forever be grateful to their Governor for his “Civil Engineering Wonders” at Milken Hill and for leaving the state in the hand of God.