ENUGU—THE condition of federal roads in the South- East is deplorable. They have indeed become death traps. Some of them have been abandoned and now out of use. Also, state roads are not better off. Though the Federal Government awarded contracts for two major roads in the zone, the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha road and the Enugu-Okigwe-Umuahia-Aba, work on the roads, especially the Enugu-Onitsha is not commendable.
But the level of work on the Enugu-Okigwe-Umuahia is commendable. In fact, from the Leru axis down to Okigwe to Umuahia, has been completed and in use now, though the firm handling the work is still working on the drainages. The greatest obstacle that has been delaying the Umuchieze to Enugu axis is the cattle market at Lokpanta. The Northern cattle traders constitute nuisance here by parking their trucks on thev two lanes of the road. However, there seems to be hope following the ongoing construction of two large trailer parks at the market. With the parks being put in place, work has already commenced from the Umuchieze axis to Enugu.
However, the Okigwe-Owerri roads, Umuahia-Owerri, among others, are in very bad shape. The Aba-Ikot Ekpene road could rightly be described as the worst. Communities along the Aba-Ikot Ekpene highway in Abia State have been lamenting the dilapidated state of the road and crying that the federal and state governments should urgently fix the road. The communities: Ehere, Ukpakiri, Ohanze, Umuokpo, Onicha Ngwa, Nlagu, all in Obingwa Local Government Area have been cut off from Aba, their major market on account of the state of the road. The worst sections of the road are the Opobo junction to Ukpakiri as well as the stretch between Umuokpo and the Nigerian Christian Hospital, at Nlagu, a border town between Abia and Akwa Ibom States.
Over 2,000 businesses operating along the road have since closed shop as motorists no longer ply the road. It was gathered that the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, had paid several visits to the Aba-Ikot Ekpene road. Rehabilitation works commenced at a stage on the Umuokpo-Amairinabuo stretch, but the construction firm abandoned the job, perhaps due to lack of funds. Speaking with South-East Voice, Eze-Elect of Umuokpo Amairinabuo autonomous community in Obingwa Council, Chief Micah Ohajuru, said that his community could no longer access Aba town or Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State due to the dilapidated state of the Aba-Ikot Ekpene highway.
“The poor state of the Aba-Ikot Ekpene highway has caused untold suffering as some of them have been cut off from their neighbours. We can’t access the Nigerian Christian Hospital at Nlagu, which is the major health institution in my area. “You can also see the number of businesses which have closed shop due to the dilapidated state of the road. These businesses provided employment to over 5,000 families. “Now, they have closed shop because the Federal Government refused to rehabilitate the road. Our people are suffering; the Federal Government should do the needful. We can no longer access Aba town or Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State,” the monarch lamented.
The Obehie – Akwete- Azumini – Ukanafun federal highway is also in a dilapidated state as road users now wade through bush paths to get to their destinations. On the Aba axis of the Enugu- Aba-Port Harcourt road, the rehabilitation work has stopped after the former toll gate at Isiala Ngwa area. Huge craters, large enough to bury trucks, adorn the stretch from Arungwa junction in Osisioma Ngwa to the Imo gate border with Rivers State.