From Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
Residents of different parts of Imo State are gnashing their teeth over the dilapidated roads in their areas. They are lamenting that their plight has become unbearable.
People in the affected areas are also groaning that the roads were gradually turning into death traps. Investigation revealed that businesses are collapsing as a result. People go through hell going and returning from their places of work or business. The residents’ health is not spared even as hours are daily lost on each journey.
Coming into Owerri, the state capital, from the Sam Mbakwe Airport through the Aba-Owerri Road, you will be shocked at the state of the facility. While some portions have completely failed, causing traffic snarl, some are barely passable.
Also worrisome among the failed roads in Owerr are Ring Road 2, Emmanuel College by Wetheral Road, Works Layout, World Bank, Njaba/Nkume, MCC, Hardel- Akwakuma and Umuchima- Urualla roads among others.
Ring Road 2, which was recently cut into two by erosion, is now deserted by all. Motorists and pedestrians have completely abandoned the road due to the deep gully there. The people’s fear is that if this road is not quickly attended to, the gully may continue to expand and swallow houses that are close to it.
The other inland roads too need urgent attention, just like the Ring Road 2. Many of the roads have cracked and dotted with potholes and craters. The closeness of this road to the Otta Mmiri gives the people more reason for apprehension.
There is also panic among the motorists and commuters that if vehicles are allowed to continue plying these roads without urgent rehabilitation, it may also cut into two like the Ring Road 2.
Some of the embittered residents are also accusing the last administration of constructing roads that could not stand the test of time. In fact, they likened many of the defected roads to typical substandard products from China. The development has led to people referring to them as ‘China roads’.
It was gathered that the Emmanuel College by Wetheral Road almost claimed a victim penultimate week when a motorist plunged into a canal along the road. The driver was confused by the heavy flood that completely covered the road and the canal. His vehicle was almost buried in the canal. Fortunately, he survived by the help of passersby who pulled him out.
Also, Spibat Road leading to the house of former Governor Rochas Okorocha is in need of urgent repair otherwise it might become impassable in the next few weeks.
Roads in the rural areas of the state are also not left out as they continue to fail without any government intervention in sight. They are sources of worry to residents. Some of them are: Ndegwu/Amakohia Ubi, Irete/Ndegwu, Ihiagwa/Nekede roads, among many others.
Indigenes of Ndegwu are currently at the mercy of God as the deplorable condition of their roads has almost severed them from their neighbouring communities. Even commercial motorbikes have since refused plying the road leading to the community. The indigenes are left stranded.
Similarly, Nekede Mechanics village, which harbours mostly artisans and other low-income earners, are lamenting over the deplorable conditions of their roads, which they said have hampered economic activities in the area. Their businesses are scarcely patronised these days due to their inaccessible location.
The residents, who spoke to Daily Sun, appealed to Governor Hope Uzodimma to come to their rescue by rehabilitating the roads to lessen the harrowing experience of both the residents and their customers while bringing their vehicles for repairs.
They noted that the terrible condition of the roads to the mechanic village has become a clog in their businesses. And that the condition of the road has become even worse with the coming of the rainy season.
A mechanic and resident of the village, Ichie Oke, said that the terrible state of road to the mechanic village is of great concern to residents of the area.
“I am an engineer based at Nekede Mechanic Village. Our road is in bad state. The environment is also bad. Customers who usually patronise us now find it difficult come here, especially after this place was demolished by Okorocha’s administration,” he said.
Also, Uzoma Victor, a mechanic and an indigene of Nekede community, said: “Governor Uzodimma should please fix the road so that more customers can come around for our services.”
Another road that residents of the state greatly fear is the Y-junction, Nkume Road in Njaba Local Government Area (LGA). The Njaba bridge axis is almost impassable. The gradual wearing off of the road may likely lead to total collapse. The road is about cutting into two with the attendant effect of separating Nkume community and its neighbouring communities.
The entire Njaba Bridge from Owerri Orlu axis to Y-Junction Nkume is in need of urgent repair to avert looming loss of lives and continuous depreciation of property in the neighbourhoods.
An indigene of the community, Mr Ifeanyi Obiajulu, who expressed concern, said that the floor of the bridge was full of cracks and potholes.
“Anytime it rains, the Y-Junction at Nkume Road, leading to Banana Junction and down to Orlu town is usually flooded, making them difficult for vehicles and motorcycles to move.
“The governor promised to fix the Awo-nmama Okwudo Road within 18 months after assumption of office, but today, we are still where we are,” Obiajulu said.
Also reacting to the unpalatable development, Mr. Steve Uzechi described the state of the road as terrible and sad.
He said: “I don’t know exactly what the government is doing about the terrible state of this road. The role of a leader is to ensure the well-being of its citizens, but the reverse is the case as they do not care about the welfare of the people.”
A motorist at the Y-Junction, who craved anonymity, said: “I don’t work during rainy season because it might damage my vehicle. Only motorcycles are fortunate enough to work during that time and they increase transport fares.
“Even on a normal day, I do repair my vehicle like twice a day because of how bad the road is.”
The people rejoiced when the administration of Uzodimma came on board, especially with the promise he made on roads according to his ‘3R’ mantra, which are Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery.
Perhaps, the governor might have focused more on the last mantra, ‘Recovery’ and moving on a seeming slow pace with the other two Rs.
The governor had repeatedly assured the people of constructing long-lasting roads in the state when the rain subsides. Already, he has started constructing the Owerri/Orlu and Okigwe/Owerri roads, but the work is slow.
Also, he has promised to embark on rural projects to ease the sufferings of those residing there.