Operation See Projects (OSP)
Umuahia, the Abia State capital has since the 1940s been referred to as a cow city because of the largeness and menace of cows herded by some groups of northerners (before now). The city is also derided for the preponderance of many dilapidated private and public structures in it.
Government after government has continually to sit in this capital city with little or nothing to add to its fortune, reclassification and beautification; giving credence to the derision that Umuahia of 1960s is still Umuahia of 2022. But there is an aspect of Umuahia that has been steered from this disrepute. It is Aba Road, a major artery that leads commuters away from the city to other parts of the state and beyond.
Aba Road was reconstructed about four years ago by the present government led by Okezie Ikpeazu when he assumed the leadership of the state. The solidly bituminous road stretches from Railway Corner/Wall Clock/Post Office axis of Umuahia to Old Umuahia. The road was an eyesore before Ikpeazu’s intervention. Despite the palliatives on it by past governments, the road served as a clog and a thorn to motorists who regularly lost their cars to the pothole filled marshy terrain, particularly the Eastern Comfort axis.
However, a different singsong is being song by the commuters on the road which by the way is a federal road. It is indeed suitable for driving conditions as commuters now ply on it with heavenly easy and bless the name of the man behind the reconstruction, Okezie Ikpeazie. Their joy is that it was rebuilt by one of the reputable construction giants Nigeria presently has, the Arab Contractors OAO Nigeria Limited.
However, speed breakers are missing in the places speed breakers are supposed to be inserted. Take for instance, Afor Ibeji Market in Old Umuahia, speeding motorists always knock down traders and their customers, leading to the traders and visitors to the ancient market to wonder whether the road’s reconstruction was a blessing or curse in disguise. They told our Reporter this week that “it wasn’t up to five minutes before your arrival that we experienced a fatal accident in front of this market. We lost two persons to a speeding vehicle”. Mrs Helen Nnaji (a nursing mother) and Mrs Chinedu Ogbonna, both traders in the market, said in misty eyes.
Both are petty traders. Their words, “Though our businesses have improved tremendously because of the new road, but we’re losing people and goods regularly to death. Yesterday, a speeding tipper lost control and rammed into some people purchasing our wares”. All we need are bumps; the speed breakers, that will forestall excessive speed within the vicinity of the market”. Road accident has become a regular occurrence here”, Mrs Nnaji lamented.
At Stanpol after the Eastern Comfort, Mrs Florence Ibe, a kiosk owner thanked God for answering her prayers by touching Ikpeazu to rebuild the road, but regretted that the governor does not intermingle with the masses. “I’ve not seen him before in my life except on television. The irony is that he passes through this road to Aba and elsewhere and does not wave nor acknowledge our greetings.
“Orji Uzor Kalu used to come down from the vehicle and interact with the people during his days as governor, but not so with this governor. He winds up in the tinted jeep and zooms past every time. Is that the way governance will get us, the masses? In fact, in Orji Uzor’s case, he used to ride in a Coaster vehicle and by so doing; we’re seeing his face every time he passed by”, she asserted.
Similarly, Emmanuel Ifeanyichukwu, a furniture maker beside her concurred, “I don’t know where you’re coming from (referring to the Reporter), but let him come closer to the people. As for this road, help us to thank him immensely; he’s done well. The quality is superb”. Emmanuel particularly lashed out at “reneges” whom he accused of dumping refuse or embarking on activities that retard the road and vowed that he will particularly tongue-lash whoever he sees engaging in actions inimical to the longevity of the new road.
Blessing Ndubuaku, a dealer on women headscarf and other accessories and Mrs Chinedu Chimezie, a roasted yam seller at Isi Court drew the attention of the Reporter to the deplorable state of the New Road–Ahiaukwu—Olokoro Road. “He has done well on this road, (Aba Road); he should face other roads, particularly state roads with similar dilapidated challenge.
“Please tell the governor to visit Umuobia Housing Estate. The roads in the estate are impassable”, said Blessing, “Someone graciously graded them in December last year. If not for that grace, landlords and tenants there would’ve found it difficult to access the estate”.
“Since he has graciously started rebuilding some federal roads, he should move into Umuahia—Ikwuano—Ikot Ekpene, Aba –Azumini Road and Aba—Ikot Ekpene Road. He has done well by reconstructing this Aba Road which terminates in Old Umuahia, Our governor should also consider other roads in Umuahia axis”.
At the GG Oil and Gas Petroleum Station, Old Umuahia where the reconstruction project stopped, Miss Chinemerem Ndubuisi, a petrol attendant, begged for the continuation of the reconstruction of the Aba Road project to the Ubakala Expressway junction. “Also, let the governor team up with the federal government to reconstruct the Umuahia –Ikot Ekpene Road. If they do so, it’ll be wonderful. I’m from that part of the state. Please, tell them to work on the road before the rainy season, I’ll remain ever grateful if that is done”, she enthused.
Another respondent to thewitness magazine enquiries, Emeka Ebube, a commercial motocyclist (Okada rider) also emphasised the need to build the Ikwuano axis of Umuahia—Ikot Road. “Why is it that roads leading to Abia State are bad? Take for instance; the one that passes through Akwa Ibom to Arochukwu in Abia, it’s only good at the Akwa Ibom side, but dilapidated from the borders of Abia State”. If Governor Ikpeazu takes it as a challenge, the Umuahia—Ohafia–Arochukwu will be built before he leaves office”.
Note: Operation See Projects is an assessment programme embarked upon by thewitness magazine to ascertain the projects built by public officeholders both elected and appointed across the nation, particularly in Abia State in the past 8 years and to make out the impact of the projects on the people supposedly the beneficiaries.
The people are the ones to say it the way it is.
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Contact: Hon uche nwosu – 08035766615Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.