Ohanku Road, with its environs, is the suburb of Aba, the Enyimba city. It is nicknamed Amanmuong in derogatory reference to the makeshift abode of some deprived individuals from Cross River/Akwa Ibom States who, from the 1920s to 1990s inhabited that godforsaken outskirt of the commercial town because of their inability to pay for house rents in Aba metropolis.
Nmuong, some people say, is water in Ibibio language, and it therefore underscores that reference on them as Nmuong (water) people, while the place where they inhabited is Ama, (large compound, expanse of land etc) in Igbo terminology. Thus, Amanmuong became a coinage and word for derogatory abandonment of low class individuals that inhabit this southern part of Ngwa Road of Aba Township.
On Tuesday, when this reporter visited there to ascertain what the Abia State government has done to improve their wellbeing by constructing the much touted Ohanku Road, that serves as a major artery to crowds of roads and streets that draw their tributaries from it, it was indeed discovered that the road, like the entire sub city still suffers from the derogate it is used to despite the government’s shenanigan.
Government after government from the colonial days has neglected Ohanku Road and indeed all Amaamuhum area and its numerous residents and had shunned it like plague of leper except during the elections. Despites the deluge of roads, streets, avenues and lanes in the area, Amanmuong remains centre of neglect, hate and terror. It is a home to crimes and criminalities as the reporter was told that criminals have now set up their own government and at all times collect tributes from their ‘subjects’.
Building a major road, like Ohanku would connect the residents to the larger Aba society as security forces will also have unrestrained access to the various routes and paths that lead to nowhere in the area, except to the dens of robbers. The roads are undone apparently, because the inhabitants of the area do not a voice in Aba South Local Government Council, let alone Abia State. To the people in government, they are the dredge of the society that shouldn’t be reckoned with.
Interestingly, Ohanku leads to Ohanku town in Ukwa East which connects to Port Harcourt and Onne Wharfs. Like the residents observed, the road can serve as a comfortable passage to the Port Harcourt or Onne Wharf and give the numerous Aba importers a route to bring in their imported goods unperturbed if the road is built.
It will serve as the route to send the numerous fabrications and manufactured products to overseas.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration says work aimed at reconstructing the road has begun, but when this reporter visited No 1 Ohanku Road by Ngwa Road, no road contractor was seen on sight as at Tuesday, December 15, 2020. The place was riotous as Keke (tricycles), trying to load passengers and ferry them to the hinterland of Amaamuhum and rounding villages occupied the entrance into the road.
Chief Leo Umunna, a landlord in the area said as he tried to enter a tricycle for onward movement to his house, “We’re in a state of terrible mess; this portion of Ngwa Road/Ohanku junction which is a bit better now was made so by Hon Ossy Prestige, the member representing Aba North/Aba South federal constituency. Since last year, we’ve been swimming in this ocean”, he said pointing to the logged water.
“Tell them that we’re suffering here. The annoying thing is that they collect infrastructure levies, ASEPA fees and all sorts of levies in this area; yet this road is like this to Owerri-Aba”, (a village of about 10 kilometres away). A Keke rider, James Kalu regretted that the tricycle riders and motorcyclists operating in the area have suffered untold hardship because of the bad road network that crisscrosses the area, stressing “We buy spare parts and repair our Keke and machines every day.
Many people interviewed by this reporter at Ohanku Road, described the Okezie Ikpeazu’s government as a monumental failure, insisting that what the government says is different from what it does. “We’re waiting for them in 2023, let them come tell us another lie”, Mrs Alice Adindu submitted.
Meanwhile, following the torrent of complaints of horrible state of the roads, streets, avenues and lane, avis avis Abia State government’s claim of sending contractors to start work on two axis of Ohanku Road – the Ngwa Road junction and the Ohanku town axis, this reporter took a ride to Owerri-Aba near Ohunku town. the discovery he made was that no contractor was on sight as at Tuesday, December 15, 2020. At Owerri-Aba, local traders and residents there believed that “going to Aba town from Owerri-Aba is like travelling from hell to paradise.
Declared Mrs Ukachukwu Osigwe, a resident, “We no longer talk about the road because we don’t have government in Nigeria let alone Abia. Though, I don’t know where you come from, but you rode with us in this Keke and saw the hell we passed through. At several points as we meander our ways through, everyone was asked to raise his/her legs to avoid touching the logged water while inside the Keke.
A journey that would’ve taken us 20 from No 1 Ohanku to Owerri-Aba lasted for 1hour 20 minutes, and they say we have a government!”
At Kentlas Filling Station, Owerri-Aba, the manager of the station whose frontage was heavily waterlogged and marshy refused to talk. “What am I going to say, would it change anything? He queried.
However, a native of the Ngwaoma Community near Owerri-Aba, Comrade Prince Chukwudi who hesitated to talk initially, said however that though the place is the food basket Aba Township, Okezie Ikpeazu’s government may have been taking its time preparatory for a befitting deal.
Nonetheless, a motorcyclist, Michael Okoro from Ebonyi State who conveyed this reporter to a community near Ohanku town, Ndoki Ukwa East, asked rhetorically, “Now that we’ve gotten to this point, is there any sign of earth moving equipment or road construction work going on?
Next Is Obuohia Road
Uche 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.