Commuters and motorists travelling to Port Harcourt and other parts of Rivers State including Bayelsa State and vice visa through the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway are currently experiencing some excruciating pains, anguish and agony as the Umuojima Osisioma-Alaoji portion of the highway has collapsed completely.
Other areas from there to Obigbo, Rivers State are also in the state of disrepair, observed our Reporter.
On Saturday, August 14, 2021, when our Reporter visited the axis, less than 200 heavy duty trucks (trailers and tankers) were trapped in the messy mesh as the trucks fell endlessly resulting in blockages of the slim good portion available.
People were seen pushing some of the trucks to give way for passage which figuratively pushed back on their pushers as the heavy duty vehicles followed each other bumper to bumper, leaving no space for motorcycles (Okada) to meander out of the dreadlock.
Some of the bus, trailer and tanker drivers told our Reporter that they have been there for over three days without the vision of wriggling out of the imbroglio in sight. It was indeed a lamentation galore for those who have anything to do with the road.
There are big craters all over the area from Umuojima Osisioma to Obehie junction and beyond as our Reporter moved painfully through the dilapidated expressway on Saturday. The crater could even swallow a car.
The situation was made worse by the continuous pounding of Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Southeast by the rains. Aba and other adjourning towns and cities are in the rain forest belt of the Southern Hemisphere. The Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, built in 1978-1979 by the then military government of Olusegun Obasanjo is a federal road, but its maintenance has not received enough boosts.
Both the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) as well as the contracting firm handling the project were unavailable for comment as at the time of filing this reporter.
However a portion of the Umuojima Osisioma axis has been repaired. Certainly, if not for the work of reconstructing the inner roads of Aba, which the Okezie Ikpeazu administration has done since it came into office, Aba would have been completely cut off from the rest of the world.
Aba is a high class commercial city that attracts businessmen and women from other parts of the Southeast, the South-south, Western and Northern Nigeria including West and Central African sub regions.
It is in the rain forest belt of the Southern hemisphere and needs careful and continuous and strategic planning and attention to save it from swallowed up by floods. The incessant rains that pound the town ceaselessly have become a snag to this beautifully outlaid city. The Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway passes through the city.
Except for the roads built and rebuilt by the Okezie administration, small cars travelling to Rivers and Bayelsa States including the famous Alaoji Spare Market, Ukwa West and East, EEDC transmission station and vice visa would have also been trapped in the messy mesh of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway.
Traders, motorists, commuters artisans sent a Save-Our-Soul (SOS) message through our Reporter to the federal government to urgently come to their rescue by asking the contracting firm to speed its work on the road and finish without delay.
At the Onions Market at Uratta, Mr Isaku Adamu, an onions trader, told this Magazine, The Witness, that as a result of the bad state of the road, traders there are no longer selling their wares as before. “I want the government to quickly repair the road so that our customers will to buy our goods. We’re suffering”, he added.
Alhaji Faruk Abubakar who is also a trader in the market said the traders have lost millions of naira because of the reduction of sales occasioned by the dilapidation of the road. “Though we managed to get our goods, onions, goat, etc from the North, it’s easy at all bring them to this point.
“Have you seen how bad the situation is? A trailer carrying onions to Aba which is perishable will remain in a particular place for days; don’t you think that such good would get spoilt? He asked rhetorically.
“They started from somewhere near Osisioma and stopped. Maybe it’s because of the rains, but they asked the contract to complete his work. We’re traders, we’re suffering, we don’t enough money again”, added.
An artisan at Eke Form Uratta axis, Mr Benedict Emeagi lamented that due to loss of business, people traders and artisans doing business in the flank have relocated. I’m a bus mechanic/panel beater, how would drivers to here to give business? Please tell them to urgently come to our rescue.
“This road you see here is strategic. It leads to Rivers and Bayelsa States”, he opined. Reminded that it is a federal road, Emeagi said “That’s what I’m saying, whoever is responsible should make haste to repair the road. We feed our families, pay house rent and school fees from what we do here and if there’s no business, then we’ll be in trouble”.
An Okada rider, who gave his name as Prince said “I don’t want to comment on the bad road; all I need is Biafra. Oga, let me tell you, if Biafra comes, all these things, bad roads, neglect etc we stop. I’ll not say further”, he vowed.
Nonetheless, Kingsley Uwakwa, a motorist believed that what those working on the road need do is a strong push to get it competed from Osisioma to Obigbo, Rivers State. “Buhari’s government should be serious about it because the economic value cannot be quantified”, he declared.
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.