Checks by our Reporter show that major portions of the road which is taking in heavy traffic could fail any moment from now because of some defects as a result of poor asphalting. The road links Obingwa with towns like Aba metropolis, Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom and Cross on the Southeast flank while it does so in the South-south flank to Ukwa in Abia and Rivers State.
Actually, motorists going to Umuahia from Aba now make a detour from the Obikabia roundabout and snake their way to Omoba linking Umuikaa en-route Umuahia or Owerri. This connection has helped and in fact to lessened the burden of traffic holdup or jam at the Aba-Owerri Road or Waterside axis of Aba metropolis.
At Obikabia roundabout as at the time our Reporter visited, there were no streets lights or traffic lights to direct traffic. The road is built without considering some protective factors like Speed Breaks, Signs on dangerous bends in some of the axis as one journeys toward Umuahia. Besides, the drainage stops shortly after the roundabout and it was observed that the absence of it puts the road in danger of damage any time soon. Though the residents commended Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for reconstructing the ever busy highway which according to them, “has relieved Aba of the notorious traffic jam” in some getaway roads, they nonetheless condemned what they referred as “lack of proper planning that would have ensured that the road is not marred or doesn’t fail due to heavy intake of vehicular or human activities. Another worrisome factor is the activities of some builders of makeshift stalls owners who encroach on the road to do business.
“Okezie has done well in reconstructing this road, but the illegal action of land speculators, illegal builders who are building structures and extending same to the road should be checked, said Engr Jasper Ihesiulo, who queried the rationale behind the sudden emergence of some buildings and stalls on the edge of the drain. “I don’t know what the Town Planning Authority is doing; they’ve failed to check the evil activities of these road spoilers”, Ihesiulo, who claimed to have recently returned to Aba from Port Harcourt further added.
Similarly, Prince Chibundu, while lauding the Abia State government for the road and installation of the statue of former Regional Minister of Works, Chief Paul Ururuka at the roundabout, pointed at a plaza at the Obikabia roundabout that he claimed has immensely benefitted from the reconstruction exercise.
“That plaza there”, he said, raising his fingers to the direction of the plaza, “is a major beneficiary of this project. Business now booms there”.
Both Chinwendu Monday and Mrs Nnenna Ogbonna, described the road project as a good thing that has happened to the axis. “It links Ukaegbu, Ehere and others to Aba and Akwa Ibom”, they noted. While Monday explained that Abia State has been ruled by many governors since its creation, “it’s only Okezie Ikpeazu that has reconstructed this road, knowing the economic value of this Obikabia to Aba”, Mrs Ogbonna said as she literarily directed the Reporter to “go to Nkwo Nwelechi”, some metres away to behold a dangerous and sharp bend,
“People are dying there every day as a result of accident. No road sign to warn oncoming vehicles of the sharp corner”.
“There are secondary and primary schools there. Pupils and students are killed every time, no bumps, just nothing, it’s a dead trap”, she said.
A cyclist, Elder Sunday Amanze of Seventh Day Adventist Church, Mgboko Obete, declared, “Well, the road is good for now. But they need to repair some failed portions particularly the Metallurgical Complex axis”.
For Priest Chiemela Onugha, a trader at the Obikabia junction, “This reconstruction is not human and vehicular friendly. I’m not saying that the governor didn’t do well by reconstructing the road, but there are structural defects on it. As you move to Umuahia, you won’t see speed breaks to stop you from speeding. No marking, mileage signs, no Zebra Crossing sign, no speed break sign. TIMAAS (Traffic and Indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State) is causing confusion at the roundabout because there’s no traffic light there”, he asserted pointing at the direction of the Obikabia junction.
At Nkwo Nwelechi, our Reporter confirmed the presence of a dangerous and sharp bend that needed some signs to warn motorists as they approach the market. Mr Ogwo Onwuka (trader) and Miss Joy Chiedozie (hairstylist) at the market disclosed that the Omoba axis is filled with potholes. “Tricycles can’t easily ply there right now. Miss Joy added “let them come and put traffic signs and speed breaks here. The other day, a fatal accident occurred in front of this market and some people died”.
Another hairstylist, Confidence Stanley told our Reporter that drivers, particularly drunken ones drive recklessly while approaching the market, stressing, “The only thing that would check their excessive driving will be bumps and also road signs. Ogwo Onwuka who had earlier complained of absence of roads signs at the Obikabia junction said “is that roundabout you’re seeing not supposed to have a traffic light? Traffic light should do what TIMAAS is presently doing there. There’s confusion during rush hours every day”.
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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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.