Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road: Agony as commuters, residents send SOS to FG


 

The Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road has remained a nightmare for commuters.

Saga Gist reports that many homes within Abia, Akwa-Ibom States and beyond have lost beloved family members and friends in fatal road accidents as a result of the bad road.

Worst hit are commercial drivers who always convey travellers to and from Akwa Ibom and Cross River States from Umuahia, the Abia State capital.They face severe difficulties while accessing the dilapidated road.

Late last year, Miss Chidinma Ogbonna, a final year student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, in Abia State, of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management, was crushed to death on the same Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road by a trailer driver. The incident threw the management and the entire students of the federal university into mourning, pain and agony.

Earlier before the unfortunate death of Chidinma, similar ugly tragedies have also occurred at different sections of the road, a development that led to protest from the university students.

The students barricaded all the routes that led to the bad road, refusing commuters access.

The management of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State has also not been left out in expressing concern over the state of the road.

In a release by Mrs Adanma Odefa, the University’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), he quoted the management as saying, “for the past few weeks, the VC through his SA on Projects, Engr. Richard Onyeaso invited the local FERMA on an inspection of the bad spots, took pictorial evidence and prepared a strong appeal letter to FERMA.

“The VC personally took these documents to FERMA headquarters in Abuja to make further physical appeals. His efforts were rewarded with an official approval for palliative work to begin on the road.”

Also, the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon Sam Onuigbo has disclosed that he is concerned about the pains the people were facing on the deplorable road.

However, critics have expressed disappointment on why full reconstruction work is yet to commence on the federal road despite the much-talked about approval several months ago by the Federal Executive Council presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a phone interview with our correspondent, on Thursday, the Chairman, House of Representatives committee on Climate Change, Hon Sam Onuigbo maintained that reconstruction work had already commenced.

He condemned in strong terms the clandestine and coordinated efforts by some people to peddle lies about the state of the road.

He stated partly, “thankfully, a few persons who stand for the truth undertook to go through the road and provide me with videos of the current state of the road, as a means of encouraging me to disregard the efforts of those who would rather peddle lies for cheap gains than accurately provide reports to the people.

“This road, which is not my sole responsibility since I am not the only government official whom it is under his or her jurisdiction, has become a source of cheap and puerile attacks by some people. I take it all in good grace and continue my duty of continuously working hard for the good of my people. Sometimes, it seems as if I am the only leader being held accountable. While this encourages me to work harder, I sometimes wish that our people can hold other leaders to account as much as they try to hold me”.

Meanwhile, a cross section of Abia citizens, on Thursday, lamented that the road had become a death trap to road users.

In an interview, Mr Ebuka Mbanaso, a civil servant in Abia, called on the government and the contractors to hasten the rehabilitation work on the road, in order to end the trauma, pains and agony on many families, through loss of beloved ones.

Mbanaso equally lamented that students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State were always crushed by vehicles on the road, due to brake failure or potholes.

Also speaking, a provision shop owner, Madam Chiamaka Nzomuche begged the government to speedy work on the road, stressing that, “The completion of the reconstruction work will save our lives and properties”.

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