Sorrow, tears on federal road in Rivers

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The Igbo-Etche–Eleme Road in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State, is in a terrible state crippling commercial and social activities. Commuters have appealed for urgent Federal Government’s intervention to fix the deplorable road, reports Shola O’Neil

 

MOTORISTS and commuters who pass through the Igbo-Etche – Eleme Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State have appealed for urgent Federal Government’s intervention to fix the deplorable road.

Residents and business owners in the area lamented to our reporter that the deplorable state of the road has crippled commercial and social activities in the area, as travellers now shun the route.

Our reporter, who visited the road yesterday, learnt that the strategic road, which links dozens of towns in the state and nearby Imo State, has failed at more than one point.

Angry residents and motorists decried the perceived non-chalant attitude of the federal and state governments towards the road, stressing that, “the road has been bad for months and there is no effort to repair it.”

Motorists travelling on the busy Port Harcourt-Enugu expressway use the road to avoid the gnarling traffic occasioned by ongoing repair of the Obigbo axis of that road.

“This road links Igbo-Etche to Eleme Junction and the East-West Road, but for months now the road has become a source of worry to motorists and passengers who use the road,” one of the aggrieved business owners in the area, who simply identified himself as Lawrence, told our reporter.

Lawrence explained that a trip from Igbo-Etche to Eleme junction usually cost N100 – N150, but lamented that due to the failure of that portion of the road, it now costs between N200 – N300.

“Before, from Igbo-Etche community to Eleme Junction was N100, but now from Igbo-Etche to here (bad spot) is N150, and from here to Eleme Junction is N100. We are suffering so much on this road, especially when it rains.”

Car owners living in the communities around the bad spot now opt for a motorcycle as a means of commuting to and from their work and business places.

“We are suffering; everybody living around here is suffering. Those who own business here can’t feed their families again, because people are avoiding this area. Any time it rains, if you see the holdup you will understand,” Mr Omoregie Henry said.

Stressing that road users are not interested in the Federal or state government or APC/PDP politics, respondents said they merely want the government to fix the road urgently.

“As it is now, very soon we would need canoes to cross the road because if they don’t fix it immediately, the road will get worse. Trucks are plying the road. The road leads to Ngor-Okpala (Imo State), exit to Port Harcourt-Owerri Expressways and other communities in Etche Local Government.”

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, speaking through his Special Assistant on Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, slammed the Federal Government for the deplorable state of the road, stressing that the state was yet to get a refund for an earlier work done.

Nwakaudu said: “The road in questions is a federal road. Only recently, it was reconstructed by the Rivers State Government.”

“At present, the state government is working to get a refund of funds used in intervening in Federal Roads. While other states have received their refund, Rivers is the only state yet to receive the refund.”

“Recall that on August 8, 2019 Rivers State Governor stated that Rivers is the only state of the Federation that the Federal Government has refused to refund monies used to execute Federal Projects.”

Wike, speaking when Rivers State Traditional Rulers paid him a solidarity visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt, regretted that politics have been placed above due process under the current dispensation.”

“Of all the 36 states of the federation, it is only Rives State that they refused to refund resources used to execute Federal projects,” he said, adding that he would not join governors who sell their people to seek relevance.

But opposition sources in Etche local government area claimed that a recent planned intervention by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to fix the road was rebuffed by the state government. This could not be independently confirmed.

 

Significance of the road

IGBO-ETCHE is one of the fast-growing communities in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State. The area is connected to other parts of the state by the Igbo-Etche – Eleme Junction on the east, and Igbo-Etche-Igwuruta-Chokocho on the other end.

The verve of this community owes mainly to its location as a nerve centre of Etche communities and Port Harcourt metropolis on the one hand, and from Eleme Junction to the major industrial and commercial hubs of Onne and other parts of Eleme.

Over the past three years, vehicular traffic on the Igbo-Etche-Eleme Junction road has increased exponentially, because of the boom in property development, growing population and growth in commercial and social activities.

The road is important for people who live, work or own businesses in Etche-Aba Road, Ebele 4 (Shell Location) and others, especially those who work in the Oyigbo (Obigbo) and environs. It is also an artery to communities, such as Chokocho, Eneka and Igwuruta in Rivers, to Ngor-Okpalla in Imo and Aba in Abia states.

The Intels Logistics Company in Onne, Port Harcourt Refinery and Indorama-Eleme Petrochemical Company are major employers of labour. These companies also attract several services companies and their workforces. The members of staff of these companies are constantly in need of affordable accommodations. This class of Nigerians has over time found Igbo-Etche and environs very attractive.

Property developers also find the area attractive because plots of land are relatively cheaper than other developed towns close to the Port Harcourt metropolis.

The worsening state of the road is, therefore, a source of worry for these Nigerians, who now spend more money and waste longer hours to get to work every day and back home in every evening.

Since the ongoing reconstruction of the Obigbo junction area of Port Harcourt-Aba-Enugu expressway, Igbo-Etche road has become very attractive for travellers who use it as a detour to avoid an equally very bad portion of the road around Oyigbo.

 

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