By Samuel Oyadongha
Work on the rehabilitation and dualization of East -West Road which links Edo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River States began a few years ago. But despite the importance of this strategic road which bears the whole burden of oil exploration in the country, the reconstruction work is going on at a snail’s pace. Commuters who ply the ever-busy road literally go through hell on daily basis as they are forced to remain in the traffic gridlock for endless number of hours. In fact, the section of the road around Okosi bridge is at the verge of being lost to the River.
Worried by this development, a youth leader in the Niger Delta, Dr.Chris Ekiyor has called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the rehabilitation and dualisation of the ailing road.
Dr. Ekiyor, a former President of the Ijaw Youth Council, who is currently the Transition Committee Chairman of the Patani Local Government Area in Delta State said the people of the region were eagerly awaiting the completion of the strategic road connecting states in the Niger Delta together.
People from the region, he said, are expecting President Goodluck Jonathan, who incidentally is from the region to complete the road before the expiration of his present tenure.
The Ijaw leader charged the government to compel the contractor to expedite action on the construction so as to deliver the eight-lane expressway road with. Dr. Ekiyor said the new year has presented new opportunities for the government to make appropriate budgetary provision for the road and called on the President to tackle the security challenges facing the country in the new year.
“As a government, the President and his cabinet should look in wards to address the state of our national security. Also, the state of infrastructure should be given top priority. Again, the East West road project, every Nigerians and the Niger Delta people feel that if nothing at all is done by this administration, the East West road should be completed. I am afraid, the slow pace of the job is giving all of us serious concern”, Ekiyor said.
Meanwhile, the member representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Andrew Uchendu has charged the Federal Government to give special attention to the repair and construction of Federal roads this year.
The legislator said he is highly disturbed by the deplorable state of the East West road. According to him, it was painful that a major road as the East West road that bears the burden of oil exploration in the country could be allowed to remain in the deplorable state.
The former Chairman of the South South caucus of the Federal House of Representatives said President Goodluck Jonathan should as a mark of responsibility address the problem of poor roads in the country. He specifically called for urgent attention be give to the East West road.
“I am from the Niger Delta region representing the Ikwerre people. I am weeping, and I have said so on the floor of the House. If there is any offence my people have committed that is responsible for the treatment we should be forgiven. The road is impassable. This is the road that bears the whole burden of oil exploration in the country. Mr President owes the people of the country a duty to repair the roads and in particular this East West road”. Continuing, he said the federal government should declare the road an emergency.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly, he said those opposed to its passage should come to the Niger Delta region to better appreciate what the region suffers from oil exploration.
While expressing firm support for the bill, Hon Uchendu said the bill when passed into law would help restructure the petroleum sector for the overall benefit of the country.