By Ugochukwu Alaribe
BUSINESS owners along Port Harcourt Road, Aba, Abia State, have sent a save our soul message to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to rehabilitate the road to end the suffering they have been subjected to.
Ikpeazu had on May 5, 2017, flagged off the rehabilitation of the 11 kilometre Port Harcourt road, during a ceremony witnessed by his Ebonyi State counterpart, Chief Dave Umahi, in Aba.
The governor announced that contract for the rehabilitation works, which will include a six-lane road has been awarded to Setraco Construction Company. But three months after the flag off, rehabilitation work is yet to commence as Setraco has not moved to site.
Port Harcourt road, which is one of the two major entry points into the commercial city of Aba from the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, had been in a deplorable condition for over 10 years when motorists stopped plying the road. Even heavy duty trucks no longer ply the road due to deep gullies and craters covered with weeds on the dual carriageway.
The worst parts of the road are the Uratta and Ohabiam/Coca Cola junctions, which have been overgrown with weeds. Buses and tricycle (keke) operators convey commuters to Uratta junction where they disembark and cross over to board other vehicles which would take them to the fly over junction on the expressway.
In an interview with South East Voice, a dealer on electrical materials and machine tools in the area, Charles Onyeaku, lamented that many business men and women had been forced to close shops due to the dilapidated condition of road and other adjoining streets.
“Port Harcourt road is the area which host fabricators of machine tools, electrical materials and heavy duty equipment. In fact, Port Harcourt road is the home of the construction industry in Eastern Nigeria.
“Many construction equipment and parts of heavy duty trucks are fabricated here. But now, there is no access to Port Harcourt road; you can’t easily access the adjoining streets and this has affected our businesses because our customers can no longer patronize us due to the poor condition of the road,” Onyeaku said.
A cross section of technicians including Clifford Ikechi and Goodluck Nwanguma who also spoke to South East Voice said they were dismayed that the state government could not fulfill its pledge to commence rehabilitation work on the road before the rains set in. They appealed to the governor to rehabilitate the road to save their businesses which are gradually folding up due to lack of patronage.
However, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, said that actual work on the road would start next month. Okezie said contract had been awarded for the construction of Port Harcourt, Ngwa, Osusu, Omuma and Uratta roads with preliminary works already concluded.
“The new Port Harcourt road is expected to be a six lane road with a dedicated BRT lane and actual earth moving works is expected to commence this October on the road,” he added.