BY PETER DURU, MAKURDI
The Traditional ruler of Ugboju district in Otukpo local government area, Chief Solomon Apochi, and his counterpart in Onyagede in Ohimini local government area, Chief Ogili Adamu have appealed the Federal government to effect urgent repairs on the Otukpo-Ugboju-Onyagede-Ankpa federal road in order to check the security and economic challenges confronting their subjects.
They lamented that the 47 kilometer road which connects the northern part of the country to the entire south, through Ankpa in kogi state, was last rehabilitated in 1991, when President Muhammadu Buhari was the Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).
Speaking on the condition of the road, yesterday, the royal fathers said the deplorable state of the road had reached alarming state stressing that the people had waited for too long for the Federal government’s intervention.
They lamented that the entire communities on the axis had been cut off from neighbouring towns and cities since the road became impassable over the years, which had adversely affected economic and commercial activities of the people who were predominantly commercial farmers.
According to Chief Apochi “my people have been subjected to long sufferings since this road went this bad several years ago.
“The impression here is that our people have been abandoned and left to our fate because despite repeated appeals nothing has been done by the federal government to ameliorate our sufferings.
“That is the more reason why we the traditional heads are making this passionate appeal to the authorities to come to our aid before we are completely cut off from the entire world.”
On his part, Chief Adamu noted that the state of the road had killed the business of the rural dwellers on the axis of the road who were known for their massive product of garri in commercial quantity.
“Apart from the adverse effect the condition of the road is having on the business of my people we are also faced with the issue of security because it has become difficult for security agencies to come to our aid whenever we have any security issue in our communities.
“We are the largest producers of garri in this part of the country and every market day, over 50 trucks queue up here to load garri to the north, the east and the west, but today which is a market day the turnout and patronage is abysmally low because farmers can no longer access the market with their goods.
“That is why we are appealing to the Federal government to urgently Intervene to save us from the harrowing experience.”
Also speaking, the lawmaker representing Adoka/Ugboju state constituency at the Benue House of Assembly, Mr. Adam Okloho, said the sorry state of the road had also forced intending investors to abandon their intentions to invest in communities along the axis.
Okloho stressed that, “it is only trucks of a cement plant in the state that are seen daily in their large numbers, conveying coals from the Onyagede axis to their factory.”
The lawmaker regretted that the trucks were largely responsible for the current state of the road and wondered why the owners of the cement factory did not deem it fit to fix the road by way of corporate social responsibility.
Others who spoke to Vanguard on the matter including market women and commercial motorcycle operators, lamented the present state of the road, describing it as a “death trap and den of robbers.”
According to Mrs. Jane Oche, “everyday the few people that ply this road are always robbed because their vehicles move at snail speed which makes them easy targets.
“Apart from the cases of robbery our businesses have all died because the travellers who used to patronize us the most have all abandoned this axis because of the condition of the road which used to be very busy.”
She however expressed confidence that President Buhari would harken to their cries, saying, “he did it for us as PTF chairman and now that he is in charge of the country, we are hopeful he would come to their aid.”
Also speaking on the matter, a commercial motorcycle operator, John Adah said the people of the area collectively resolved to vote Buhari in 2015, stressing that, “it was only this constituency that delivered massively for Buhari and his party in the entire Benue South so why has the federal government abandoned us.”
Vanguard gathered that the House of Representatives, through a motion moved by member representing Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituency, Mr. Ezekiel Adaji, on August 2nd. 2017 had passed a resolution mandating the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, to include the road in the 2018 budget proposal.
It was also gathered reliably that, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Raji Fashola had given approval for the reconstruction of the road, following a letter of complaint by a Journalist, Nats Onoja Agbo early last year but despite that, nothing has been done on the road till date.