By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA -THERE was excitement in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State following the return to site of the contractor handling the Otuocha-Anam-Kogi federal road abandoned several years ago.
Before the project was abandoned in 2009, a whopping N2.5 billion was said to have been spent on the road with nothing to show for it.
However, following the efforts of the member representing Anambra East and West in the House of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye, who facilitated the release of funds to the contractor by the executive arm of government, work has resumed in earnest.
Nwoye, who inspected the project with officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and community leaders in the area said the National Assembly has approved N1.8 billion to be spent on the road this fiscal year, with assurance that funds would continue to be released to ensure that work would continue ceaselessly until it was completed.
When South-East Voice visited the area, the contractor, Nigercat Ltd, was working on a major bridge along the road. It is expected that when completed, journey from Anambra State to Abuja would be reduced to about three hours, instead of about seven hours which it presently takes from Anambra, through Enugu to Benue and then Kogi to Abuja.
Hon. Nwoye said he decided to make the road his constituency priority project because the people of the area, who are mainly farmers, were suffering so much as they often found it difficult to transport their produce to the cities at the end of every farming season due to bad roads.
Nwoye said: “This is not a political matter. It is something that is very dear to me because I remember the support the people of Anambra West gave me when I contested election.
“I have been meeting stakeholders to find a solution to the road as I am determined to ensure its completion and I am very happy that the contractors have moved to site.
“We inspected this road on December 7, 2017 with officials of the Federal Ministry of Works because I am very much worried about its condition. The people of this local government are the most marginalised in the state and I believe that opening up this road will help to boost the economy of the people of the area.
“Through my efforts, N800 million was approved in the 2017 budget and N1 billion in the 2018 budget for the road and by God’s grace, more money will be injected into the project once the N1.8 billion is exhausted.
“The assurance we have got is that funds will continue to be released on regular basis until the work is completed. Part of the reason I am determined to see this project through is that the people gave me maximum support even when one of their sons contested election with me.
“My happiness is that people of this area will be providing the materials needed by the contractors and this will help the affected families one way or the other.
“Once this road is completed, this area will open up to commercial activities. I commend the Minister of Works, the permanent secretary and the chairman of the works committee in the House of Representatives, Honourable Toby Okechukwu and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara for their support and efforts to see that the project is completed in record time.”
He urged the people of the local government to cooperate with the contractors so that it would be made motorable before the rains set in and appealed to the villagers not to inundate the contractors with unnecessary demands so that they could concentrate on the job.
He also urged the contractors to do quality job to justify the effort of the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Chief Emma Nnacho, a community leader in the area expressed gratitude to Nwoye saying: “We are grateful to you for ensuring that this road project finally takes off. We will ever remain grateful to you. A good representative is one who remembers his people. You have continued to empower the people despite the outcome of the November 18, 2017 governorship election.”
The traditional ruler of Ukwala, Igwe Joseph Ajodu recalled that after the presentation of the 2016 budget and the road was not reflected, the royal fathers in the area sent delegation to the Senator representing Anambra North, Princess Stella Oduah and Honourable Nwoye complaining about non- inclusion of the road in the budget and urged them to do something about it considering the importance of the road to the people of the area.
Igwe Ajodu said Nwoye promised that the road would be accommodated in the supplementary budget and expressed joy that he was able to facilitate the inclusion of the road in this year’s budget.
Chief Sylvester Okeke, President of Anam People’s Forum in his speech said: “We are not surprised at the achievements and projects you are attracting to our area. But we hope the road will not be abandoned. This is the only road we have requested government to complete for us.”