By Dennis Agbo & Chinedu Adonu
ENUGU-AS Christmas and New Year celebrations approach, the very bad roads in the South East region are grabbing the attention of both the executive and the National Assembly. The yuletide is usually a season of mass exodus to the south east and roads play a vital role in the socio-economic life of the people of the region. Whereas the executive arm of the Federal Government had taken steps to address state of the roads in the zone and particularly the Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Port Harcourt roads, the National Assembly through the House of Representatives Committtee on Works has also waded in to ensure that the people of the zone celebrate the yuletide with somewhat ease.
Contractors are working on different sections of the roads but the legislature in its oversight function is compelling the executive to expedite work on them.Inspecting the projects in the zone last week, Hon. Anayo Nebe representing Awka North/South Federal constituency was furious, because according to him , federal roads in other geopolitical zones of the country were funded directly by the Federal Government but South East roads were handed over to Public- Private Partnership. He wondered if South East was not part of Nigeria. “What we are saying is that Federal Government should handle South East roads directly and fully fund them”, Nebe said.
Nebe noted that contractors ”don’t prime the roads after stone base and you cannot determine the pressure of traffic on the roads without priming. Look at how the stone base is scattered everywhere and nothing is done about it” On the progress of work at the 2nd Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Nebe said “We commend the Federal Government for awarding 2nd Niger Bridge contract but it should come up with a funding plan to hasten the work. The bridge is a gate way to South East, South west and the North. The whole country would benefit from the bridge if completed.”
At the 15-kilometer Enugu-9th mile section of Enugu-Onitsha road, contractors told the House Committee on Works that they were trying to properly channel the water from the Ekule river bridge, behind 82 Division of Nigerian Army. At Ugwu Onyeama, Ngwo, Enugu-Onitsha expressway, Committee Chairman, Okechukwu urged the contractor to make sure he constructs a drainage on the road and make it accessible before Christmas. On 9th mile-Orokam (Benue State) axis, the committee advised the contractor to do priming after stone base to determine the pressure of traffic on the road and expedite work.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Works, Hon Toby Okechukwu urged the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Finance to fund the 72- km road, stating that the road links Northern Nigeria to the East and would be of great benefit to the country.At Oji River-Ugwuoba axis, where the expressway has been severed Okechukwu blamed the Federal Ministry of Works Enugu for allowing such damage to occur. He said the controller is in the position to make the expressway accessible, adding that contract for the road had been awarded for years but without action. At Amawbia-Umunya axis in Anambra State, Okechukwu told the contractor to make sure that the road became motorable before Christmas to ensure safety and ease of movement .