By Louis Amoke
The recent decisions by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration to restore the Enugu urban master-plan, construct pedestrian bridges and overlay major roads in the city, among other interventions, are not only bold initiatives but also positive steps towards reinvigorating and upgrading the state capital for socio-economic expansion.
These actions demonstrate the governor’s political will to advance good governance and further enhance the development structure of Enugu City, to sustain its enviable status as the historical capital of Eastern Nigeria, East Central State, old Anambra and Enugu State and the capital of the present Enugu State.
The initiatives which were part of the outcome of the maiden meeting of the newly-inaugurated State Executive Council have set a new agenda for rapid development in line with the governance strategy of the state government towards ensuring that Enugu continues to be rated as one of the oldest and finest state capitals in the country.
Undoubtedly, the new policy direction is deeply heartwarming, especially to the urban inhabitants, considering the fact that the state government, through its rural development policy, in the last four years, had concentrated massive development more in the rural areas than in urban centres.
The grassroots development programme of the Ugwuanyi administration, was a deliberate strategy to break the barrier of development imbalance that had existed between the urban and rural dwellers in order to create more urban centres for socio-economic expansion as well as give the larger population of the state a sense of belonging.
It would be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi, in his first term’s inaugural address, stated that his administration would “pay a special attention to rural development because majority of our people live in the rural areas”. He added that the state government will create more urban areas to boost economic growth.
In keeping with this sound vision, Ugwuanyi’s administration, in the past four years, through its grassroots development initiatives, executed massive development projects which were concentrated largely in the rural areas, remembering long neglected communities, such Amurri, Eha-Amufu, Uzo-Uwani, among others.
For instance, prior to Ugwuanyi’s administration, 13 out of 16 wards in Uzo-Uwani LGA could not access their council headquarters in Umuluokpa because of bad road. The federal road connecting Enugu and Ebonyi State, through Eha Amufu, in Isi-Uzo LGA, was neglected for over 36 years, until it was recently rehabilitated to standard by the Ugwuanyi administration. Today, the people of Amurri in Nkanu West LGA await the commencement of the second phase of their road, after the Ugwuanyi administration constructed the first phase for a community that has never experienced any form of development on its land in the past 100 years.
The rural development strategy such as the “One Community, One Project” scheme also ensured that every community had one project or another according to their priority. Out of about 550 kilometers of roads covered so far in the state, over 65 percent was executed in the rural areas.
For the majority of the rural dwellers, especially those who had not seen asphalted roads or other development projects in their communities until the enthronement of the present administration, it was indeed a dream come true as they do not only enjoy good road network today which has reconnected them to larger society for socio-economic growth, they also have access to other government facilities that make life more meaningful.
The outcome of the maiden council meeting which centered government’s development attention on Enugu City, coupled with the inauguration of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) for the restoration of the Enugu urban master-plan, therefore reinvigorated the governor’s steadfastness to strike a balance and give the state capital the facelift it deserves to compete favorably among its contemporaries.
Recall that the Ugwuanyi administration has taken measures to sustain the glory of Enugu City, through reconstruction and maintenance of urban roads and other facilities; engagement of 1000 youths (additional 1,000 underway) to clean up the state; rehabilitation of historical government structures such as the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, State House of Assembly Complex, Zik’s Residence, as well as the ongoing completion of the Enugu International Conference Centre, among others.
On the planned overlay of major roads in Enugu City, constructed by past administrations, which entails the application of hot rolled asphaltic wearing course on the existing ones with other technical considerations, the aim is to increase the durability of the roads to last for a longer time and serve the public better.
The comprehensive maintenance is comparatively cheap, considering the enormous resources being spent yearly by the present administration to repair potholes being created on the roads every rainy season as a result of persistent rains. The planned overlay, therefore, will also beautify the roads and add value to the aesthetic of the state capital as a modern city founded over a century ago.
The State Commissioner for Information, Nnanyelugo Chidi Aroh, while briefing newsmen on the said overlay, alongside the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Greg Nnaji, stated that the project was in addition to the ongoing repairs of identified potholes in Enugu urban and intercity roads.
Speaking further, the Information commissioner disclosed that the approved construction of three pedestrian bridges in Enugu urban to be located at Ogbete Main Market, Enugu, by Holy Ghost Cathedral, Garki Awkunanaw and Mayor Bus-stop by Agbani Road, was to ensure safety of pedestrians, free traffic and orderliness.
Inaugurating the 14-man Enugu Master-plan Enforcement Authority, headed by his former Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties, Dr. Josef Umunnakwe Onoh as the Executive Chairman, Gov. Ugwuanyi directed them to immediately commence enforcement of full development control in Enugu Capital Territory, in line with “relevant extant laws and the need for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem balance.”
Gov. Ugwuanyi disclosed that the enforcement authority “was constituted in line with a deliberate choice of the state government to enhance the glory of Enugu as the former capital of Eastern Nigeria, East Central State, old Anambra and Enugu State as well as the present Enugu State”.
The governor maintained that Enugu deserves an enhanced serene ambience to be able to offer the full compliments of urban triangle; a place to live, work and play.
He also pointed out that the serenity of Enugu City is one of the state’s greatest assets that must be jealously guarded, directing members of the enforcement body that “you must therefore halt and begin to reverse the contraptions of building approvals pervading Enugu Capital Territory”.
According to him, “Enugu Capital Territory must sustain its ranking as a destination of choice in real estate investment. We expect nothing less from you.
“I must emphasize, as always, that your loyalty as public officers should be to God and the state. You must at all times be seen to pursue honesty, transparency, accountability, equity, justice, fairness and unalloyed commitment to your duty in the course of your service to this state.