By Dennis Agbo
A common feature of the 2020 Christmas celebration in the South East was massive traffic hold ups, particularly along federal highways such as in Enugu-Ontisha expressway and Enugu-Port Harcourt road.
Our correspondent who monitored the state of the roads was caught up in the traffic for several hours at the Enugu end of both federal highways on different dates.
Despite the bad state of the roads in several areas, nevertheless, motorists had no option but to ply them to get to their various destinations. Work is ongoing at one flank of the Enugu-Port Harcourt road where reconstruction of the road has lasted more than five years.
The Enugu-Ontisha road still remains an agony of a place despite the little palliative work that was done between Abakpa junction and new market just for the sake of Christmas.
The federal government had announced award of contract for reconstruction of the road but there has not been any sign of proper commencement of work on the road except for the Christmas emergency work where they filled some of the very deep potholes on the road.
An indigene of Ngwo, Mr. Alex Amujiorgu expressed disappointment in the federal government’s attitude on the 15 kilometers Enugu-9th mile section of the Enugu-Ontisha road, saying that the government was failing in their responsibility.
“They have done absolutely nothing on the road, they are joking. Even the New Market to Abakpa junction that they tried to repair, I did not understand what they did there and they can’t even take it up to 9th Mile. I am disappointed,” Amujiorgu said.
Mr. Nnamdi Ogbuke, who returned from Abuja, said that the road into the south east was okay, but that the Nsukka-9th Mile section of the Enugu-Markudi road still remained in bad state.
Ikechukwu Simon who returned to Enugu from Owerri lamented the terrible state of the Okigwe-Owerri road but said that the Imo state government has mobilized a contractor to the site despite the fact that it is a federal road.
“The road from Okigwe to Enugu is scary because you drive on a one-way lane. Contractor is on the road, doing one arm of the dual road. The Lokpanta axis is still a nightmare. Again, you experience traffic at four corners in Ozalla and at Ugwuaji because of the construction work going on that road,” said Simon.
Those who came from the Cross River and Abakaliki ends decried the congestion of Eke Obinagu, the NNPC depot in Enugu. They identified two main issues on the road to include unnecessary blockage of the road by hawkers that have overgrown the village market and the indiscipline of tanker drivers.
“My suggestion to Enugu state government is that it should completely remove the Eke-Obinagu market along the Enugu-Abakaliki road and relocate it inside the village and dualize the road from the airport flyover to Idodo. This dualization is what they should also do at Nike lake road because going to Nsukka has become a nightmare,” advised Osondu Nwagbo.
Within Enugu state, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is doing his best to create access roads, mostly in the hinterlands with the assistance of World Bank intervention through the Rural Access Mobility Project, RAMP.
However, most streets in the state capital are yet to receive attention of grading, let alone asphalt, most especially at the new layouts and satellite towns that are fast developing without corresponding infrastructural provision. The state government has essentially maintained already built city roads through frequent patching, while some of the uncompleted road projects by the past administration, such as the Ugbene II and surrounding roads are abandoned and have worsened in dilapidation.
Essentially, the state roads that deserve immediate attention are located in Nike communities where residential developments are at fast pace same as in Trans-Ekulu and Emene, all in Enugu-East local government area. There are other areas in Enugu metropolis that are fast turning into slums such as at Ikiriki, Achara layout and Ugwuaji in Enugu South local government. Inside Trans Ekulu Estate remains a nightmare without government presence for more than 20 years. Chimaroke Nnamani ignored them for eight years. Sullivan Chime worked on the road leading to the estate but avoided inside the large estate. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has not paid any attention to the place and the residents are wailing as their roads are no longer motorable.
The local government administrations which in the past supported the state government in doing some hinterland roads are no longer doing so. The council chiefs complained about paucity of funds since the advent of the federal government bailout economic policy that replaced excess crude revenues.
One of the abandoned federal roads in Enugu state is the Nkalagu-Nsukka-Onitsha road. The road has had several interventions in the past but work was never completed on any section of the road. The worst aspect of the road is between Ikem and Eha-Amufu. While Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi did some kilometers from Eha-Amufu to the Ebonyi state boundary, Governor Dave Umahi did two major bridges on the road with Concrete road construction from the Enugu boundary to Nkalagu junction of Enugu-Abakaliki road.
Other federal roads in the state that lack attention include Oji- Awgu road, Agbani- Amagunze- Ezeagu road, Agbani-Nara-Isu road, 9th mile- Opi- Nsukka old road, Nsukka-Enugu Ezike- Kogi state road, among others.