By Vincent Ujumadu
The Amansea portion of the Enugu –Onitsha expressway has been turned into money-making spot as scores of youths assemble there every day to push vehicles stuck in the mud for negotiated fees on the dilapidated road. Drivers are also bemoaning their fate as their vehicles could sometimes remain in the mud for days as towing vehicles can hardly access the area.
The portion, which has become a death trap despite promises made in the past that it would be reconstructed as part of the ongoing work from Onitsha to Enugu, has become a nightmare to motorists and passengers.
The development has put so much pressure on the old Onitsha –Enugu road with the attendant traffic gridlock witnessed on daily basis.
Although work is still ongoing at the Umunya –Awka end of the expressway, the Amansea end has suffered total neglect and with the rainy season, no attempt has been made to rehabilitate it.
Many vehicles, particularly trucks, have had to remain in the mud for days as the drivers and owners of goods being conveyed by the drivers suffer economic losses.
Some of the youths say they make as much as N15,000 daily from pushing vehicles and evacuating goods from vehicles stuck in the mud.
One of the youths, Mr. Ikenna Obidiaso, who said he is an apprentice mechanic, told South-East Voice that he had to abandon the mechanic work when he discovered that pushing vehicles out of mud could fetch him so much money.
He said: “I come to this spot everyday and wait for unfortunate vehicles that would get stuck, which is certain that some must get into the mud. Once that happens, my colleagues and I approach the driver for negotiation and the fees range between N5000 and N10000 for a vehicle.
“If the lorry is carrying goods, it attracts additional charge because we will first offload all the goods and put them at a safe place before pushing the vehicle out. We remain on this spot throughout the night as that is when the lorries are usually on the road.”
“For small buses, we direct them on the right places to follow so as not to get stuck and once the vehicle comes out of the mud, we collect N1000 to N2000.”
One of the drivers, Mallam Isa Aminu, whose lorry had been trapped in the mud for three days said he is praying that there would not be further rainfall in the next few to so that the area could dry to enable him drive out.
He said that he could not afford the amount of money being demanded by the youths and urged government to come to the aid of the drivers by making the area a priority in the ongoing reconstruction of the Onitsha –Enugu expressway.