Reporter : CHIKA EWURUM
Drivers and passengers as well as some communities in Imo State have called on both State and the Federal Governments to remedy the deplorable state of the Onitsha-Owerri Expressway.
According to them, the bad state of some portions the road has brought untold hardship for years.
Good roads make a crucial contribution to economic development, growth and social benefits of a state and country.
Also, a country’s industrial and employment base is closely tied to the quality of it’s transportation system.
This cannot be said of the people of Ogbaku in Mbaitoli Local Government Area, Irete in Owerri West Local Government Area and Mgbidi in Oru West Local Government Area, all in Imo State.
The people of these communities have different experiences concerning the condition of Onitsha-Owerri dual carriage way linking these communities.
Most residents and road users described their experiences as at the bad portions of the road as a nightmare.
Speaking with Radio Nigeria correspondent who visited the the Irete spot, one of the community leaders, Mr. Emma Ogbonna, said the condition of the road had forced drivers to ply one way, which had caused accident and many lives lost by reckless drivers.
Mr. Ogbonna noted that several attempts had been made to repair the road but to no avail as according to him, most of the contractors had not been able to tackle the road challenges.
“Each time one contractor or the other will come there to perform without success, each time they do shabby work, but this time around they’re making gutter that will carry water away from the spot because it’s exactly what spoil the road everytime.
“What I discovered is that the area that gutter passed, they are using laterite to fill up the gap between the tarred road and the gutter they have made,” Mr. Ogbonna stated.
An indigene of Ogbaku who is a regular user of the road, Mazi Nathi Iwuagwu, described the Irete spot as an unmitigated permanent site for accidents as he recalled that there had been series of fatal accidents on that spot.
Mazi Iwuagwu narrated his ordeal on the road, hear him:
“I was a victim just last week Friday, my car fell into a ditch there, hit another car and swerved to the road divider (Kerb/curb) and created a considerable damage not only to my body but to the vehicle itself. Mine is just one in a lot,” he cried out.
Mazi Iwuagwu called on the Federal Ministry of Works and the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to ensure proper and lasting solution to the spot, noting that the road served as a route to other South-East and South-South travellers.
Also an indigene of Mgbidi in Oru West Local Government Area, Mr. Pius Odinu, said the Mgbidi bad spot had crippled economic activities in the area as some traders and farmers could not convey their goods to market since the road has defiled any form of vehicular movement, including motor cycle.
Commercial bus drivers and passengers also expressed their regrets and inconveniences the bad spots had caused them.
“Irete first bus-stop, I am telling you, it a death trap. We have been collecting #500 to Onitsha from passengers but because of the bad road we are collecting #800 & #1000,” a driver complained.
“We spent one hour to leave the bad spot,” a passenger lamented.
They called on the Federal and state governments to come to their rescue and avert more loss of lives and property on the road.
However, in a telephone interview with the Engineer in charge of FERMA in IMO State, Mr. Emeka Maduagwu, he explained the efforts the Agency had made to solve the road problem.
“Irete, we are doing a channel now, a big drain is ongoing, by the time we finish the drain we now fix the bad portion again, hoping that that solves the problem.
“Mgbidi, the outlet, they’re blocking it. We have done Mgbidi severally, they’re blocking the outlet where water should go,” the FERMA engineer pointed out.
Mr. Maduagwu expressed regret that the communities had refused to make provision for channelling of flood.