Reporter: CHIKA EWURUM
The people of Ogbaku and Ubomiri Communities in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State have expressed worry about the abandonment of road construction in their communities.
The road contract is intended to link Ubomiri Community and Ogbaku on the Owerri Onitsha Expressway while connecting Ogbaku with the Owerri Orlu Road at Ubomiri.
Following years of long neglect and near absence of government projects in Ogbaku and Ubomiri communities in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, the people were elated on noticing the mobilization of construction facilities to their areas.
However, the people are now in a state of day dreaming as the construction equipment have all disappeared into the thin air.
The road, which will connect Onitsha-Owerri road at Ogbaku end and also terminate at Ubomiri linking Orlu-Owerri road at the other end will on completion ease the pressure of vehicular traffic on Onitsha-Owerri road.
The road contract was awarded to L&D construction company through Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) under the World Bank Assisted project with the state contributing a counter part fund.
The construction company started on a good note until early this year when work on the road project was halted.
Regrettably, the excitement of the people have turned to sorrow as the people of the communities noticed that the work had been abandoned.
When Radio Nigeria visited the Nsokpo Community of the Ogbaku axis, there were heaps of sand, which had blocked the road and created water logs on some portions of the road making it impassable.
In an interview with an indigene of the community and retired Media Chief Executive, Chief Chika Emerenwa, he lamented that he had been locked up in his compound for months as a result of demolition of the entrance to his premises.
“They cleared the front of my house, they dug hole there in the name of drainage and left it. You can’t drive into my compound and I can’t drive out. Even those of us with health issues, i can’t even go to see my doctor and take treatment. I’ve been locked in since eight months now. The contractor disappeared, nobody knows where they are, that’s how bad it is,” he stated bitterly.
Chief Emerenwa emphasised that the contractor had left the road worst than he met it and called on the state government to recall the L&D contractor to site.
The story was not different in Umuohiagu Ohum in Amawuihe Autonomous community in Ubomiri where the President General of the Community, Chief Emmanuel Duru, expressed dissatisfaction that the entire road was no longer accessible at the moment.
According to him, after the grading and bulldozing of the earmarked portion, they never saw the contractor again in their community.
“How can they abandon the road after they might have damaged our crops and erosion taken over this place. This is the only link road between Ogbaku and Ubomiri. For us to go to Ogbaku, we have to go through Owerri North, Owerri West before coming to Ogbaku, which ordinarily is not upto 3 kilometers from my place here,” the President General cried out.
Chief Duru said the community had written to RAMP and the contractor without positive response.
In a telephone interview with L&D contractor, the engineer, who identified himself as P.O.K Logistics, said they stopped work because of design problem from the state government and the rain.
In another interview with the Imo State Coordinator for RAMP, Mr. Basil Nwaogwugwu, who invited Radio Nigeria Correspondent to his office in Owerri after cutting off a telephone interview, ended up frustrating the effort of the correspondent.
Rather than respond to the question thrown to him, he chose to use his Chief security officer and his procurement staff to interrupt the interview and avoided all questions he was asked.
He maintained that the people affected had not complained and question the audacity of the reporter to ask questions on that particularly road.
Hear him as he queries reason for asking about the Ubomiri road project:
“There are many roads we are building across the state, you’re particularizing only on Ubomiri. Do you know many roads we are doing and how many that have not been working for now?”
Meanwhile, Imo State Commissioner for Works, Chief Ralph Nwosu, in affirming that the project had been abandoned said it was a Federal Government and World Bank Assisted project.
“If it’s RAMP or NEWMAP or something, we are not in control of them, it’s not state government project,” the Commissioner stated.