Reporter : AMECHI ODO

Over the years, poor condition of rural roads has been the bane of agricultural development in Nigeria as many farmers are hindered from transporting their produce to the cities for sale.

This is the situation in Nkalaha, one of the host communities of NIGERCEM, the moribund premier cement industry that was at the centre of economic development in Eastern Nigeria

Nkalaha Community with a population of about ten thousand people, who are predominantly farmers, are going through untold hardship due to deplorable condition of their road.

To visit Nkalaha, one will have to go through Egedegede Junction on Nkalagu-Ehamufu road where the person will pack his vehicle and enter a commercial motorcycle popularly known as Okada, which is the only means of transportation to the area.

Due to the poor nature of the road, okada operators collect five hundred to one thousand Naira to convey passenger on the mucky road that is about five kilometres with the passenger sometimes asked to walk some distance to save the motorcycle from being stuck in the mud.

The people appealed for urgent government attention to the road to enable them to harness agricultural potential of the area and ease their movement.

“This road is too bad so we need a help from the government, people are suffering from the road too much, we need help,’’ one of the road users who did not want her name mentioned appealed.

Two farmers, Mr. James Ora and Mrs. Precious Eze, said the nature of the road had discouraged dealers in farm produce from visiting their local Orie Market for business, especially during rainy season.

‘’We suffer it so much to the extent that we cannot transfer our goods outside.

 “Look at the machine everywhere is suffering, there is no movement at all,’’ the farmers lamented.

Investigations reveal that as a result of the situation, some corpses of loved ones, whose deaths occurred outside the community, have been lying in the mortuary for months as there is no road for ambulances to bring them back home.

Mr. Vincent Ogbu and Comrade Fexinary Okeaga shared their experiences of bringing back corpses for burial.

‘’And if you try make a mistake of bringing any corpse here, it means from Egedegede you must bring the corpse here on head or Okada.

“Due to the terrain of our area we cannot bring coprse.’’

To solve the problem of the bad road, the Ebonyi State Government released ten million naira to the people through Ebonyi Community and Social Development Agency while the Federal Government through the River Basin Authority awarded a contract to construct a bridge at Ora River that could also connect the area with the rest of the state.

A visit to the construction site at Ora river however showed that the bridge had been abandoned as equipment and materials kept for the project were overgrown by weeds.

The Traditional Ruler of the Community, Ezeogo Augustine Okwo expressed unhappiness that the state of the bridge project had compounded the people’s problems.

‘’They were sluggish in their work. Our man attracted that road but up till now it has not been completed, the same thing to Egedegede, they gave us ten million Naira, they built three culverts and graded the road and it got worsened,’’ Ezeogo Okwo cried out.

When contacted, the State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ogbonnaya Obasi said the Ministry would send a team to inspect the road to ascertain how to carryout palliative work on it after the rainy season.

‘’Such palliative work is usually difficult in a rainy season like this but i will send some people to look at it,’’ the Commissioner assured.

His counterpart in charge of Business Development, who is from Nkalaha  Community, Dr. Steven Odo, emphasised that the ten million Naira intervention by the state government’s Agency was not only for the construction of the road but market stalls and public toilets. He called for community effort to attend to bad spots pending another intervention by either the state or Federal Government.