By Ogbonnaya Ikokwu
Investment in road infrastructure arguably guarantees a long time plan for growth.
In a developing country like Nigeria, road construction is key to the infrastructure agenda of both the Federal and various state governments; consequently the provision of solid roads has remained a recurrent campaign promise.
A good road network is very germane in the country given its vast landmass and rural-urban settlement nature. This is why road construction falls within the exclusive and concurrent list in the country.
While some states can boast of good road network, many others are still bedeviled with the problem of deplorable roads.
Abia State is one of the states with poor road infrastructure in Nigeria. Many federal roads in the state are in a very sorry state, while others under the watch of the state government have nothing good to write home about.
The Minister for Works, Engr. Dave Umahi, had revealed that 11 federal roads were under construction in Abia during his inspection visit to the state. This accounts for the difficulty road users currently encounter while embarking on journeys within and outside the state.
The minister listed the roads to include section one of the Port Harcourt-Enugu Expressway, which runs from Lokpanta to Abia Tower in Umuahia.
He said the road is 100 per cent completed with a trailer park, and section two of the road runs from Umuahia Tower to Aba.
Also ongoing is the rehabilitation of Umuahia–Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene road of about 49.2km; a section of Nkporo-Abiriba-Ohafia Road, awarded in 2012, that has been abandoned; Bende-Arochukwu-Ohafia section one awarded in 2018; Aba-Owerri Road awarded in 2020 amongst others.
Gov. Alex Otti, having being around, understands the urgent need to construct and rehabilitate some roads in the state
to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
Aba, the economic hub of the state, is particularly of a great concern to the governor, he had vowed to prioritize the restoration of the city to its lost glory during his campaig for the 2023 general elections.
In less than 72 hours of his administration, Otti announced the appointment of 22 Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants, with
Mr Uche Ukeje, strategically appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Aba Rejuvenation.
The task before Ukeje is to make
the renewal and redevelopment of Aba popularly, known as the Japan of Africa, a top priority of the Otti’s administration.
Besides addressing the current infrastructure deficit of the Enyimba City, another job before the
Aba Rejuvenation team is to create a masterplan that will guide the development of the city for the next 30 years.
Other challenges expected to be addressed by Ukeje and his team include the lack of access roads into and within the city, indiscriminate location of markets and motor parks, the lack of adequate drains), ineffective waste management plan, the lack of potable water and insecurity.
Subsequently, working on briefs from the Aba Rejuvenation team after a one-month fact finding period, Otti on July 6, handed over nine roads for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation to different contractors.
The roads include University Road, Abayi, Green Avenue, Udeagbala Road and Shallom Road.
The rest were Umuimo Road, Old Express Road, Abak Road with adjoining streets, Queens Street and Jubilee Road.
Barely 72 days later, Aba residents have started reaping the fruit of the commitment of the Otti led-administration with the inauguration of three of the roads, namely Shalom Road, Cemetery Road Phase 1 and Emelogu Road.
The roads were built with double drains on either side and solar-powered street lights.
Speaking at the inauguration of the roads, Gov. Otti reassured Aba residents of his commiment to fulfilling all his campaign promises.
He revealed that he is investing in road infrastructure because good road network is a huge enabler of economic development.
The governor, who insisted that he would maintain the confidence the people reposed in him, added that he would develop Aba in line with his campaign promises.
He explained that Aba needs to be opened up with good infracstructure and enabling environment that would support the social-economic lives of the people, which his administration is committed to doing.
The Abia chief executive said that Cemetry Road has not been in used for over 20 years, adding that his government is committed to putting to an end, the activities of touts in the market.
He commended the residents and contractors for their support and solicited more support from all the stakeholders, saying that a “new Abia requires the participation of all and sundry”.
Gov Otti also disclosed that a water fountain would soon be fixed at the Emelogu Aound About.
In a remark, the Commissioner for Works, Engr. Don Oti, said giving adequate attention to road infrastructure is paramount to the Gov. Otti led-administration as revitalizing the road networks would enhance economic growth and development as well as ease off stress on the citizenry.
He called on the beneficiaries of the roads to reciprocate government’s gesture by taking responsibility of keeping the roads and drains free from refuse.
The commissioner further added
that soon, it would be a serious offence to drop refuse in the drains or to repair automobiles or display merchandise on the roads and disclosed that the necessary legislative framework to put that to force is being put in place
Other speaker at the inauguration including the President Aba Chamber of Çommerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture Chief Jerry Kalu, a resident of Emelogu Road, Mr Uche Okafor, among others lauded Gov. Otti for fixing the roads and assured him of the sustained support of the Aba community to his administration.
Besides six other roads undergoing reconstruction in the city the State Government through the ministry of works is currently carrying out palliative works on many roads within Umuahia, the state capital.
The governor’s directive to use the engineering corps of the ministry for road maintenance is gradually yielding positive results.
Similarly, the State Government, with the assistance of the World Bank under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project, is set to undertake the construction of 219 kilometers of roads in the state.
The proposed roads include the 19-kilometre Itungwa-Mgboko-Amairii, Amaise-Ahiabaubi-Nkwonwaelechi Omoba Road in Isiala Ngwa South LGA.
The Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu, had announced this while briefing journalists on the outcome of last week’s State Executive Council meeting presided over by Gov. Otti.
Prince Kanu emphasized the positive partnership between the Otti’s administration and international donor agencies and multi-national organizations, which has led to these projects.
The Commissioner also highlighted that the road projects were in addition to the five already completed roads in Aba, with street lights and water fountains which would soon be commissioned by the governor.
There is no gain saying that Gov. Otti is prepared for the job. His giant strides in just three months plus in office raises the hope that before the end of his first tenure in 2027, Abia would become a force to reckon with in terms of infrastructure development.
#A new Abia is possible!!!
Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, journalist and public affairs analyst writes from Umuahia