By Ogbonnaya Ikokwu
Poor maintenance of public infrastructure has been one a bane of development in Nigeria. A tour across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja will reveal many schools, hospitals, stadiums, court buildings and roads in deplorable conditions.
Also doting the country land scape are many projects initiated by successive administrations which were abandoned over the years.
Politicians had always treated projects initiated by their predecessors with levity. Rather than completing them, they would prefer to award new ones in the guise of coming with new ideas.
This attests to why building of new classroom blocks in public schools receives more attention than renovating existing ones and investing in manpower cum teaching aids. The reasons for such self-serving approach to development is not far-fetched. It is a common knowledge that many of those in the corridors of power see it as an opportunity to acquire wealth, therefore, awarding fresh contracts will always afford them the opportunity to enrich themselves.
Given that the above referenced approach encourages waste of scarce resources, it is pertinent that state governments must prioritize the maintenance of moribund
public infrastructure to meet the needs of its citizenry.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government recently announced its resolve to terminate some abandoned projects inherited from previous governments that had no clear source of funding.
The Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, had made the decision known in Abuja during an interaction with journalists after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu.
Umahi, however, added that the president approved some road projects and plans to toll some roads in the country in line with a renewed approach to provision of quality roads across the country.
It is obvious that the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, came to power with the mindset that public infrastructure in bad shapes should receive urgent attention that would reposition them for the good of the people.
Consequently, he has vowed to upgrade public health facilities in the three senatorial zones of the state.
Some hospitals selected for an emergency reroofing are currently undergoing renovation, while two already renovated including, the Abia Specialist Hospital, Umuahia and the Amachara General Hospital, have been re-opened for public use.
Speaking during the re-opening, the governor said that the Amachara General Hospital, which was first opened in 1932, was already dilapidated.
He also said that government invested huge sums of money to fix the structures and entered into strategic partnership for the servicing and maintenance of the equipment to keep them functional.
Otti also warned those who break into government facilities to cart away items and equipment meant for public use to refrain from such criminal acts.
He charged government workers as well as the traditional rulers to take full responsibility for the protection of public facilities.
The state Chief Executive also vowed that government facilities in the state would never be in a dilapidated state under his watch.
Also, it is worthy of note that serious attention is being paid to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads in Aba and Umuahia, respectively.
The zero pothole initiative of the state government has helped revamp many roads which were hitherto impassable.Three reconstructed roads in Aba have been inaugurated, while others that have been completed will soon be inau..
The urban renewal agenda of the state government took a different dimension with the lunch of expansion of 3.5-km Okpara Square-Ossah -Express Tower Road from four lanes to six lanes on September 27.
The road, which is the major entry point to Umuahia, the capital city, did not receive any serious attention from previous administrations, despite the traffic jam usually suffered by road users during festive periods.
The governor said that the decision to expand the road to six lanes was to unlock the economic potentials of Umuahia as well as open up the city to greater economic opportunities.
He maintained that the payment of
compensation to the owners of the 130 structures marked for demolition on the road had commenced, adding that all the money required was fully provided.
He was optimistic that a quality six-lane road project would be delivered by the Craneburg Construction Company, being a reputable construction giant, with standard drains, walkways and solar-powered street lights.
He also disclosed that the Imo River – Umuikaa-Obikabia-Umuene – Ukaegbu Road to Aba town, linking Ikot Ekpene, would soon be flagged off to serve as alternative route to Akwa Ibom State.
The governor said that the road, when completed, would enable a traveller to enter Akwa Ibom without passing through Aba, thereby decongesting traffic in the commercial city.
The genuine applaud the Labour Party led-government is receiving from the residents shows that Gov. Otti feels the pulse of the people and is poised at changing the narrative.
Abia residents are, therefore, encouraged to support the government’s efforts at reviving the ailing infrastructure by refraining from any acts of sabotage against them.
The managers of general hospitals and other public health institutions should maintain them with the utmost precision. Faulty equipment should be repaired when necessary, with new ones procured when the need arises.
Gov. Otti deserves commendation for the urgent steps he has taken so far to revamp poor health facilities and deplorable roads in the state.
# A New Abia is possible.
Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Umuahia.