Over 5000 Anambra State residents under the auspices of Recover Nigeria Project in collaboration with Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka chapter and Zone B members of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), on Wednesday, staged a peaceful protest over the deplorable condition of Agu-Awka portion of Enugu/Onitsha expressway.
The protesters, who obstructed movement of motorists coming from Enugu State to Anambra for an hour, gave the federal and state governments 72 hours ultimatum to rehabilitate the failed road or face mass action.
According to them, the Agu-Awka portion of the federal government road which is also known as Eze-Uzu junction, had turned a deathtrap for claiming lives and properties on daily basis, including burning of people residence and business premises within the area whenever petrol tankers lost control.
Addressing the crowd, Comrade Osita Obi, the Coordinator of Recover Nigeria Project, said the peaceful demonstration was not meant to inflict more sufferings on road users but to call attention of the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, President Muhammadu Buhari, politicians and religious leaders to quickly rehabilitate the road within 72 days.
“I know that people will suffer but it is good they suffer now to rejoice tomorrow. This portion of road won’t take over 50 bags of cement, sands and stones to rehabilitate. We are doing this to attract government attention to this road immediately. Our government, politicians, senators and religious leaders don’t need to wait till people die or tanker burnt people beyond recognition before they will visit them at hospitals. We don’t want people to continue dying here. They should construct the road to avert wanton loss of lives and properties,” Obi submitted.
Speaking in an interview, Comrade Steve Uforah, Chairman of ASUU, Nnamdi Azikiwe University chapter, said they joined in the protests because is part of their social responsibility and decision to ensure justice and fairness to all, adding that their members and students pass through the road, and asked the government to show evidence of taxes they pay by constructing the road from Agu Awka to Amansea, boundary between Anambra and Enugu.
Also speaking, Mr Ikechukwu Okorie, a stakeholder of NANS, noted that last week Wednesday, a driver lost his ear while conveying students to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, even as students-passengers sustained degrees of injuries and currently recuperating at various hospitals.
On his part, Mr Kenneth Okeke, the Coordinator of NANS Zone B, while apologizing to road users over the hiccup, said they wanted to use the opportunity to correct anomaly which he described as a deathtrap since the road, according to him, has took lives of several students, passengers and bus drivers.
“We want the federal and state governments to send down FERMA, SEMA, and ministries of works to quickly put the road in good condition. We remember that last time the state governor quickly went to clear the hospital bills of passengers and rivers who sustained injuries on this road. We don’t want anyone to die here again; rather we want the government to channel those funds for the road rehabilitations. If not, we are going to mobilise more students for a total showdown on the road for days,” he hinted.
Responding, the Anambra State Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Uche Okafor, while stressing that the road is a federal road, noted that governor Willie Obiano, whose administration he claimed had been carrying out palliative works on the road, would quickly respond to their demands immediately he gets the report from him.