The desire of Sen Hope Uzodinma to deliver on his promise to the people of Imo state in the area of infrastructure appears to suffer setback as a result of persistent rains in the last few months. CHIDIEBERE IWUOHA writes about this and more.
The promise of Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state to give the people first of its kind leadership capable of solving the perrenial leadership crisis in the state, especially in the area of providing good road network, is being hampered by the perrenial rainfall that has besieged the state for months now.
The immediate past governor of the state, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, while in office for seven months managed to rehabilitate and construct some roads in the state because the weather was a little bit lenient to do the job as at that time and was about doing more before the Supreme Court stopped him.Then, came Uzodinma who also promised with his 3R Mantra of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery. With that, Imo people heaved a sigh of relief and hoped that there would still be continuity of good things under what he called his ‘Hopism Administration’, especially in road construction and rehabilitation. But as he got ready to work, it appeared that the weather also got ready to work through the rains, thereby delaying the pace of work.
Reactions of Imo people especially road usersAs different road contractors embarked on their road projects, there was hope that at least in a short while, the bad roads which got delapidated towards the end of the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha would be rehabilitated and new ones put in place. But six months later, there appears to be no hope as the projects are still at their early stages and the conditions of roads in the state have worsened as they remain impassable. With this development, road users are now suffering. Both drivers of private and commercial vehicles and their passengers are now in a state of jeopardy. As a result, people have started making negative comments against the government of the day. While some believe that contractors have withdrawn from their sites believing that very soon the governor would be removed from office leaving them with what they have, others believe that they have not been fully mobilised because the governor is paying his political godfathers who falicitated his move into Douglas House. When one juxtapose their statements with the reality on ground, one may be forced to believe them. But in order to get the true position of things, Blueprint visited the Ministry of Works in order to see the commissioner, Ralph Nwosu after getting him to react on the same issue on phone days earlier. The reason of going to him was to clear some grey areas.
Commissioner’s reactionsWhen this reporter tried to find out whether the contractors had withdrawn from their sites, the commissioner did not find it funny. He felt that the reporter had aligned himself with the masses, not knowing that his visit to the secretariat was to balance his story and feed Imolites about the true situation if things. He condemned journalists whom he felt, had been writing negative stories about the Uzodinna adminustration without getting the facts. He later said that the contractors had never abandoned their sites but that the delay in delivering the road projects was caused by rain. He also disclosed that the contractors were encouraged to make use of cement and sharp sands to make the roads solid and stand the test of time with reduced cost unlike what was done by the previous governments who used only laterite before applying asphalt.
On the issue of finishing construction and coming back to repair the roads, he said that the construction of the roads were never completed and handed over but that there were different stages of the construction known as wearing and tearing within which road users would be allowed to ply the roads for sometime, adding that the idea is to spot the problem areas before final work could be done.
He specifically mentioned Assumpta Cathedral/Portharcourt Road and Control Post/World Bank Road as those in that category. At this point, it was pointed out to him that his explanations were never made known to the road users who were neither staff of the ministry nor staff of the construction companies handling the projects which was one of the reasons that brought about the inquiry.
Inspection of road projectsNot satisfied with his explanations, the three time commissioner took this reporter to some construction sites to enable him get a practical knowledge on the real situation. The sites visited were: Assumpta Cathedral/Portharcourt Road, Control Post/World Bank Road, MCC/ Uratta Road, Chukwuma Nwoha/Dick Tiger Road where an underground tunnel that would carry waste water from Dick Tiger to Chukwuma Nwoha, Egbu Road and to Otamiri River was being constructed and a new road being constructed around Imo State University main campus.
Contractors put delay on weatherAll the contractors handling the projects blamed the rains for the delay in handing over their projects or delivering them on time. They said that what they need is a few days of sunshine or favourable weather, then they would deliver good jobs. The contractor handling the Control Post/ World Bank Road hoped that with the coming August break, a reasonable portion of the road would be done, while Jack, another experienced contractor in the state who has done many roads in the state before the present one which is the reconstruction of MCC/Toronto Road, said if not for the rains, he would have reached the Toronto end of the road. He however, assured Imo people that with few days of good weather ahead, an appreciable work would be done by his company.
Another contractor, a Lebanese by name, Ali who handles the MCC/Relief Market road with beautiful walkways aready done on both sides of the completed portion, hoped to complete the job on the Dick Tiger/ Chukwuma Nwoha road, with its tunnel, provided there would be good weather as he said it would be practically impossible to do any reasonable job under the rains.