The state of roads in Imo state in the last three years has not been so bad as CHIDIEBERE IWUOHA reports.
Since the Hope Uzodinma led-administration entered office in Imo, the state government has constructed lots of roads, but it appears those roads have not made any impact on the citizens because there are many of such roads begging for attention throughout the length and breath of the state.
Investigation shows that the people found themselves in this situation because of neglect by past administrations in the state. This assertion was made by the state commissioner for works, Ralph Nwosu, in a chat with Blueprint.
Major roads constructed
According to Nwosu, Owerri-Orlu road has reached 98% completion while the remaining part of Okigwe road would be completed soon. He said the first phase of the Okigwe road has been completed from Owerri –Anara in Isiala Mbana LGA approaching Okwelle in Onuimo LGA, while the second phase of the construction would start from Anara to Okigwe LGA. He added that the Ekemelee axis of the Okigwe road which used to pose a major problem has been repaired as motorists no longer feel the negative impact because it is smooth, as according o him the two roads are billed to be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on a yet-to-be fixed date.
Meanwhile, the contract for the Owerri-Mbaise road up to Imo- Abia state boundary, he said, would be awarded soon even as he assured that the job would be pursued with vigour.
Hon Nwosu noted that the roads are being constructed with materials that would make it stand the test of time such that when the present government leaves office, the roads would last. He listed the materials to include laterite, stone base, asphalt ( 2 coats), cement in some places for stabilisation, with markings and street lights.
Regrets and targets
Nwosu who has served in this same capacity three times in the past regretted that after eight years of the immediate past administration, many roads were left in a state of disrepair which the present administration inherited.
He however assured the people of Imo that by the time the present administration’s tenure expires, more solid roads would be built, provided the resources are available.
While reiterating that the target of the government is to construct solid roads for posterity, he made it clear that government would try but cannot construct all roads at the same time due to lean resources.
On erosion control measures
On the continued flooding in Owerri, the state capital, the commissioner said the ballon technology-driven tunnel to channel water from Chukwuma Nwoha/Egbu road to Emekuku and the other to Otamiri River is not for the whole city. He added that of Works Layout would soon be constructed to take care of that area. He however lamented that the tunnel constructed by the Sam Mbakwe administration around Government House roundabout to take flood to the Nworie river is being blocked with rubbish by residents, saying it costs government a lot of money remove it. Because of this, he advised residents not to liter the environment with rubbish to avoid further blockade and flooding.
Advice to residents.
The commissioner advised government functionaries to always bear in mind that they are working for their people, even as he added that if they do well in office, they would live to enjoy it.
While commenting on Owerri/Mbaise/Obowo/Umuahia road, the special adviser to the governor on special duties, Nze Chinasa Nwaneri said although roads had been constructed by previous governments, they were not quality roads like the ones being constructed by the present government. According to him, most of those old ones had been affected by ‘acidic or torrential rainfall’ as claimed by those who constructed them.
“Governor Hope Uzodimma and his ‘Shared Prosperity’ government standing on the tripod of the 3R mantra of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery has continued to prove his mettle as a government that focusses towards bringing a paradigm shift in governance as it concerns road construction and rehabilitation.
“Imo state is literally a construction site as there are no dilapidated road begging for government attention that has not been noticed. Moreso, many of them have been completed while others are near completion and Imolites without sentiments can truly applaud the state for this laudable achievements, among many others.
“The Owerri-Mbaise/Obowo/Umuahia road, like many other roads in the state, has over the years begged for government’s attention both as a link road and federal road. Previous administrations in the state have only ended up reminding the people how bad that road was through ‘patch-patch’ work which has continued to deepen the woes of motorists and the dangers that come with bad road network,” he said.
Nwaneri said that the governor understood the effect and bureaucracy associated with construction of federal roads but that a leader must at a point take daring steps that could ameliorate the pains of his people irrespective of the consequences.
“While it may not have ended at approving the construction and rehabilitation of the roads, the state government has equally awarded it’s construction to a construction company that has proven over the years to be one of the best in civil construction because it uses quality and durable materials in line with global best practices.”
The company, he noted, is currently working on Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe roads which are nearing completion and those who ply through those routes can only appreciate the technical know-how of this company as regards to road construction. There is no doubt that Owerri/Mbaise/Obowo/Umuahia road would receive a similar touch, durable and that stands the test of time. “Therefore, better days are coming if not already here with us, especially with the pace of on going road construction in Imo state on the map of socio-economic development and good governace.”
Commenting on the improvements brought to Imo roads by Gov Uzodimma, a writer, Richard Odu remembered that when the governor came to office, he took up the two harzardous roads of Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe and turned them around in less than two years.
“Within the Owerri metropolis, the capital city of the state, only a crooked mind would refuse to see and acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the administration to rid the city of the menance of annoying traffic jams occuring on the major streets in the metropolis.
“First, was a robust demolition of expensive roundabouts erected by the government of Rochas Okorocha in the city’s major junctions.
“Curriously, Okorocha has an unequalled penchant for roundabouts. The roundabouts which were built on the Whetheral road by Douglas road, Whetheral road by Mbaise road, Whetheral road by Assumpta and Naze/Nekede Poly junctions as well as others did nothing but slowed down movement of vehicles when drivers are either trying to turn left or move forward. They were simply too large and occupied precious space that should have been left for free flow of traffic.
“On coming into power, the administration of Uzodimma set at work to remove these encumbering roundabouts and to replace them with efficient traffic lights that automatically took over control of traffic in the major junctions. Efforrts were also made to fix the bad spots on these junctions to ensure a hitch-free movement. The latest of the roundabouts to be brushed off was the one at Nkworji junction on Okigwe road, a spot that continuously tried to be a nightmare to road users for a very long time because of the regular traffic build up occuring there.
“With the removal of the roundabout, traffic also improved at the junction and work is going on to smoothen rough spots that impair movement.”
FG to refund money spent on roads
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the refund of money spent by the state government to fix some major federal government roads within the state.
In a release issued by the chief press secretary to the governor, Oguwuike Nwachukwu, the dilapidated roads which the governor embarked on recently because of their economic importance to the state were majorly the Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe (both nearing completion) and would soon be comissioned by the President as well as that of Owerri-Mbaise-Obowo road which he would flag off when he visits the state next month.
He recalled that President Buhari had earlier been slated to visit the state to commission some projects but that the visit had been moved to August because of the heavy rains that resulted in slow down of the construction.