By Ogochukwu Ogoji-Eke
A fact-finding mission of members of a Senate ad hoc committee to Abia State reveals how deep and frightening the erosion and poor federal roads are, reports UGOCHUKWU UGOJI-EKE
At some locations, they could peer into the abyss created by erosion. At other points it was practically impossible to continue their journey. The roads are unspeakably bad, the erosion sites frightening.
The trip by members of a Senate ad hoc Committee on Works to assess federal roads and erosion sites in Abia State was revealing. The mission shaped up following a motion by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa drawing attention to the horrors of poor federal roads and dangerous erosion locations in the state. The committee members’ trip to Abia was therefore to see things for themselves and bring back a report to the chamber in Abuja. Perhaps, if things were as bad as Ohuabunwa claimed, the Senate could initiate efforts to tackle the disasters once and for all.
So, off they went, led by Senator Barnabas Gemade. Senators Uche Ekwunife, Bassey Albert, Matthew Urohido and Clifford Odia, Mao Ohuabunwa and Theodore Orji were on the trip.
Abia residents have been complaining about broken federal roads and the hazards of erosion for years. The ever-worsening gully erosions have swept off farmlands and even some houses and other structures.
The senate committee members were prevented from continuing the inspection of Ohafia-Arochukwu Road because a truck was stuck at a gully erosion point, blocking the road.
The truck was stuck at Ania Ohafia in Arochukwu Local Government Area of the state and forced the committee members to stop further inspection of the bad situation of the roads including environmental degradation to enable them make proper assessment of the roads and erosion sites they came to see.
They made a U-turn to inspect the serious erosion site on Elu Amuke Ohafia before proceeding to Oruruala Isiukwuato, a major erosion menace that has devastated the area over years and defied all governments from President Olusegun Obasanjo till date.
Before the adhoc committee set out from Umuahia, the state capital, the Senator for Abia Central and immediate past governor of the state Senator Theodore Orji took the members to the Ahia Orie Ette erosion site that has posed serious threat to Umuahia.
Speaking after the inspection visits, Senator Gemade observed the magnitude of the problem and the reactions of the people, saying that their visit was sequel to the motion moved on the floor of the Senate by Senator Ohuabunwa for Abia North which compelled the senate to direct the inspection visits to some states beginning with Abia.
Gemade said “Truly I have seen with my eyes the deplorable condition of the Arochukwu Road which is a federal road; the committee will do all in its power by taking the problem to the ecological office and we are sure that something will be done.
“It will no longer be business as usual as change has come, we pray that the economy of the country will be able to carry the project, the people should not be allowed to continue to suffer, even as bad roads are not peculiar to Abia alone.”
He remarked that the problem was not new, only that this time the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari was resolved to effect change through physical action and not pledges and promised the people that his committee will make its recommendations to the senate and assured the people that succor is on the way.
He urged the people to continue to have some patience pledging that his committee will make strong recommendation to the senate to cause due attention to be paid on the sites and praised Senator Ohuabunwa for drawing the senate attention to the problem very shortly after his inauguration as senator from the state.
Senator Ohuabunwa in his remarks appreciated the senate for its quick reaction to his motion by constituting an ad hoc committee to undertake the visit and urged the senate and the federal government to immediately act on the report of the inspection and the committee recommendations towards addressing the problem permanently.
In a memo addressed to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, the state Ministry of Works pleaded with the chairman to prevail on the relevant authority to appropriate adequately to rehabilitate federal roads in the state.
The memo signed by the Permanent Secretary Richard Nwala said, “The level of dilapidation of the federal roads in the state has caused the Abia government to write the Federal Government severally, including requests for permission to take up the construction of some of them using State fund, despite the state’s lean resources.
The requests for permission were made on rehabilitation of Port-Harcourt Road Aba, Aba-Owerri road and Aba-Ikot Ekpene road which are no longer passable”, and went ahead to listed 16 other Federal Road Projects whose rehabilitation contracts , were awarded and abandoned at different points.
It would be recalled that the collapsed state of federal roads and serious erosion sites in Abia North especially at Isuikwuato, Ohafia, Bende and other local government areas in the state had become challenges to succeeding senators and Reps Members of the area including the Presidents of the country.
Less than two months after he became the member for Arochukwu/Ohafia Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Uko Nkole raised similar motion in the house drawing the members’ attention to the Ohafia-Arochukwu Road which he said had prevented sons and daughters of the area from coming home for their 2015 New Yam cultural feasts.
Hon Nkole had in several occasions tried to draw the attention of the federal government to the deplorable condition of the federal roads in Abia North zone where his constituency is situated, and the suffering of his constituents and their inability to evacuate their farm produce.
He noted that his constituents have been suffering for years and pleaded with the federal government to come to the aid of his people and save them from further devastation from both erosion and deplorable condition of federal roads in his area, stressing that both the state and federal governments have a lot to benefit when the roads and erosion sites are worked upon. (The Nation)