The plight of commuters and motorists plying the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal highway worsened on Monday evening as most of them were made to spend hours at failed portions of the road.
Their agonies were made worse by a downpour, which covered several kilometres of the road, thus trapping many vehicles in the mud.
The worst hit was the Oboro-Ariam axis, which was completely covered by the flood, a development that made it impassable especially for small vehicles as some of them were submerged in the flood.
A man whose 505 Peugeot car was trapped in the mud threatened to smash the IPad of our correspondent who was incidentally traveling on the road as he wanted to take some shots.
The man looked frustrated and worn out as he tried to evacuate his little child from the trapped car to safety as there was no hope of recovering the car that evening because darkness was fast setting in.
“If you snap me, I will break that camera,” the man threatened in frustration as he rained abuses on both the Federal and Abia State governments for abandoning the road.
“There is nothing that the poor masses get from government if not to drive on good road. We are not asking them to give us money, but simply to make life easy for us as we look for our daily bread.
“God will surely punish them for all the billions of naira they are looting in Abuja without caring for the suffering masses,” he fumed.
The situation almost turned violent following a sharp argument that ensued between some passengers as one of them blamed the deplorable condition of the road on greedy contractors, who allegedly absconded after receiving mobilization funds to repair the road.
An aggrieved passenger from the northern part of the country said that roads in the Noryh were in good condition because the contractors (usually Northerners) would place the interest of their people above their personal gains unlike their Southern counterparts.
Speaking in Pidgin English, he said: “Chai, you cannot get any road like this in any part of the North. Na bad belle dey kill your people who dey chop the money for this road without doing the job.”
He was however interrupted by some Igbo passengers who argued that the road was in bad shape because the Federal Government had never awarded contract for its major rehabilitation other than palliative repairs of failed portions.
They argued that the colonial highway which served as a major link between South East and Akwa Ibom and Cross River States was long overdue for dualisation and total reconstruction.
Although the Federal Road Maintenance Agency has started some palliative works on some portions of the road, its condition has continued to grow worse making a trip from Umuahia to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, which ordinarily should not last beyond 40 minutes, to linger for about two hours depending on the fitness of the vehicle.
Some commercial vehicles operators plying the route have since diverted to other routes while the few on the road have threatened to hike fares by next week to offset the high rate of servicing their vehicles.
Protests by the villagers against heavy traffic flow in their local roads, which have continued to serve as alternative route to some motorists avoiding the failed portions of the highway, have also yielded no fruits.