By Nwabueze Akabogu
It was indeed cheering news when recently the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, announced the selection of fourteen contractors to immediately commence rehabilitation of the terribly dilapidated roads across the state as soon as the rains abate.
It is common knowledge that virtually all the roads across the state have become nightmares and deathtraps to motorists and pedestrians alike, occasioned by shoddy construction work done on the roads. It is regrettable and heartbreaking that all the roads constructed during the past thirteen years or so by previous administrations in the state have all collapsed simultaneously due to very poor quality work on the roads by contractors.
The reason for the total collapse of the roads are not far-fetched as policy failure on the part of the government in the award of road contracts to incompetent or “emergency” contractors that lacked the technical know-how in modern road construction could be said to be responsible for this monumental disaster. On the other hand, lack of clear vision and imagination on the part of the authorities responsible for the award of road contracts in the state through inadequate valuation and proper costing of road projects required for the construction of high quality and long lasting roads in the state were equally responsible for the deplorable condition of the roads across the state.
To correct the obvious anomaly, the government must adopt a policy of adequate costing of road projects that will stand the test of time and not simply awarding road contracts with inadequate funds and which in turn compel the contractors to perform shoddy jobs based on the funds made available to them in the contract agreement.
Another critical factor responsible for the failure of road projects is the total lack of adequate supervision on the part of the awarding authorities whose responsibility it is to ensure that projects are carried out strictly in accordance with the terms of the contract agreements.
One would recall rather with nostalgia when former Governor Chris Ngige, during his administration (2003-2006) was personally supervising road projects to ensure that such projects were carried out according to specification. It is worthy of note that all the roads constructed during that era have remained intact and in perfect condition up till date. The above observation is an obvious and verifiable fact beyond politics. We as a people, must learn to recognize and give credit to our past and present leaders who had achieved great successes in certain socio-economic and political spheres.
The government must therefore adopt a policy of adequate costing of road projects that will have a life span of at least twenty years before embarking on any maintenance on such roads. Most of the roads in the state have collapsed in less than five years after their construction and this sad development obviously is a huge drain on the economy of the state, even as enormous funds will be required to rehabilitate and fix the failed roads.
To further illustrate the deplorable and pathetic condition of the state roads, is the popular Amawbia bypass within the Awka Capital territory which had undergone several reconstruction and maintenance process in recent years. It is a matter of deep regret and disheartening that this all-important bypass had been reconstructed at least four times from the administration of former Governor Mbadinuju to former Governor Chris Ngige who also reconstructed the same road and followed by former Governor Peter Obi who again reconstructed the bypass twice, while the incumbent Governor Willie Obiano rehabilitated the road in 2017. It is pertinent to note that a colossal amount of tax payers’ money had been expended over the years on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of this rather “jinxed” bypass which has now collapsed completely.
It has become imperative therefore, that all necessary steps must be taken to reconstruct this road once and for all using modern technology that will guarantee its life span of at least twenty years before any future maintenance on the road could be embarked upon. The authorities must therefore deploy modern road construction technology by first applying concrete basement in view of the very weak soil texture of the road. They should discard the interlock technology they had recently experimented on the road and which has failed completely.
It is gratifying to observe that the state government is already constructing heavy iron barriers on the bypass, ostensibly to prevent heavy duty trucks and petrol tankers from plying the road after its reconstruction. This will certainly reduce the terrible pressure on the bypass, and thereby saving the life of the road after its impending reconstruction.
It is therefore recommended that henceforth only reputable, competent and well equipped contractors with requisite expertise in road construction should be awarded the contracts for the reconstruction of the failed and dilapidated roads, as well as construction of new roads across the state in order to save the government further embarrassment and minimize untold hardship suffered by the people, consequent upon the deplorable condition of the state roads.
In similar vein, the state government must equally take immediate action to construct pedestrian fly over bridges at certain strategic locations within the Awka Capital City as a matter of utmost priority in order to save the lives of Ndi Anambra who more often than not, carelessly lose their lives while attempting to cross the ever busy Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. Particular reference must be made however, of the extremely dangerous Regina Caeli Road Junction where heavy human traffic is witnessed on a daily basis with the attendant pedestrian causalities who in the attempt to cross the expressway are often knocked down by high speeding vehicles and consequently lose their precious lives in the process.
It will be recalled however, that the state government had previously made a firm commitment to construct the pedestrian flyover bridge at that notorious junction but regrettably, the government is yet to fulfill this promise. It is now time for the government to discharge its sacred obligation to the people by the immediate construction of pedestrian flyover bridges at certain strategic locations along the Enugu-Onitsha Express way such as:-
(a) Regina Caeli Junction
(b) Kwatta Junction and
(c) Ngozika Housing Estate Junction.
The immediate construction of these pedestrian flyover bridges within the Awka capital city will no doubt minimize, if not totally eliminate the frequent loss of innocent lives along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway which has acquired the notoriety of sending unfortunate pedestrians to their early graves via auto accidents.
The present erection of iron barriers to prevent pedestrians from crossing over the Expressway, thereby endangering their lives; much as it is a lofty idea, has however proved ineffective as people still make use of the few open spaces to cross over the expressway.
The permanent solution to this preventable human tragedy and frequent loss of innocent lives along the ever busy expressway is the construction of pedestrian flyover bridges NOW.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs, Commentator and Analyst.
He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.