Last Saturday, on the road between Jet Filing Station and Anambra State Teaching Hospital, Amaku, in Awka, road users were forced to seek alternative routes either to Old Awka Town or to the express, depending on where they were coming from. In trying to find that alternative, many road users had to go through an untarred road that had a particular bad spot which gave a raw deal to motorists. The cause of the raw deal suffered by motorists was the closure of the said road by a bereaved family mourning their dead.
This practice, it will be recalled, was stopped in Awka in the immediate past regime of Peter Obi, with the then Awka South chairman, immediately deploying officials to clear any blocked road as soon as he got information. He believed that no one had the right to deprive fellow tax payers the use of roads.
However, since the coming of the present regime, the practice has resurfaced and in full force too. When this paper sought explanations from the current transition chairman of Awka South LGA, Hon Azubike Ilo, he said such people paid into the government's coffers for their events but with the proviso that an alternative route must exist. According to him, permission would not be granted, if no such alternative existed.
However, we at Fides believe the former arrangement where the practice was banned in toto was better and more beneficial to road users. That mourners and other celebrants pay money to the state or local government does not make it right for road users to be so punished. Often times road users come upon a closed road without warning and will be forced to make a long detour to get to their destination. The motoring public should be saved this unsavoury experience by those concerned.
We contend that everything is not about money. There are certain things that ought not be monetised and allowing people to block roads because they paid to the government is one of them.
Anyone who plans an event that is big enough to warrant the closure of roads should look for an alternative venue for the event. Any inconvenience therein should be borne by the people concerned; not the innocent public.
But going by government's argument of making mourners or celebrants pay and ensure there is an alternative route, government should equally ensure that such routes are in good condition by using monies realised from the mourners/celebrants to repair them. This is because it is no use expecting road users to take to improvised routes that are in poor condition and which will invariably damage their vehicles.
Government simply has to ensure that the heavily taxed road users are not stressed any further and one of the ways of doing it is to free the roads for them, else very soon, every road will be taken up by people doing one thing or another.