Panic as Soludo Abandons Obi Okoli Road Project

…Residents Lament on Bad Roads in Okpuno

By Gloria Ibesi, Ogochukwu Nwaokafor and CP Uzoaganobi

As the rainy season gets to its climax, panic has set in among residents of Obi Okoli Avenue, Awka, owing to the seeming abandonment by the Anambra State Government of the only accessible road leading to the UNIZIK Temporary Site situated in the capital city.

Fides reports that the Anambra State Governor, Soludo had recently instructed the Awka Capital Territory Authority, ACTDA, to demolish about one hundred shops, hotels, residential apartments, churches, ATM facilities and many more located along the Oby Okoli Avenue, which stretches from UNIZIK Temporary Site Junction to Okpuno Village in Awka.

The exercise was said to have started earlier this year which caused some residents to lose their shops, houses and many more, with some others begging on the streets due to their losses occasioned by the demolition.

However, the residents are beginning to raise alarm over the abandoned project at Oby Okoli Street, plus the bad road at Okpuno, Goodwill Junction, Y Junction axis and Abakaliki Road.

Fides gathered that the residents of the affected areas are lamenting bitterly and wondering why the government would hasten to destroy their property when it was not yet ready to execute the project.

They noted that the roads there are in pitiable conditions, forcing vehicles, tricycles and commuters to experience great difficulty in accessing the road.

One of the residents in the affected areas, name withheld, disclosed to Fides that they had been waiting on the government to help fix the road before the advent of this year’s rainy season, as the road connects to CAPAD, Abakaliki Street and UNIZIK Temporary Site. He said the poor state of the road had made plying on it difficult.

In the same vein, a trader at Goodwill Junction Market, Mrs Amaka Ezeh, described the condition of the road as very bad.

In her words, ‘I don’t know what the government and the contractors are waiting for; the road is getting worse as the days go by, it leads to the market and many other places, the government should please do something about this road.’

Speaking with Fides, Engr. Eze who works with RB construction firm handling the project overseen by Niger Cat Construction Company, said they were doing their best to deliver the project according to schedule.

He said they had barely three months to hand over the project, ‘We are doing our best to make sure that we beat the time. We have a roundabout here and the two covers on either side have been put in place. The next phase of the project is the drain before we now put our stone base that will be followed by asphalt,’ Eze told Fides.

He also added that they had ongoing projects at Regina and were also working from the other end of Tempsite at Isuanaocha.

‘We are pushing the work from the end too, hoping to meet the schedule, Eze noted, adding that the major challenge they faced was the rainy season, even as he said they were still hoping to conclude the work within the given time.

However, one of the affected persons from the demolition exercise at Oby Okoli Street, Chinedu Ikemefuna, decried the government’s action, describing it as tantamount to vandalizing his means of livelihood.

‘Just take a look at the road; he has not done anything yet on it, yet, he urgently demolished everything as if he would work on the road today or tomorrow. It is an act of wickedness,’ he said.

A POS Attendant who did not want to disclose his name, described the government’s action as brutal, wondering how they could destroy people’s shops and houses without following up on the work they gave as reason for destroying the houses.

A fruit Seller on the roadside named Chioma Okoye, said the government had done their worst by destroying people’s property without any work.

A former chairman of Awka South Local Government, Hon Leo Nwuba, speaking on the abandoned roads by Governor Soludo, however pleaded with the people of the state to be patient, while stating that the roads were not abandoned but only had to undergo due process before attainment.

‘It’s just a temporary discomfort that we ought to endure. The road project is one of the greatest thorns in the flesh of Ndi Anambra. When he came in as the governor, the first request we asked of him was road construction; that is why he has channeled all his energy to road construction and we can witness this from the Ekwulobia Fly Over he is working on.

‘The Amansea-Ebenebe-Oba Ofemili Road was cut off earlier but Soludo has connected them back to the state,’ Nwuba said, while further applauding Soludo for adopting what he called the centre periphery approach, which, he said, other leaders, apart from Dr Willie Obiano, did not adhere to.

‘Governor Soludo started his work from the Centre which is the Governor’s Lodge; that alone will enable him to work from the comfort of his zone in order to project and implement his work diligently.

‘The same lodge which was started by Dr Mbadinuju’s administration and was abandoned by the last administration, has now gone to appreciable stage, courtesy of Soludo. Indeed, APGA Government is doing well, it’s a party that will always deliver,’ he said.

The people of the state, especially those in the affected areas, will, no doubt, be expecting more positive developments and quickly too.