By Sunny A. Ijeoma
A section of the 19.5 km Jesse-Boburuku Road in Ethiope West Local Government Area, Delta State, rehabilitated by Delta State Government, has caved in barely two months after inauguration, June 5, sparking anger among villagers.
Residents of the two communities, who were elated when the governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, aka Road Master, came with the Chairman, South-South Governors’ Forum, Hon. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, among others, to inaugurate the project, were wearing long faces when NDV visited.
Their joy knew no bounds when contract for rehabilitation of the road was awarded to Gomene Construction Nigeria Limited, an indigenous company, and they hailed the governor, saying the project would facilitate transportation of their agricultural produce from the rural communities to urban areas.
Unfortunately, their expectations were short-lived; following the disintegration of a section of the road barely two months after it was commissioned, making vehicular movement totally impossible. It was an accident waiting to happen.
Though the Public Relations Officer of the construction company could not be reached for comments on what led to the collapse of the road, a staff of the company involved in the construction told NDV that it was just a matter of time for the spot to collapse.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “While we were constructing the road, we noticed that the culvert had cracked and there was the need for it to be replaced with a bridge.
“Upon noticing this, the management of Gomene Construction Nig. Ltd wrote to the Delta State government through the Commissioner for Works on the need to build a bridge in addition to the road project, unfortunately, the state government declined the request for the bridge with the road constructed on the shaky culvert which led to the collapse of the road,” he said.
Expressing the regret of the state government over the inconvenience caused by the incident, the Commissioner for Works, Chief James Augoye in company of engineers from the ministry, during an on-the-spot assessment of the failed portion of the road, alongside the state Commissioner for Environment, Chief John Nani and personnel from Levant Construction Company, debunked comments that the failure of the road was a result of a “shoddy job” by the contractor.
Giving reasons for the incident, he said: “The Ministry of Environment in an attempt to open up the Omoja Stream, across which the failed culvert was constructed, expanded it beyond the width of the existing culvert. The width of the river channel was increased from 10m to 30m, especially at the location of the culverts.
His words: “The increased flow of water resulted in scouring of the underlying earth material and consequently the surrounding asphalt cracked where there was depression and opened up. At the time of inspection, the failure was no longer progressive. There is, therefore, need to expand the culvert and reinstate the wing walls.
“We have proposed to construct two no double cell culverts at either side of the existing 2.35m x 2.5m culvert. I have mobilised Levant to the site and work is commencing,” he said.
Augoye asserted: “The state government regrets the inconvenience caused motorists by the collapsed culvert on the Jesse/Boboroku road and I will like to put on record that it was not as a result of shoddy job by the contractor as is being alleged by some commentators.”
The councillor representing Ward 5 in the council, Akamughe Blessing, said: “On behalf of my people, we want to commend the state governor for his prompt response in repairing the road despite the fact that he is not in the country.
“This shows that he knows the importance of the road to the people of the area especially as regards connecting the communities in the interior areas to the urban communities,” he added.
At press time, there was indication that government was about to commence repairs on the damaged portion, as a dependable official said Governor Okowa had given directive to the effect, while some materials have been brought to site.