… As Bridge nears Collapse
By Chioma Ndife
Some indigenes of Umuawulu Community in Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State, have protested over the deplorable condition of Habba Bridge, which according to them, has turned to a deathtrap.
The bridge, which remains the major access road through Umuawulu Community; the permanent site of National Orientation Camp, Mbaukwu/Umuawulu; and Awgbu, Amaokpala in Orumba North Council Area; and some other communities in Imo and Abia States, respectively, has been partially washed away by flood.
They also faulted the government’s alleged refusal to include their name on signages installed on roads to Nibo and Awka in Awka South LGA, describing it as a sign that Umuawulu was no longer part of Anambra State.
Addressing newsmen on Wednesday, July 15, a community leader and activist, Comrade Osita Obi, recalled that Governor Willie Obiano, two years ago, carried out palliative works on the road and promised to construct a new bridge thereafter. He disclosed that stakeholders from the community had officially written to the state government, reminding them of the project, noting that such letters had not received favourable response.
In his words, ‘We are appealing for the state government’s urgent intervention on the bridge. The state government promised to complete the work but we are yet to see the fulfillment of that promise. Some of our stakeholders wrote to them but they never came. This bridge is the only access to over ten communities.
‘They are all agrarian communities. Its deplorable condition affects farmers and other commuters, especially the officials and members of NYSC who take it every day. We are appealing to the government to come to our aid within one month to construct a new Haba Bridge and effect the corrections on the signage. We will mobilize for mass action if they fail to address our plight,’ he warned.
Also speaking, a banker in the community, Mr. Peter Nwafor, said the condition of the bridge impacted negatively on their socio-economic activities, including transactions of agro-produce, and had also grounded some institutions due to low patronage.
For his part, Comrade Chukwuma Nwankwo, while alleging that at least two persons either died or got maimed on the spot every year, bemoaned the loss of lives on the spot every year, noting that no driver passed it without slowing down to avoid damaging their vehicles.
‘After that, they have to change speed in order to climb the mountain. Most times trailers and other heavy duty vehicles while trying to do this, lose control and roll down to crash into Haba Bridge, killing fish and other marine animals. Last year, four people died while our town union secretary general got paralyzed when a trailer going to unload cement rolled down at the spot.
Reacting through a phone interview, the Anambra State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Marcel Ifejiofor, said they had directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to the bridge, while the State Signage and Advertising Agency (ANSAA) was already designing a replacement to the signages.