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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

ACTDA Boss Clears the Air, As Mixed Reactions Trail Soludo’s New Flyover Project in Awka


By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Awka, the capital city of Anambra State has only one pedestrian bridge, through which pedestrians cross to and fro either sides of the popular Enugu—Onitsha Expressway, without risking their lives to road traffic crashes.

The bridge, which is located at the UNIZIK Junction axis of the Expressway, has, for decades, stood alone in the capital city without a sibling, despite several calls for similar pedestrian crosser to be sited at some strategic locations along the Expressway, most especially at the Regina Caeli Junction in the heart of Awka, given the recurring fatal road traffic crashes in the junction.

However, while these calls tarry without responsive action from the government, publications emerged over the weekend, of a new developmental project reportedly being constructed in the capital city by the Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led administration in the state.

The publications say the Governor has begun construction of a new ultramodern overpass at the popular Aroma Junction in Awka.

According to the publications, the overpass, being sited at a crossing point popularly known as Step at the Aroma Junction, would have pedestrian walkway and motorway, and is aimed at enhancing easier, faster and riskless human and vehicular movements from one side of Awka to the other.

The construction of the overpass, notwithstanding how developmental it may be, has, however, sparked up a chain of reactions from the residents and social media who shared their views on it, vis-a-vis its priority and necessity.

While many hail it as a long-overdue welcome development and laud the Governor for such developmental effort; others criticize it for not being a necessity at all; while many others say it is not a priority for now, given the “more urgent” need for a pedestrian bridge at the Regina Caeli Junction.

Some also wonder why the government should ignore the several calls for a bridge at the Regina Caeli Junction and the soul of many pedestrians who have lost their lives while to cross through the Junction, and then move to construct a crossover bridge at a place where nobody had ever called for it.

See some of the reactions below:

These reactions notwithstanding, when contacted by this reporter Izunna Okafor, for his explanation and views on the matter, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), Mr. Ossy Onuko described the project as a critical public infrastructure that is very necessary in linking the two parts of Awka while also easing traffic congestion in the capital city.

While he also recognized the importance of a pedestrian walkway at the Regina Caeli Junction, the ACTDA Boss hinted that the overpass being constructed at the Aroma Junction had also been yearned for by the public.

He, however, emphasized that Governor Soludo is intentional about the all-round development of Awka, stressing that no part would be left behind in the Governor’s transformative vision for the capital city and Anambra State at large. He further added that the new overpass, when completed, would make it possible for people to navigate the two sides of Awka without plying through the ever-busy Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.

According to him, “It is an overpass, which will include pedestrian walkway and motorway, linking the two sides of Awka, which is one thing we are lacking as a city.

“Two sides of Awka cannot be linked now without coming through the Expressway. Therefore, by this, we are decongesting the Expressway, such that anybody coming from the other side of Awka who wants to get to Ngozika Estate, Ifite, Okpuno, and others may not necessarily have to pass through the Expressway. In other words, the Expressway will eventually be left for people going to Onitsha or Enugu. And therefore, by this, we are also decongesting traffic in the City.”

Mr. Onuko, while reiterating that the need for pedestrian walkway at Regina is ever in the mind of the state government, said it was part of the reasons why the government stopped developers from building on the spacious land at the Junction, knowing fully well that it would be of great need to the government someday.

He also explained that the Federal Government had designed a pedestrian bridge for the Regina Caeli Junction, which, he said, was supposed to be part of the contract for the reconstruction of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.

The ACTDA helmsman, however, added that the state government may still take up the construction of the bridge the same way it has taken up the construction of the overpass at Aroma.

“The Commissioner for Works is interfacing with the federal government on the design they have made. And if at some points, the state government feels that these are not in line with what we want, we can take it up the same way we are taking this one up too.

“So it is also in the mind of our Governor and the government of Anambra State,” he said.

Mr. Onuko, who highlighted some of the recent developments witnessed by Awka, also lauded Governor Soludo for what he described as massive infrastructural development going on in the capital city and in different parts of the state at large.

“I believe the Governor deserves some accolades at this point, for giving Ndị Anambra these public infrastructures that are critical to the development and economic stability of Awka and our dear state,” he concluded.

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