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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

REACTIONS: Why We’ve Not Constructed Road Leading to Our Own Ministry, Anambra Commissioner for Works Explains, Pledges Action

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The Anambra State Commissioner for Works, Engr. Ifeanyi Okoma, has explained the reasons behind the delay in reconstructing the failed road leading to the State Ministry of Works Headquarters in Awka, popularly known as Works Road.

The Commissioner disclosed this in an exclusive interview with this reporter over the worsening condition of the ever-busy road in Awka, which is also the only major access road leading to his office.

This reporter, Izunna Okafor, recalls that the said road has been in shambles for quite a very long time now from one end to the other, even as trenches have gradually begun to spring from and threaten it from different sides and portions.

The current attention-craving situation of the road has not only constituted some measures of difficulty and discomfort for the road users, but has also recently begun to elicit reactions and concerns from the members of the public, who express their worry and wonder why such a busy, important and alternate road should be left to be in such an “Ikegwụrụ Situation”, even when it is the only major road that leads to the Ministry in charge of road construction in the entire state.

Some of the road users who shared their thoughts with this reporter in an interview, including Ozioma Charity (a civil servant), Amadi Chibueze (a Keke driver), Friday Ogbonna (a commercial driver), and Emmanuel Nwagalaku (a retiree) said the situation of the road had continued to deteriorate on daily basis, especially now that the rainy season has fully arrived.

While also noting that the road has no streetlights, the road users further revealed that the entire condition has made the area a danger zone at night, as criminal elements have begun to take advantage of the situation to rob passers-by at night, while vehicle owners also find it difficult driving/riding through it in the daytime.

Being denizens of the area, the sources who also recounted their individual experiences using the road in recent time, also recalled that the area used to be swampy, which took government a lot of interventional efforts, resources and expertise to reclaim and control, before some of the roads in the area even became constructable in the first place, due to the soil texture.

While explaining that some remaining asphalts on some parts of the road have long been scraped off but without any construction going on at the site since then; the people also warned and expressed their worry and anxiety that the situation of the area may revert to what it used to be in the past if something is not done urgently done, especially as flood continues to wash off the surface of the scraped portions of the road.

They, therefore, appealed for an urgent intervention from the government to arrest the situation, prevent any unforeseen circumstances and transform the area alongside the other parts of the capital city and other parts of the state that have been receiving the transformational effects of the current administration in the State.

“…Yes, the Governor is working and doing well in infrastructural development, especially in road construction across the state. There’s no doubt about that, because every sincere eye can see it. But the truth still has to be told where he is not getting it right, to help him do better.

“And to me, this road is an eyesore and needs very urgent attention and intervention because it would only continue to get worse and possibly turn the area to what it used to be before, if the government continues to neglect it. And I still wonder how the Commissioner for Works feels driving to work from here every day with this road in this condition. Something urgently needs to be done my brother,” Nwagalaku said.

However, speaking in an interview with this reporter, the State Commissioner for Works, Engr. Okoma acknowledged his Ministry’s awareness of the condition of the road and noted that it would surely be addressed.

When asked why the government has left it till this moment, the Commissioner emphasized the Ministry’s dedication to prioritizing the infrastructural needs of communities in more dire conditions before addressing their own infrastructural challenges.

 

This, according to him, is in line with the “Onye Aghana Nwanne Ya” (Be Your Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper) philosophy of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).

He recalled that there were colossal road failures and overwhelming number of deplorable roads in different parts of the state at the time the present administration of Governor Chukwuma Soludo came onboard in 2022, even to the point that many communities in different parts of the state were inaccessible, while some didn’t even have a tarred road at all. He specifically recalled the deplorable state of the Amansea axis of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, where travelers used to experience severe delays and discomfort.

He also recalled that some parts of the state were in dire need of government’s urgent intervention on their road networks more than others, adding that all these prompted Governor Soludo to declare a state of emergency in road construction, thereby transforming Anambra into a construction site, as it is today.

The Commissioner, however, explained that those interventions and the distribution of infrastructural projects and democratic dividends to the people and different parts of the state were prioritized by the government, based on certain considerations; but without ever leaving or planning to leave any part of the state behind.

According to him, this prioritization, which was also in tandem with the available resources, was also necessary to ensure timely and high-quality delivery of every project embarked upon, as the Governor always wants the best for the people at the best possible time.

He further explained that the prioritization had expectedly been very instrumental in the amelioration of the sufferings of travellers and salvaging of the deplorable situation at the Amansea axis of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, in giving tarred roads to some communities that never had one, in the transformation of Okpoko and Ochanja, in the intervention at the failed portion at the Chisco Park Junction axis Onitsha, as well as in construction of over 300 kilometers of roads and bridges, among other infrastructural projects so far delivered in different parts of the state by the Soludo Administration in just two years.

When asked why the Ministry left the only access road it has and went on to carry out such massive infrastructural projects in different parts of the State in obvious contravention of the wise saying that ‘Charity begins at home’; the Commissioner, who cited a quote by a popular African leader, emphasized that they believe in attending to the critical needs of the people first before addressing their own.

“This selfless approach is aimed at ensuring that the most vulnerable communities receive the necessary intervention and infrastructural improvements first. We are aware of the situation and are making arrangements to attend to it. However, we cannot prioritize our needs over the more critical infrastructure needs of other people,” he said

“In all good conscience, at least I can still drive to this place (referring to his office); but go to Nzam in Anambra West, the people in Ukwala (which is Igala-speaking part of Anambra state) cannot access their village most of the time in the year. Many people in Awka North cannot go to Achalla their local government headquarters. So, what stops us from prioritizing their conditions first over the one that is still manageable if we have limited resources to do all at the same time?” the Commissioner wondered.

Continuing, he said, “Not that this road is not important; it is! But we are also looking at the critical masses and the weaker sets in the society, trying to also alleviate them and improve their welfare. We are looking at the people whose situation is more critical than ours, both conditionally, economically, or otherwise.

“And, let me inform you, time is gone in Anambra when road projects were awarded simply because they lead to this person’s house or that person’s office or hometown. No! Soludo’s government is a government of priority. And our party’s name begins with ‘All Progressive…’ So, we have to progress along with all, including the critical masses.”

Concerning the speculated worsening situation of the road, the Commissioner said the situation was worse than what it is currently before the Ministry scraped off some of the asphalts; even as he re-emphasized that they have the expertise required to handle the situation.

He further recalled that the ministry had handled roads and sites with worse soil textures in different parts of the State in the past, including the now-controlled swampy site where the Fun City is currently standing, the site of the new Amawbia link road through the Presbyterian Church axis, which, he said, also used to be a swampy dumpsite in the past, among others.

“That notwithstanding, like I told before, we are aware of the condition of the road. And we will definitely do something about that anytime soon,” he concluded.

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