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Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Suicide Mission of Crossing the Expressway: ACTDA Launches Clampdown on Defaulters in Awka

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Residents of Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, have showered encomiums and panegyrics on the Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led administration in the state, and specifically the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA), over the move to clamp down on the defaulters of the ban against crossing the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway without using the pedestrian bridge.

It would be recalled that many pedestrians around the UNIZIK Junction axis of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway in Awka, have resorted to ‘walk-crossing’ or running over the ever-busy Expressway from one side to the other, despite the availability of a pedestrian bridge at the Junction.

This they do by either slowly entering and climbing out through the wide drainage channel that demarcates the two sides of the road, or by jumping the gutter outrightly, which would require them to run from the other edge of the road to the centre, so as to gather enough velocity for the jump, all with its attendant risks.

This recurrent act of these defiant pedestrians, which could be better described as a suicide mission, also, sometime, culminated in a lucrative business for some area boys, who turned it into a money-making venture by providing planks as a pathway across the drainage for the use of and easy crossing of the pedestrians, who also pay in return for it.

These practices continued, even after ACTDA had put a warning sign at the particular spot through which they mostly cross.

However, the narrative has just changed, as the Agency launched a total clampdown on the defaulting and defiant pedestrians who have refused to make use of the pedestrian bridge despite all the warnings, advocacy, and enlightenment campaigns so far championed by the agency against such suicide mission.

Speaking on the initiative while interacting with newsmen on Tuesday in Awka, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ACTDA, Mr. Ossy Onuko said the essence and aim were to safeguard the lives of the pedestrians and ensure that the infrastructure provided by the government is utilized effectively. He also stressed that the primary goal is to prevent the accidents and fatalities that could result from such reckless practice.

Mr. Onuko recalled that ACTDA had taken some persuasive steps and made several efforts in the past to discourage people from such acts, which didn’t yield the expected result, hence the current initiative, whereby people would be stationed in the area to steadily monitor and apprehend anybody who crosses the Expressway without using the pedestrian bridge. He also warned that any defaulter apprehended henceforth would pay a fine of N5000, to serve as a deterrent to others.

While describing such a defiant act of some pedestrians as grossly irresponsible and life-threatening, he also said that the move to clamp down on the defaulters became very necessary, given the need to take such precautionary measure to prevent any impending doom or unforseen circumstances, as vehicles of different sizes and weights pligh and speed over the Expressway. He further hinted that the speeding vehicles and the chaotic rush involved in crossing the Expressway make it precarious and a nightmare as well, hence the move to address that.

When asked how the initiative aligns with the vision of Governor Soludo for the people and for the Capital Territory, the ACTDA Boss explained that it is part of the larger framework of the Solution Government to ensure the well-being and safety of the people.

According to him, the Soludo Administration is not only interested in transforming the capital city, but is also committed to creating an orderly, safe, and livable environment for all, both within the Capital Territory and other parts of the State; adding that strict enforcement of relevant measures and regulations is a critical component towards the actualization of this vision.

While highlighting benefits of using the pedestrian bridge, Mr. Onuko further advised the pedestrians, the Awka residents, and Ndị Anambra at large to support the Governor achieve his vision for the state and at the same time help themselves by refraining from anything that will sabotage the good efforts of the government or expose them and their loved ones to reckless and avoidable deaths.

In their separate reactions to the development during interviews with newsmen, some persons who were seen using the pedestrian bridge to cross the Expressway, Sir Joseph Udeoba, Mrs. Aṅanti Adenike, and Mr. Anselm Nwosu, commended the Anambra State Government and ACTDA for the new initiative, describing it as a decisive step to enhance the safety and well-being of the people.

Highlighting the numerous risks associated with crossing such an ever-busy expressway without using the pedestrian bridge; the trio, however, expressed optimism that the enforcement of the ban would unarguably reduce or possibly bring a perpetual end to the dangerous practice and its dangerous consequences.

They hinted that using the bridge not only gives peace of mind and provides a safe crossing of the Expressway, but also contributes to a more orderly traffic flow and a reduction in road accidents.

While calling for the sustenance of the initiative and urging the government to maintain the enforcement measures to ensure continued compliance; they also joined their voices to appeal to their fellow pedestrians to embrace the use of the pedestrian bridge, emphasizing that taking shortcuts usually cuts short one’s life too.

 

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