Commuters and motorists in the South-East have expressed worry over the dilapidation of most federal roads in the area, saying that the situation has made vehicular movement cumbersome and more expensive.
In a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the zone, the people blamed the deplorable condition of the federal roads on poor handling, substandard job and poor maintenance culture by successive governments in the country.
They, therefore, called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the roads to alleviate their plight and also save lives and property of the people
In Anambra, the Commissioner for Works, Mr Marcel Ifejiofor, said that because of the poor state of the roads, motorists resorted to diverting to state roads, hence bringing a lot of pressure on the roads.
Marcel said that the state had written to the Minister of Works on the matter and that plans were on to put barricades on some of the state roads to bar heavy duty trucks and articulated vehicles from plying them and causing more damage.
She said: “Every road is designed for a particular load measure and allowing heavy duty vehicles to damage the state roads would have negative impact on the state economy.
“In spite of heavy rainfalls being experienced in the area, government is not relenting in making the roads passable.
“We have 188 active road projects and we are doing palliative work on some strategic roads to ease the sufferings of road users pending the end of the rainy season,’’ he said.
Also, the Controller, Federal Ministry of Works in the state, Mr Adeyemo Ajani, said that his office was aware of the deplorable state of most federal roads in the state.
“We have communicated this to the Minister of Works and Housing and he has directed that we forward proposals to his office on the state of the roads.
“As we speak, approval has been given for the rehabilitation of seven federal roads in Anambra and once the rains are over, work will commence on the roads,’’ he said.
Ajani listed Onitsha/Owerri road, Onitsha-Aguleri-Ideani, Otuocha-Ibaji-Nzam-Innoma, Nnobi/Ekwulobia, Amawbia-Ekwulobia-Uga and Oba-Ozubulu-Nnewi roads, as some of the roads already approved for rehabilitation.
He said that remedial work was ongoing on the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway to ease the burden of motorists traveling to either Asaba, Owerri or Port Harcourt Airport after the closure of Enugu Airport.
Ajani, who appealed to road users to be patient, gave an assurance that measures were in top gear to address the deplorable state of federal roads in the area.
Mr Cosmas Ikechukwu, a commercial bus operator on the Awka-Ekwulobia-Owerri route, said the bad state of the road deteriorated with the rains.
In Enugu state, commuters expressed concern over the deplorable condition of some of the federal roads which, they said, have made life unbearable for them.
Mr Harrison Ogbu said that while some portions of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway had been rehabilitated, a lot more work needed to be done.
Ogbu regretted that the federal government had yet to complete rehabilitation works on the road which, according to him, serves as a gateway to all the states in the South-east.
He said that work seemed to have been stalled on the roads, following the withdrawal of contractors from site.
A motorist, Mr Ben Nnamani, said that the Enugu section of the Enugu–Onitsha Expressway had become a death trap.
Nnamani described the Abakpa Junction/9th Mile section of the road as one of the worst dilapidations.
He said that many fatal accidents had been recorded in the area, especially the Ugwu Onyeama axis of the road, with loss of many lives and property.
NAN reports that the 9th Mile–Nsukka section of the Enugu–Markudi highway had remained impassable in the last 10 years.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Raji Fashola had during a tour of the federal roads in the zone in May 2018, said that the Federal Government would re-award the Abakpa–9th Mile section of the Enugu–Onitsha Expressway, following allegations that the contractor handling the road absconded.
Meanwhile, the Federal Controller of Works in the state, Mr Femi Oyekanmi, who was said to be on leave, could not be reached to comment on the issue.
Conversely, road users in Ebonyi said that federal roads in the state were in good condition.
A cross-section of the people, who spoke on the condition of the roads, commended the state government for its periodic interventions on the roads.
The respondents said that the roads, including the Abakaliki-Enugu Road and Abakaliki-Afikpo federal highway, were hitherto in deplorable condition.
An official of the state Ministry of Works and Transport, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the state government rehabilitated the entire Abakaliki-Afikpo Road and as well as the Abakaliki end of the Abakaliki-Enugu Road.
“The state government felt the sufferings of Ebonyi citizens and others who ply the 62km-Abakaliki-Afikpo Road, with regular breakdown of articulated vehicles.
“The road has since been fully rehabilitated and put into use and the normal one hour duration from Abakaliki to Afikpo has been maintained as against the three to four hours in took when the road was in deplorable condition,” he said.
Mrs Anna Igwe, a motorist, also thanked the state government for rehabilitating and dualising the Abakaliki section of the Enugu-Abakaliki federal road.
She said that the initiative had helped to minimise traffic congestion and accidents often recorded in that section of the road in the past.
“I urge the federal government to complement the state government efforts by rehabilitating the dilapidated Abakaliki-Oferekpe-Cross River Road, to facilitate free movement of people and goods on that axis,” she said.
Chief Eni Chima, Chairman of Afikpo South Local Government Area, said that the state government was rehabilitating federal roads in the area without any discrimination.
“The federal road in the area is the Nguzu-Amiyi-Owutu-Osso Road, which was abandoned by the Federal Government.
“The state government is, however, yet to take over rehabilitation of the road reportedly attracted by the former senator representing the area at the national assembly.
“They could not construct more than a kilometre of that road since the past eight years and even where construction was effected, it was poorly executed,’’ Chima said.
Efforts made by NAN to get comments from officials of the Federal Ministry of Works in the state proved abortive as none was willing to speak on the issue.
From Abia, the poor state of federal roads in the area leaves motorists and commuters with horrible daily experience.
The list of roads that are in terrible state of dilapidation include the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road, Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road, Aba end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
Others are Umuahia-Owerri Road, Arochukwu-Ohafia Road, Aba-Azumiri-Akwa Ibom Road and Arochukwu-Ohafia-Ebonyi Road.
Also, the Ohafia Junction-Ebonyi Road, Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia Road, Umuikaa Junction-Umovo-Imo Road, Arochukwu-Ikot Ekpene-Cross River Road, Aba-Abayi-Ohabiam, Ohafia-Biakpan, Arochuk-Ikot Okpora and Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene-ABA-Owerri Road are in poor state.
A cross-section of the road users, who spoke on the deplorable condition of the roads, described their experience as nightmarish.
They said that the poor condition of the roads worsened with the rains, adding that they now spend more man hour on short trips.
They said that the dilapidation also resulted in serious accidents with loss of lives and other valuables.
Mr Promise Kelechi, a mini-bus driver on the Umuahia-Ikwuano route, described the road as a death trap.
Kelechi said that many transporters no longer plied the road because of the enormous damage to their vehicles.
“It is so bad that mini-bus operators can no longer go Ariam, the boundary community between Abia and Akwa Ibom, because our vehicles cannot move beyond Ndoru,” he said.
Also, Bright Akaeghelam said that the roads were in terrible state, especially from Ihie, Ukwu Ugba, Ahieke, Timber to Ndoru.
Transporters on the affected roads have hiked their fares by about 80 per cent, justifying the increase on the cost of fuel spent on each trip and vehicle maintenance.
The Federal Controller of Works in Abia, Mr Chuks Nwankwo, told NAN that a majority of the roads, including the Umuahia axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, were undergoing rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Nwankwo also said that many of the roads, including the Umuahia-Ariam-Akwa Ibom Road, had been awarded for reconstruction and were captured in this year’s budget.