Thursday, 29 September 2011 00:00 From Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt News – Metro
Residents of the gas city bemoan lack of roads, drainages despite huge contributions to the nation
Author of this article:
From Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt
IN Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Council of Rivers State, the feeling is rife that the area does not deserve the neglect it has suffered from the state and the Federal Government.
The residents believe they deserve better, if for nothing else, but because the OB/OB and Obite Gas plants that contribute more than 46.6 per cent of the entire feedstock of gas to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project in Bonny is located in the area.
But rather than pay attention to their needs, the state and Federal authorities have allowed a situation in which their roads are
are washed out, some dotted with pot holes and now a nightmare to motorists.
A resident, Benjamin Orike told The Guardian “it is regrettable that despite the community’s huge contribution to the country’s economic wellbeing, governments have neglected its roads.
“The Federal Ahoada-Egbema Road linking Omoku to Imo State and the state-owned Ikiri Road linking this community to Elle, are death traps.
“It is rather sad that these roads were allowed to deteriorate to this level, making movement of vehicles and goods very difficult.
Along most of the dual-carriage Ahoada Road, particularly at Ikiri and Eze Ohali junctions and Omoku Central Market area, motorists are compelled to drive through one lane to avoid their vehicles being damaged, which causes the traffic jam the route in now notorious for.”
A truck driver, Anthony Eze, said, “though major road projects have been undertaken by the Chubuike Ameachi-led government, nobody has remembered Omoku.”
On his part, Martins Okechukwu Oluwu, blamed substandard construction and lack of an integrated drainage system for the dilapidation of the roads.
According to him, the road at Umuakocha Street, which links Egbada Road, that was constructed five months ago by a Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contractor, has already gone bad.
He said it was cheaper to preserve a road through proper maintenance periodic repair than allow it to degrade and then rebuild it.
He also suggested that the state government should urgently commence construction of an integrated drainage along Ahead Road down to Santa Maria High School area, and channel the water to the Omoku River.
A shop owner, Daniel Kalu told The Guardian that prospective customers found it inconvenient to visit Erema Street these days for any transaction, lamenting that that owners of various business outfits in the area still paid their taxes to Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Council, which is more interested in revenue collection than in development.
“Customers avoid our shops. Erema Street cannot be accessed through Ahoada Road by car. Only commercial motorcycles dare because of the bad state of the road and they now charge N100 per drop instead of N50. We are praying for government to assist us with good roads and drainage to assuage our suffering.”
Also expressing his frustration, Chukwuka Oburu, said some Okada riders and their passengers have died trying to avoid a pothole, citing an instance on where an Okada rider fell while avoiding a crater on Court Road and was crushed to death by a speeding car.
“We are not asking for flyovers. We are not asking for speed rail. We’re not asking for miracles. We’re just asking for passable roads benefiting an oil-producing town,” he said.
Speaking with nostalgia, Mr. Amaechi Woke who lives at Justice Felix Ichokwu Street, recalled that during the Melford Okilo administration, Omoku was earmarked as one of the developing cities as part of effort to decongest Port Harcourt.
He, however, bemoaned “the indifference of government towards this promising commercially viable town with, at least, seven commercial banks.”
He said it was inhuman for government to neglect the town, which for over a decade, had depended on Italian oil company, Agip, for roads, water, electricity. He also said it was morally offensive for there not to be any Federal or state road projects in Omoku despite her contributions to the national economy.
When The Guardian visited the community, Court Road, which leads to the famous St. Michael Anglican Church located in the centre of the town, had been split into two by a deep crater, making it impossible to drive through the Church Road to Ahoada Road.
Also Kerigani, Police, Iyasara, Court Roads, Hallmark Avenue and Ihukwu Street to mention a few, are impassable.
Frustrated by the trouble road- users are subjected to daily, Mrs. Charity Ajie suggested that if government could not build new roads, it should, at least, maintain the existing ones because a safe and efficient transportation system is the foundation for any town’s economic vitality and growth.
“Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni headquarter should not suffer this way. We have two strategic gas plants beside the oil production taking place here. We are the main source of gas to NLNG Bonny. Two key oil companies operate from here. The local council exists only in name. It cannot even rehabilitate roads,” she said.
But the Commissioner of Works, Victor Giadom, however, told
that the government was waiting for the dry season so that it could undertake massive rehabilitation of dilapidated roads across the state.