Ogbaru residents groan over abandoned road project
– Communities protests, blame Federal Lawmaker
In this exclusive report, Correspondent, Lawrence Nwimo writes that people living in three communities in Ogbaru- a suburb in Anambra State not only live in hellish groan but are daily counting their losses following the abandonment of a 1.5 kilometer road project attracted by a serving Senator and former Minister of Aviation, Stella Odua.
The people of Obeagwe, Akiliogidi and Ogwuikpele communities in Ogbaru local government area, Anambra state are presently not a happy people.
Their gross is against a former Aviation Minister and Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District, Mrs. Stella Oduah, who they accuse of abandoning a 1.5 kilometer road project sited in the area.
The road which linked the three communities had been obviously abandoned by the construction company assigned the execution of the contract. The communities as a result have endlessly been groaning in pains and terrible sufferings following the pitiable condition of the said road. They have been deprived of vehicular movements in and out of their homes and farmlands while those who manage to move do so at outrageous financial costs.
These three communities and indeed Ogbaru which are purely agrarian as they are bound by the River Niger. The Ogbaru people consider the Niger River waters that run through its region as their territorial lands. Ogbaru is surrounded by river Niger to the west, from Okpoko town to Ogwu-ikpele boundary with Rivers State (West end) and the Orashi River to the East along Ogwu-aniocha and Ossomari forest reserve at the East-end.
The communities’ also share boundary with Ihiala and goes up to Okija, Ihiala,Owerri-Onitsha road. They also borders Ozubulu, oraifite and Oba to its North-East end. The shallow depth of the River makes the area subject to frequent flooding due to heavy rainfall in the rainy season which impacts local farms and crops, thus, making this abandoned road project a nightmare for the natives who are predominantly local farmers.
Contractors gambles, politicians gains?
Investigations by Orient weekend revealed that the contracting firm that first handled the road project, Inter-Bau- an indigenous contracting firm had been foot-dragging endlessly in completing the road project before it eventually abandoned it, leaving the communities trapped and in horrible despair.
It was gathered that residents of the communities spend some fortunes before they connect to their neighbouring Ossomala community. Sometimes, they dissipate so much energies and waste precious times that could have been invested in other human labours trying to traverse through the terrible and abandoned road project in the area.
When our correspondent visited the communities, the residents expressed dismay at the former minister of Aviation for her role in their plight on the road. The people claimed that their plights over the pitiable condition of the road was orchestrated by the lukewarm attitude of the Senator who they said won the contract bid for the road project from the federal government without effective monitoring and supervision.
It was gathered that the road project which was initially being handled by Inter-Bau, Construction Limited, was later taken over by M/S Young Stallion Nigeria Ltd allegedly through the efforts of the former Aviation Minister.
The residents alleged that though the officials of Inter-Bau showed no sign of seriousness at work when the said contract was given to them, the situation became worse when the later company, M/S Young Stallion Nigeria Ltd took over the road project. They reported that the sands and equipment brought to continue work on the road project had long been abandoned near the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Obeagwe.
Speaking to our reporter, a native and road-user, Emeka Udogwu who hails from Akiri Ogidi accused government of exhibiting a lukewarm attitude towards the road project and total lack of will power to supervise the contractors and the contract in order to monitor the progress or otherwise of the work. He said government had promised completion of the road but failed in their promise.
“I don’t know the particular company that is handling the road but I know that Stella Oduah was the person that brought the contractors handling the road now. She took the contract from Inter-Bau and handed it over to the present company.
“Since over three years that the company took over the contract, they have not done anything tangible on the road. They have not done up to 50 meters for over three years. They parked their equipment and left”, he alleged.
Continuing, Udogwu insisted that, “The Federal government need to see what the contractors are doing here. They have messed up the whole place and rendered us trapped. I remember when Inter-Bau were doing the job, most times, the state government will come and inspect progress of the work. Such inspection gingers them up to perform their duties.”
Protests, more protests, yet no results
The people of the affected communities, Wednesday, took to the abandoned road site to protest the prolonged delay in the completion of the road project and the antedant sufferings it has brought upon them.
The protesters carried placards bearing inscriptions such as: ” we cannot transport our farm produce because of bad roads”, “Obeagwe – Akiliogidi- Ogwuikpele road has been abandoned for years”, “Government please fix Obeagwe- Akiliogidi- Ogwuikpele road” among others.
Recounting their experiences on the road, the protesters, made up of the aged farmers and local traders in the community accused the contractors and politicians of subjecting the people to untold hardship. They complained that the road had stopped them from marketing their farm produce which they claimed is their only source of livelihood.
They also complained that they lack basic amenities like light, water and access roads and cannot even access their farmland. “Our farm produces are trapped”, they reeled in utter frustration.
According to Victoria, (surname withheld by us), “our farm work is in vain as we have no means of taking them to the market. Our farm produce wastes at home. We only take the small ones we could carry to the market leaving others which later wastes.”
Another resident, Agnes Enemuwo who hails from Obeagwe said: “we trek several kilometers to the Ossomala market but on a day that it rains, nobody goes out. Any week that witnessed rainfall, we don’t go out because the road will be terribly bad.
“Motorcycle operators charge us between 1,500 and N2, 000 from Akiri Ogidi to Ossomala while from Obeagwe to Ossomala is N 1000. I remember the day a group of people were trapped with their vehicle on the road for a complete two days due to their inability to meander through the muddy road.”
Another indigene, Izuchukwu Otunuya said: “we are totally abandoned here. We lack access road, water, and other basic amenities. We are trapped inside bush without electricity.
“They have been constructing the road since I was born and up till now, the road is still under construction. The company had worked on the road for so many years with no remarkable progress. Every month, they bring one trip of sand and that is all for the month.
Corroborating this views, another resident, Mrs. Maryann Odili said, “Since I was born, almost over 40 years. I have never seen where there is good road and water in our community. No good hospital to take care of us. It is God that is saving us here. Most of our patients die on the road while being taken to the hospital in Ossomala.
In a related development, people of neighbouring Amiyi community in the same Ogbaru Local Government Area, also staged a peaceful protest to register their grievance over the poor state of Amiyi-Umuzu roads.
The agrarian community said their poor access road networks had denied them means of marketing their farm produce and also has reduced their movements to other neighbouring communities.
Speaking on the ugly development, the president general of the community, Nwanze Afubera, said the community is facing serious challenge in the major access road in the community especially during the rainy season.
“Our experience on the road is like a movement of gnashing teeth. It is not as if the road is too wide or lengthy. From Ochuche here to Amiyi is not up to 5 kilometers. We urge Anambra state government and our representatives to come to our rescue and make the road even motorable for us.”
“Our community is more or less a depot for cassava stem. After heavy flooding in the early part of the year, people, especially neighboring communities in Ogbaru comes to our community for cassava. He decried that this year’s case could turn worst as the road is no longer manageable for transporters.
“We don’t see any sign of them coming since their promise, neither was any equipment brought to the community. “I have written several letters to governments since my five years as the PG, but such efforts had never yielded any result”, he lamented, urging government at all levels to come to the community’s rescue and save the town from starvation.
Efforts to get the reaction of the accused Senator Oduah was unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report as her phone was switched off and she was yet to respond to a text message sent to her line.