…Want contractor back on site
Okey Sampson, Aba
Residents of part of Ogbor Hill, Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State comprising Federal Housing Estate, Pepple, Aguwa, Akpu, Ovom roads and other adjourning areas breathed a sigh of relief when in 2001, the administration of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu constructed access link from Ogbor Hill from Emelogu Street to the city centre through Ngwa Road. This stretch has a bridge (the locals call it Orji Uzor Kalu bridge) at the Ngwa Road end of the Aba River (Waterside) which now serves as the link between that axis of Ogbor Hill and the rest of the city.
The stretch aptly described as the Ogbor Hill Bypass serves dual purposes. It is the alternative route to the city centre for not only people within the aforementioned area of Ogbor Hill and its environs, but also the road people entering into Aba from neighbouring Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Even those from Cameroon can conveniently use it when there is traffic gridlock on the popular Ikot Ekpene Road. The construction of that bypass has triggered unprecedented development of both the Ngwa and Emelogu roads end of the Aba River valley as buildings are sprouting up on daily basis in the hitherto desolate area thereby fending off the activities of hoodlums who previously used the vicinity as their hide-out.
During the administration of Chief T.A Orji, the road particularly the Ngwa Road axis including the bridge and many others were allowed to decay. However, when Governor Okezie Ikpeazu took over in 2015, he made haste to award contracts for the rehabilitation of the road together with the bridge.
Unbridled joy followed the award of contracts as the people then believed their sufferings would soon be a thing of the past. They were optimistic that the road when completed would re-engineer economic and social activities in the area.
However, the joy of the people were shortlived as no sooner the contract was awarded than it was abandoned. For the people who were eager to see work on the road completed, the state government should compel the contractor who left the site for almost a year now to return to work.
Residents and other users of the road who spoke to Oriental News are afraid that should the contractor not return to site before the next rainy season begins, the bridge might totally collapse.
During a visit to the site of the construction firm handling the project, near the Orji Uzor Kalu bridge, equipment of the firm which appeared abandoned for a long time were seen lying fallow and rusty. Nobody was on hand to speak on why the road project was abandoned.
Chima, a resident, expressed fears that the bridge could collapse if nothing was done immediately to address the situation.
“The contractor handling the project should be brought back to site and if the contractor has shown lack of competence, the government should employ the services of a competent hand to finish the road.
“It is my suggestion that government should deploy a team of experts to the site to access the bridge and fashion out better ways to address the situation before we will be cut off from the rest of the city. I am saying this because this is not the first time the bridge will be having problem and when it appeared it had been fixed, the problem will start all over, so, soil erosion experts need to come in and remedy the situation once and for all.”
Another resident, Uche said: “The truth is that we were happy when the state government under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu awarded contract for the reconstruction of the road and the bridge. If you look around, you will see how they were able to begin work to check what could have been erosion menace in the area. We were surprised that the contractor over a year now has not been to the site.
“This road was designed to link Azumini-Opobo highway to the city centre through Emelogu and Ngwa roads respectively. It was designed in such a way that if you are coming from Akwa Ibom and Cross River States or even Azumini, Ovom or Opobo road, your don’t need to get to Bata or Ikot Ekpene Road before you get to the city centre, it was a well thought out project by government. But the aim of that project appears defeated now that the road is in such poor condition.
“It is unfortunate that the contractor abandoned the road for reasons I may not know. If you go up to Good Morning market and other parts of Ngwa road, you will be able to see how the contractor abandoned the work and left. The erosion which is washing away parts of the bridge started gradually and if nothing is done to address the situation, I am afraid that by the next time you will come here as we are entering rainy season, this bridge will collapse and we will be completely cut off from the city centre.”
He called on the state government to make haste and call the contractor back to site to avert a total collapse of the bridge and to recommence the rehabilitation of the road particularly the Ngwa Road axis.