I don’t know if the Federal Government is aware of the state of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. I believe that even senators and house members from this side of the country aren’t aware of it too. I mean, there is no way someone with authority can pass through that road and not do something about it. Believe me when I say that Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is a death trap. It is indeed a disaster.
The part of the road that is so bad right now is ‘Ugwu Onyeama’ to 9th Mile axis. This place is just an embarrassment to the nation. The last time I passed there I was asking if it was still an expressway or a cleared farm awaiting cultivation. To avoid this part of the road, motorists now pass through Milliken Hill into Ngwo and then burst out at 9th Mile. But heavy duty trucks and other long vehicles are barred from Milliken Hill, so they have to enjoy the Ugwu Onyeama axis.
Another section that is also very bad is the one that ran through Ugwuoba town. It looks like Ugwuoba has been mapped out to trap motorists every year, especially during the rainy seasons. When this area becomes so unbearable, a construction company will be hired to do a little patch work on it. By the next rainy season, everything would have been washed away, and the old story continues.
The only place that is good enough to be called an expressway is from Agu Awka to Amawbia Bypass, and then from Mkpu Odumodu, Umunya to Onitsha. Beside these ones, every other part of the road is a complete mess.
When I came down East in 2016, I saw RCC (Reynolds Construction Company) working on the road. I was like “Thank God o, at least RCC will do a good job there”. Months later, Niger CAT started on another section of the road. Well, people were sceptical about them because their works didn’t look so ‘solid’.
So, that was in 2016, about three years now, and our roads are still bad. I don’t know what’s going on but I noticed that these construction companies weren’t steady with their works. They may work this month and disappear for another two or three months, or even more. People kept speculating on the possible causes of this irregularity. Some said FG is owing them, others said the cost of materials has been affected by inflations so these companies couldn’t work with the old cost. Anyway, those were speculations.
Now, some parts of the road have been constructed – between Oji River and 9th Mile – but it is only in one direction, which has just two lanes. But for reasons best known to RCC, the section of the road they constructed is blocked so that motorists can’t use it, and it’s not as if they are working on it right now. In essence, the bad side of the road is still being used.
My concern about this road is that it carries heavy traffic. Vehicles of different sizes ply it. The road is ever busy. This is why I still wonder why it is in such a deplorable state.
I know a lot of people benefit from this bad road. Among such people are the hawkers. They take advantage of the bad state of the road to sell their wares. It’s as if they knew that travellers have stayed long on the road and will need some refreshments. But then, I don’t think these hawkers will want to be on that road in the night because of the high rate of accidents and thefts that happen there.
Honestly, I don’t know if the FG is waiting for a national disaster to happen before they do something. My question is why is that road still in that state? Since it has been awarded for construction, why is it still the way it is? What is the Federal Ministry of Works doing about that road? Has the road been written off? I mean, what is going on?
When people start talking about being marginalised they have a reason for that. But in this case, I believe it is not a case of marginalisation. I am seeing corruption written all over it, and nobody is saying anything about it.
Well, I hope the people concerned actually know what they have been causing innocent Nigerians because of the bad state of the road. The first problem motorist encounter, like I stated earlier, is accidents. There is no day you will pass that road without seeing one form of accident or another. Lives have been lost, vehicles have been damaged, bones have been broken and people have been sent to hospitals.
The people I pity most are the heavy duty trucks and tankers with merchandise that fall regularly. I know a lot of people have lost their business capitals on that road. I’m saying this because the rate at which heavy trucks fall and smash all that they carry is disheartening. There are some you’ll see and you know that the owner could recover some and sell, but some are totally damaged. I can’t just imagine what it feels like carrying your wares from a far distance only to lose them when you are closer home. Trust me, it is very painful.
The way motorists drive on this road so that they can meet up with time is quite appalling. The truth is that the journey that is supposed to last for an hour thirty minutes takes about three to four hours to complete. Because some drivers want to get to their destinations on time, they drive recklessly through the potholes and gullies. The problem with this type of driving is that it either causes accident or damages the car.
The body pains travellers experience after plying this road is worth mentioning. There is no day I pass that road that I don’t end up with headache and aching muscles. Some people even throw up inside the car. Honestly, you wouldn’t want to ply this road unless you have something important you are going for.
To be honest, I believe there is a reason why federal and the concerned state governments ignore this death trap called road. It is quite unfair that people have to pass through a lot just to go for their normal businesses. Federal Ministry of Works need to explain to Nigerians why a road, whose contract for reconstruction has been awarded for many years now is still the way it is. Truly, Nigerians need to make their public and civil servants accountable. They should stop taking us for granted.