Travelling from Enugu to Markurdi through Nsukka is like making a journey through hell.
Whether one is making the journey in dry or rainy season, the story still remains the same.
During rainy season, the road is usually submerged with water or rather flood while in dry season, it is a pool of dust.
Though a Federal road, motorists plying it have described their experience on the road as a nightmare and hellish due to its deplorable state.
However, for over half a decade now, the road which is the major access road from the northern part of the country to the South East region has become a death trap for motorists as they pass through indescribable stress plying it.
Currently, some sections of the road is impassable as motorists had to divert from the Opi Nsukka junction axis of the road through the Ukehe-Abor-9th mile old road to dodge the failed portions of the road.
The horrible situation has trapped and cut off access to some communities in Igbo-Etiti and Udi Local Government Areas of Enugu state
In any case, last week ago, the council chairman of Igbo-Etiti LGA, Hon Ikenna Nwodo had to make mount in a motorcycle in his effort to access how bad the road has become and to fashion out palliative measures to ease the daily suffering of the people of the council and other road users.
According to the LG boss “as always, my adminstration is committed to ensuring the welfare of the people of Igbo-Etiti as well as being sensitive to the daily challenges faced by the average citizens within the Council area. yesterday (last week Tuesday), I embarked on the physical assessment of the new 9th Mile-Oturkpo-Makurdi federal express road riding on a motorcycle to ascertain what palliative measures can be applied to ease the daily suffering the road has posed to users especially as the festive season approaches.”
At the same time, recently, Senator Chukwuka Utazi representing Enugu North senatorial district in the National Assembly while interacting with newsmen in Nsukka said that the federal government has awarded the contract for the dualization of the Enugu/Makurdi road.
According to Sen. Utazi, “I took it upon myself when I went with a cameraman to video and snap the deplorable condition of the Enugu/ Makurdi express road starting from 9th mile down to the border connecting Benue state. I was in Udenu LGA. Indeed the road is in a very bad state. I took the recordings to the relevant ministries in Abuja and I followed it up until a contract for the dualization of the road was awarded. The construction of the road had started from the 9th-mile axis, but work stopped on the road due to scarcity of funds,” he said.
Expectedly, the road users and residents of the area have been expressing worry that such an important interstate road that connects the southeast and the north is not getting the proper attention it deserves both from the federal and state governments.
Nevertheless, a commercial bus driver, Mr. Anthony Onyishi in his reaction said that plying the road these days is like making a journey to hell, adding that the situation has doubled the sufferings of the road users.
“The bad state of the road has cost us a lot in the past six years. Before now, from the 9th mile to Makurdi which use to be three hours journey is now a day journey depending on the type of vehicle you are using. Minibusses like this my own can always maneuver some of the failed portions but that would not be said for articulated vehicles. Any day it rains the road becomes impassable until the rain dries off.
“From Opi junction part of the road down to Ogbede to Affa axis has failed. Motorists now divert from Opi junction through Ukehe-Abor old road to 9th mile. The situation is hellish because that alternative road is not even good and wide enough for big lorries and other vehicles. Every day accidents are happening on the road, claiming lives and damaging people’s goods and vehicles,” he said.
Mrs. Grace Uzor, a trader at Nkwo-Ogbede Market in Igbo-Etiti LGA said that the state of the Enugu/Makurdi road is typical example of government insensitivity to the plight and well-being of her citizens. She blamed both federal and the state government for not doing enough to salvage the situation.
“The deplorable state of Enugu/Makurdi federal road speaks volumes of government insensitivity on the plight and well-being of the people. This is one of the major and busiest interstate roads in the South East region that connects the North, yet it is not the top priority of the government. It is even more disturbing that the Enugu state government’s intervention on the road has not been felt, even as they know that the road is also connected with four local governments in the state.
“Currently, some people have been cut off from accessing their community with their vehicle. Some of us trading in Nkwo-Ogbede Market have lost all our customers because there is no road again to get to the market, yet we have Minister, Governor, senators and other government representatives from Enugu state with much intervention from them,” she said.
However, reacting to the deplorable condition of the road, the Enugu State Government said it will begin remedial work on the 9th mile-Opi junction, along the Enugu-Makurdi expressway, and the 9th Mile-Opi old road to ease the pains of people in the area.
This is contained in a press statement issued by the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Greg Nnaji, in Enugu on Friday.
Nnaji said that given the deplorable condition of the roads, the administration of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has opted to carry out remedial work on the two federal roads in the interim while awaiting the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
He disclosed that the Enugu State Executive Council, conscious of the difficulties arising from the situation of the roads, set up a Technical Team to visit the axis with a view to identifying the critical failed sections.
According to the commissioner, “they are mandated to report findings for some palliative measures aimed at repairing the roads for safe passage, especially for tankers carrying petroleum products and articulated vehicles.
“If no intervention is given, it may negatively impact the availability of these essential products in the state and its environs,” Nnaji said.
The Commissioner added that the State Executive Council had directed that immediately after the rains fully recede, the state government would commence palliative measures.
He said the government would remove all trucks and other vehicles stuck on the road, and carry out remedial works where possible to give room for immediate passage of commuters and goods while awaiting the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
“The state government, therefore, appealed to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to urgently carry out maintenance works on the two major highways to safeguard the lives of the citizens and protect their livelihood in these tough economic times,” he said.
The Commissioner further revealed that repairs of the federal interstate highways were awarded to RCC and ARAB Contractors for total reconstruction, stating that work had not progressed on the roads as expected.