Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Lawmakers of the 7th legislature of Anambra state have unanimously spoken in one voice concerning the level of dilapidations on roads across the state. This time, they said it was most appropriate that as representatives of the 30 constituencies in the state, they should be in the forefront of campaign against the deplorable state of roads in their respective domains.
Edward Obiefuna Ibuzo who represents Onitsha-North 2 state constituency told NewsProbe that the people of Onitsha-North 2 had clamoured and made countless passionate appeals to the state government for it to expedite actions on Apaka Road in the area but all their entreaties seemed to have fallen on deaf ears and that the only option left to explore was to carry placards. Ibuzo said that the 30 members of the state house of assembly were clamouring vigorously for the ministry of works to be more proactive in carrying out its obligations.
The lawmaker noted that the roads were terribly bad and that if response was delayed, the condition of the roads would become worst to the detriment of taxpayers. He said there was absolute need for lawmakers to be actively involved in the selection of road projects because they were the spokespersons of their various constituencies.
Ibuzo said, “What we want in Onitsha-North 2 is for government to do Apaka Road for us to ease our pains and long suffering. That Apaka Road is just a 4-kilometre road. So we may apply that ENDSARS approach but not violent. We said it during budget presentation that this time, we don’t want any lumping method. Each road must be listed in the budget so that as representatives, we can comfortably relay to our constituents roads approved for construction in the budget. We must have a system where we know what to do with taxpayers’ money.”
Apart from Apaka Road, the lawmaker said other roads begging for attention included New Market Road leading to main market Onitsha, Ugwuta Road, Francis Street, Ako Street and a host of other roads, stressing that he would embark on palliative works on some of them while they awaited government interventions on them even as he vehemently affirmed that Apaka Road was dear to Onitsha-North 2 state constituency.
Chidi Livinus Udemadu of Ihiala 1 state constituency said the issue of roads in Anambra state was a thing of utmost concern to the citizenry and that from all indications the conditions of the roads had gone from bad to worst. He said in his country home Amorka in Ihiala, there was no road that suggested government presence. Although he was cognisant that some roads in Uli, Amorka and Ihiala had been captured in the budget, he said contractors handling the projects had abandoned them, leaving the roads worst than the way they met them. The lawmaker further lamented that some of them hardly attended events they were invited in their constituencies because there were no roads to navigate through such areas. He said members of the 7th legislature had continued to cry out about the conditions of roads in their various constituencies even though he admitted that government was confronted with limited resources.
Udemadu however emphasized that some roads were very pivotal to the people and that construction of those roads would improve on the living conditions of the people. Although, he noted that the over 30 billion naira set aside for road construction in the 2021 budget for three senatorial districts was a far-cry.
He said, “I want to tell you that if this money is anything to go by, it therefore means that the roads in Anambra will continue to go from bad to worst because this money will not do anything. There are some contractors who have been crying that they have not been paid. What we are saying is that government should do everything to ensure that the roads are taken care of. I want to call on the governor to carry out palliatives on these roads so that when people return for Christmas and other festivities, they will know that they are in Anambra state.
“Let me also state here that Ihiala 1 constituency has no roads and I want to beg His Excellency to please look towards our constituency. We are not asking him to award new roads but the ones that have been awarded like the Oseakwa Road, Oluoha Road, Igwe Onyekaonwu Road, together with other roads in Uli, Amorka and Ihiala. Let him come and do some of these roads so that our people will have access to their houses and wherever they want to go.”
The representative of Idemili-South state constituency Hon. Barr. Chuka Ezewune said his constituency was the worst hit with bad roads. He said no road had been constructed in Idemili-South local government area in the last seven years. He said other local government areas in Anambra-Central senatorial zone have had fair share of road infrastructures but Idemili-South has not experienced any form of road construction for many long years now.
Ezewune said, “The state of roads in Idemili-South is in a very pitiable condition. I have called the state government to declare a state of emergency on roads in Idemili-South. To me, it seems like Idemili-South is not in the map of road construction in Anambra state because I cannot point at any road that is up to 3 kilometers that has been constructed in Idemili-South for the past 6 or 7 years. So I would say it is like we have been forgotten in Anambra state.
“So I am calling on the commmissioner for works or whoever is responsible for choosing projects that if they come to Anambra-Central, the constituency that seems to be abandoned is Idemili-South local government area. So the money they have budgeted for roads and bridges, we are in dire need of them. The Oba road requires about 3 bridges. That road was started more than 7 years ago and as I tell you now, even the earth work has not been completed. The Nnobi Ring Road, half of it was done about 10 years ago and the other half has remained like that. The situation of these roads are worst today. Other constituencies have benefitted from road construction 10 times more than Idemili-South local government area.”
Although the legal luminary noted that no budget head was enough, he stated that since the state government allocated about 10 billion naira for road construction in each of the 3 senatorial zones in the 2021 budget, he was of the opinion that Idemili-South local government area should be accorded priority attention in Anambra-Central senatorial district because other local government areas have all benefitted from road Infrastructures.
On his part, Lawrence Chukwuweike Ezeudu of Dunukofia state constituency observed that it has been a very terrible tradition for the executive arm of government across the country not to involve the legislature in the selection and determination of road projects. Ezeudu explained that lawmakers were elected representatives of their various constituencies and that they must be carried along.
He said he was adequately aware of the roads that are of Paramount concern to the people of Dunukofia state constituency. The lawmaker said Nawgu-Isu road was of paramount importance to Nawgu community and that they have been yearning for the construction of the road since the first republic to the present day. Ifitedunu-Umunya road was another road he mentioned that required urgent intervention. The lawmaker said Enugwu-Agidi road needed rehabilitation to ease the sufferings of people plying it. He said the executive arm should realise that they were voted for by the people and that it would be most apposite if constituency representatives were carried along in the selection and awarding of road contracts.
The Chairman Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Works and lawmaker representing Njikoka 1 state constituency Hon. Dr. Timothy Ifedioramma said that the 2021 budget proposal on roads would address specific roads mentioned in the budget unlike previous years where they were lumped together in the estimates.
Ifedioramma also explained that the amount budgeted for roads and bridges was too meagre considering the magnitude of debts owed contractors. He said there is a more realistic budget for next year but the quantum of dilapidations on the roads may render the budget for works inadequate.
The lawmaker said, “We need two important roads in Nawfia. One cuts across almost 7 villages out of the 10 villages we have in Nawfia. Afor-Umuriam-Uruoji road in Nawfia is in a deplorable condition. I have written to His Excellency and I have appealed to him severally; we are still awaiting his response.
“Another road is the one that goes through our Igwe’s palace and down to Nise. That road is also critical and it is an economic road. So in my constituency, apart from two roads that have been constructed, I will say we are in shortage of roads. The Enugwu-Agidi-Isuaniocha-Okpuno road is another very important road to my constituency.”
Be that as it may, the state commmissioner for works Engr. Marcel Ifejiofor had assured Ndi-Anambra at the budget defence that roads would receive priority attention in the 2021 budget. Ifejiofor stated that concerns on roads had been noted and that government would work within its available resources to construct more roads as well as maintain already existing ones across Anambra state.