A Federal government delegation from the Ecological Fund Office of the Presidency, Abuja led by Mr. Abubakar Takuma arrived in Okpoji Aku community in Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State on December 16, handing over a federal government road project in the area to the contractor Smace Nigeria Limited. This signaled the take-off of work on Uratta Road, a 3km stretch.
The road which was last rehabilitated during the administration of former governor of the state Orji Uzor Kalu, has suffered neglect in the hands of successive administrations. The Port Harcourt end of the road has been turned to a market, while weeds have taken over the middle of a road that once witnessed movement of cargo trucks and other commercial vehicles on a daily basis.
Residents of the area including a representative of Aba South State Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Clinton Ebere whose house is located on the Uratta Road, find it hard getting to their homes during rainy season as a result of flood.
It was also gathered that some residents and house owners of the area have abandoned their homes after they were submerged by flood that sometimes resulted to death.
One of the residents who gave his name as Ifeanyi said the impassable nature of the road has made the people live in fear because of the activities of hoodlums and cultists who now find their area a safe haven to committee all manner of crimes.
Here is some good news. The federal government through the Ecological Fund Office of the Presidency has stepped in to ensure the reconstruction of the 3km Uratta road project that is budgeted to cost the sum of N460m.
The traditional ruler of the benefitting community, Eze Onyebuchi Ugwuzor, Aku Akpu II of Okpoji Aku autonomous community could not conceal his relief when the federal team visited. He said, “This road has stayed more than 18 years now. God will bless you. I am promising that by the time they would be commencing work here, we will give them the necessary security that they would need. God will help us to protect them and their working implements.
“I want to also appeal that unemployed youths of the community will be given the opportunity to work with them so that they will from such, see what to do in order to put food on the tables of their families.
Mr. Takuma from the Ecological Office of the Presidency, under the supervision of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said that they got to know about the problem of the area through the member representing Aba North and South federal constituency who drew their attention to the plight of the people.
Takuma expressed hope that the road project on completion would help to ease the sufferings of the people and also improve economic and business activities in the area.
He said that he would be coming to the construction site early next year to see the progress of work on the road.
In an interview, the lawmaker representing Aba North and South, Hon. Ossy Prestige said that he was touched by the plight of the people when his attention was drawn to the situation in Uratta.
Prestige said that as a lawmaker representing the area, he couldn’t have closed his eyes or feels less concerned when the people are suffering.
The lawmaker who stated that the road would help to ease off the usual gridlock on Port Harcourt road and improve the lives of people in the area disclosed that he had started lobbying to attract the federal government to the road before Babachir Lawal, former SGF was ousted from office.
He thanked Boss Mustapha and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approving the rehabilitation of the Uratta road that has been abandoned in the last 17years by successive administration in the state and national level.
“We came here with some of the management staff of the Ecological Fund Office of the Presidency. They have come here to do the final inspection and possibly to flag off this very important road which by the special grace of God, I attracted the attention of the federal government to do it for you.
“Please, what we are pleading with you especially those who have turned this place into a market because the road hasn’t been in use for over 15 years. We are appealing to you to please relocate your shop. Job will begin on this road immediately.
“What we are appealing to you is to give them your maximum support and cooperation that they deserve because this road has cost a whole lot of inconveniences to those living around this area. For this number of years, we know what you people have been going through and we want to solve it once and for all. We know that you all have suffered and that your suffering is coming to an end,” Prestige stated while addressing some of the traders who have turned the Port Harcourt end of the road to a mini market.
Also speaking, the representative of the contractor handling the project, Chinedu Okeke of Smace Nigeria Limited, begged for maximum support and cooperation of the people and pledged to engage the services of youths in the area during the rehabilitation work.