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Angry reactions greets FG’s S’East projects progress report (2)

Federal government’s recent release of list of about 37 projects it claimed to have undertaken across south east geopolitical zone, including the second Niger Bridge has sparked a new debate and outcry of marginalization of the region. Orient Daily gathered that shortly after the government published the list of the projects on its social media page in late August; it drew mixed reactions from many citizens in parts of the south east region who claimed to have first hand updates on the projects. Mr Igbonekwu Ogazimorah, one of the prominent citizens from Enugu state that responded to the project updates wrote: “I can confirm that one side of the 9th Mile-Awka expressway is under construction. The section spurring from 9th Mile is smoothly done but not yet in use. Nothing is going on from 9th Mile to Enugu and Ugwu Onyeama remains a scene of deadly accidents with trucks falling over from the big ditches. On the positive side, Ogazimorah confirmed that the Nike-Orji-Enyi Awhum- Egede-Affa road project has commenced while that of Umulumgbe-Umuoka-Ikedimkpa, all in Enugu state were about kicking off with the contractors mobilizing to site. Nwachukwu Ezugwu, described the SUKUK intervention on federal roads projects in the southeast as a charade. “Nothing is going on actually.. 9th mile-Opi Nsukka road is a death trap. Ukpor-Awkuzu- Umunya-Nkwelle roads are not motorable. It’s not really the fault of President Muhammadu Buhari per say, but a reality that we (Igbos) are somewhat unwanted in this country. Onyekachi Omeke, also disclosed that the Ogrute -Umuida-Akpanya road project has been abandoned since 2015 with the contractors yet to return to site. Ifeanyi Nnamani, who hails from Nkanu in Enugu State lamented that out of about 56 federal government contracts awarded in the state since 2005, only about 13 were awarded by this regime. “Most of the ones inherited from past administrations have been abandoned and some people are giving Buhari/APC credit. Awarding a contract is one thing, execution is another”, he wrote. Dan Amor, disclosed that the Okigwe end of the Port Harcourt – Enugu expressway remains an eyesore due to failure of the government to fix the road. “The whole stretch of the road from Port Harcourt to Enugu is in a SORRY state”, he declared. Phil Ezogu, who also confirmed the poor state of the Enugu-Port Harcourt road stressed that “it took me 90 minutes to cross Lokpanta Gariki Cattle Market. The stretch is in a state of disrepair.” Uche Onu Emeh, however raised concern over the sincerity of the claims made by the federal government in relation to the projects. Emeh observed: “contract Nos 1-4 relate to my local government and its strange they were included as part of the ongoing projects in the South East. It is even stranger the way Contract Nos3-4 have been listed. There is no rehabilitation going on there. I really don’t know if some of the projects on this list were released to lure the South East into more agitations or they are just being out-rightly mischievous. Engineer Edmund Nkalu, the Anambra State Chairman, Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), described the claims by the federal government on south east projects as half-truth. Hear him: “Government should be sincere to themselves, if they say that they are building Enugu-Onitsha road and people in Onitsha and Enugu are not seeing the road, where then are they doing the road. You and I pass through the Enugu-Onitsha expressway; you and witnessed how far the second Niger Bridge has moved from 2015 till date. So, we have also seen the pace of work in almost all the lists that was released by the Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. “We all understand very well that it takes time for this project to materialize, it is well understood. But the point is that we want to see them doing something. I plied the road last week and I didn’t see any earth moving equipment on that road. According to him, the second Niger Bridge has not actually witnessed more than 5 percent progress since Buhari administration took over in 2015. Rev Fr Martin Onukwuba, a Roman Catholic clergyman told Orient Daily that the federal government resorted to releasing a list of 37 projects being executed in the south east to deceive citizens. “The truth is that government is not sincere about the roads. It’s just like the seaport we have in Onitsha. It seems to me that government doesn’t understand the meaning of seaport. It is only government that can drive it but if individuals begin to drive something that is the responsibility of the government, that means, there is problem somewhere. On the state of Enugu-Onitsha expressway, rehabilitation of first Niger bridge and the second Niger bridge, he stressed that he has lost interest in following the projects because of frequent ‘promise and fail’ by the government. “For many years now, these projects have been surfacing. I don’t have confidence in those things anymore, until they complete them. Mr. Tony Chiezie, Anambra resident, told this paper that the only place federal government projects in the list were making progress was on paper. “I can only agree about the progress claims when it is completed. It is not only starting them and abandoning them half way. Once they are started and completed, then we can believe what they are saying. The slow pace of work at the projects is a source of worry to all stakeholders, including me”, he said. When Orient Daily sampled views of some commercial drivers in Anambra state, some of them expressed anger over the deplorable state of the roads, especially the Enugu-Onitsha expressway. Drivers plying the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha route complained that failed portion of the expressway had continued to damage their vehicles. Mr. Ifeanyi Omegu, a driver with STAR SUNNY Transport Company described as ‘pure wickedness’, the refusal of the federal government to fix the failed session of the roads. According to him, frequent navigation of the Awkuzu Junction to Umunya failed section of the road had not only leads to constant damages to vehicles but also makes the journey very stressful and more expensive. “The truth is that Awka-Onitsha transport fare would have been cheaper than we presently charge passengers but we have to charge it to be able to cover our expenses. Most drivers spend much of the money they make daily on the route on repairing their cars. We also pay toll to pass through the bypass at Nteje which many motorists follow nowadays because of the bad section of the expressway. Mr. Ifeanyi Agbado, another driver of the Ekwulobia Urban Mass Transit, who discredits the claim by the federal government on making progress on road projects, however, disclosed that every time rain fall in that area, transporters usually avoid it because no bus could survive the quicksand. According to him, government should make haste to fix the road because the deplorable state of the road does not only affect Anambra residents but the entire country. “Government should consider the importance of that road to the entire country”, he adds.