By Austine Uche Ejeke
Just back from a working tour of the South-east and I can tell you things are getting better than the last time I undertook such trip.
The roads are getting better with some level of construction works here and there. The stretch from Sagamu to Ore is still very bad but from Ore down to Benin is relatively good. So is Benin down to Onitsha. Also, from Onitsha to Owerri is good to go but from Owerri down to Aba is not all that cherry, although there is skeletal commencement of dualization of Owerri – Aba Road!
Serious construction work has been done on Enugu – Port Harcourt Road. In fact, from Umuahia to Osisioma Aba is almost done with some kilometres to round off the work. That Road use to be a nightmare and shame to this country!
The Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Arochukwu Road has gotten a face lift. This is courtesy of APC strong man and former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu. Investigations carried out indicate that Orji Uzor Kalu construction company SLOK won the contract to carry out palliative work on the road and I must confess it’s looking a bit better than what we had last year!
The big sign posts of SLOK are conspicuously scattered along the road to announce their presence! So next time you see or hear Orji Uzor Kalu killing himself in campaign for president Buhari second term know very well that he is not doing it for nothing! And, of course, the road leads to my native land Isuikwuato and Orji Uzor Kalu country home Igbere!
In Owerri town the notorious Douglas Road being a major link road to Aba, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Calabar and other important cities and towns is still in a very terrible state. Huge heaps of refuse have virtually taken over this all-important gateway. Traders of different genre brazenly display their wares at the road making it near impossible for motorists to drive along! It will be recalled that Governor Rochas Okorocha tried to dismantle the market and traders on the road last year and this resulted in the killing of one young boy!
The much hyped Second Niger Bridge was not in the picture of ongoing construction work as I did not cite any serious work going on the Bridge!
The people of South-East are still suffering from fuel scarcity and exorbitant fuel price. All through our trip from Lagos fuel was purchased at the regulated price of N145 per litre. Even up to Benin, it was the same amount with less stress and Queue! In fact, in Benin it took us less than five minutes to purchase fuel at N143 per litre! But on stepping into Delta state it was gory pictures of long Queues and fuel selling at between N150 and N200. In Aba fuel is sold at N195 and N200. In Umuahia residents buy fuel at N200 and above!
On electricity and power supply, there is slight improvement as people now enjoy longer hours of power supply. This was attested by a cross section of people interviewed. For instance, in the popular Shopping Centre, Aba where clothing materials are sold traders in the market said they have Uninterrupted power supply from an independent supplier. Each shop in the market pay N200 for electricity per day!! So, artisans like tailors now have a field day plying their trade happily without power interruption!
Even in the village rural dwellers are now enjoying longer hours of power supply. I witnessed this on the few days I stayed in the village.
The security situation is relatively peaceful as there were no major incidents of armed robbery, kidnappings and killings unlike what we had before. In a place like Aba, Owerri, Umuahia there are no more Okada operations! While Keke Marwa operators close by 7pm in Aba but in Owerri Keke Marwa operators are totally outlawed.
In place of it is a new Taxi scheme codenamed Taximo. Preliminary investigation revealed that operators of the taxi were former Keke drivers who now took the cabs on hire purchase arrangements of paying N1 million for each of the taxi!
In all, it can be said it’s not yet Uhuru for the good people of the South-east but it could be better.
Austine Uche Ejeke, publisher and editor-in-chief, AGENDA Community newspaper and public Affairs Analyst wrote vide email@example.com
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