From Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
When they started some years ago, they began as small potholes on the expressway. But soon they degenerated into large craters. Today most of them are deep enough to swallow two or three trucks.
This is an apt description of the Abia portion of the Enugu-Port Hacourt expressway, particularly the Ohuhu area of Abia State.
Thus as the rains are about to set in, the residents of these areas are already apprehensive about what would happen should the contractors working on the road fail to get to their area.
Again, the situation of the road such that lives and property are lost almost every day to accidents, armed robbers and other undesirable elements.
The communities around the badly affected areas like Ofeme, where the Minister of Trade and Investment , Dr Enyinnaya Enelama, hails from; Umuagu where Eze John Amaghereonu Ezeoma, a renowned Consulting Environmental Civil Engineer is traditional ruler, and Umudiawa Kingdom, the home state of business mogul, who is now pastor and traditional ruler of his people, Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu, are daily lamenting over the deplorable state of the road.
Eze Ofoegbu decried the state of the road and called on the Federal authorities to come to the aid of the motorists to ensure that more lives are not lost on the road.
The traditional ruler described as unfortunate a situation where his subjects see terrible sights of lost of human lives in accidents and robbery.
“Sometimes victims of such occurrences would run into the community to be assisted and you can imagine if you are the one in that condition what you would do,” Ofoegbu queried.
A community leader, Chief Sunday Nwankwo, from Umungasi in Umuhu Autonomous Community, who spoke to Oriental News also made a clarion call that the authorities concerned should do something fast before the rains come back.
According to him, the portion of the road would be completely cut off if the rains return without anything done.
Speaking to Oriental News in his palace at Umuagu, Eze Eezeoma, who said that his community is located at the worst affected area of the road, decried the wanton destruction of lives and property along the road.
Ezeoma, a civil engineer said:
“My community is located on the very bad portion of the Enugu-Port Harcourt express road, between kilometers 120 to 128. That potion is the worst part of that stretch of road. It’s unfortunate that lives and property are lost daily. You hardly come out to that stretch of road any day without finding one form of accident or the other.
“It is extremely difficult to pass through the stretch of road, at a particular time, it was so bad that very heavy traffic on that road had to divert into the villages, creating further problem for the community, spoiling the very little village roads that we then had.
“But thank God for the dry season that has made the express fairly usable, otherwise I think, even the community road, that they use as a diversion would have been unusable now, it is heartbreaking, it is sad, people are suffering, cars are breaking down and sometimes, lives are lost, we are not happy at all about it.
“Speaking from professional point of view, I think the major problem on the stretch of this road between Okigwe and a little after Umuahia, even up to Aba is the underlying clay soil. The best thing to do is to remove that soil because it is difficult to found anything on top of the very difficult clay we have around here and expect that structure to stand. I am aware that the Federal Ministry of Works has sound highway engineers that know what to do, to stabilize clay soil, remove it and replace it.
“They know what to do. I think that the thing is the political will to do the right thing because there is a lot of difference between road construction in the South and road construction in the North because the weather they have there is different, the volume of rain they have here is different from what they have up North. And so when any particular road is being done, you put into cognizance the environment where that road is going to be found.
I have discovered while walking along that road that most of these portions of that road have water collecting on the road, before you know it, they peculate into the soil, weaken the underlying soil and these trucks are very heavy, when they pass through it, the thing is destroyed. So my opinion is that a good road must be properly drained, no matter how well you do a road, the moment you don’t drain it and put water where it belongs to weaken the soil and you come back to have something worst than what you had initially. So when these things are done, one good cognizance of the nature of the soil is to study the soil, do appropriate stabilization, drain the roads, I think we have good roads, especially down South here.”