Road users along the Mgbe-Akokwa axis of Imo State have stories of woe to tell, no thanks to the gully erosion that has claimed their once beautiful road and left them with nightmares. The erosion which has broken the Orlu-Obiohia-Akokwa-Uga federal highway in two, has also sent residents’ moving from the area, as parts of the road continues to collapse.
The depth of the erosion is well over six feet, hence any unfortunate entry into the ditch may amount to express death. Residents from Orlu and Ideato axis ply the road as a short cut to Onitsha, but this can no longer be so due to the erosion.
A businesswoman who deals in baby wears, Tochi Amadi, lamented that drivers have to take alternative routes, which does not come cheap. “We used to pay N1000 from Orlu to Onitsha but now it is about N3500 because of the many roads we go through, just to bypass that stretch of road.”
A commercial driver, simply called Phillip, says that alternate roads are time consuming, and plying them consumes more fuel. He also mentioned having to pay some young men who sometimes demand for a token to allow people drive through their community.
A leader in Akokwa Town Union, Chief Ignatius Onwuasoanya lamented that the situation has put a strain on road users.
He notes, “Our own community road, Ikpa Umuokpara Akokwa is even worse than the Mgbe-Akokwa road. NDDC told us they cannot come and fix our community road because of the latter. You can see how that road has deprived my own people of accessible roads.” According to him, people have to pass through Ntuoke-Nkwerre.
“To come to Owerri from my area, we go to Isiekenesi-Amaraku road, and I can tell you it is not pleasant, I pity pregnant women in transit. The stress is best described as hell.”
He blamed the bad roads caused by erosion on poor drainage system and development. “Everyone wants to build a house to show he is doing well, the implication is stress on the fragile land. Now it has caved in and fixing it is way beyond our capacity. Only government can fix this for us,” he said.
Meanwhile, there had been palliative road measures before by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) but that caved in, because it was a poor job.
The commissioner of Works, Imo, Chief Ralph Nwosu mentioned that the government has already reported to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Ecological Fund office.
He said, “Governor Hope Uzodimma personally submitted the letter to the SGF. It is a federal road and we must admit that the road is beyond palliative measures and beyond FERMA. We know it’s hectic but let us wait a little for the federal government to fix it permanently,” he stated.