Bad roads are increasingly becoming the operational zones of criminals, particularly armed bandits. This is true of the Lokoja – Okene – Auchi – Benin road.
This is a federal road that links most parts of the South south and some parts of Southeast. It is also the fastest link between Southeast, South south and Kogi State to FCT and other parts of the North.
However, the roads have for a long time been left in a deplorable state, attracting armed bandits who subject motorists still plying the route to harrowing experiences.
Some motorists have called it a national disgrace, saying such busy and important roads should not be left to deteriorate without adequate maintenance.
A business man who plies Onitsha – Abuja through these roads, Uzor Eze, notes that the highway needs drainage systems to allow water flow.
Contracts for rehabilitating and fixing the Abuja- Lokoja – Auchi- Benin road was signed by then President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006. After President Obasanjo left the stage, late President Musa Yar’Adua pursued the completion of the road with commitments until his last home call.
When President Jonathan took over, he keyed into the project to see to its eventual completion before leaving office.
However, in the last six years, nothing has been done. With the present deplorable condition of the road, economic activities along that route has been slowed down.
Some motorists who spoke on the quality of work done so far on the road, decry its non conformity with the standards expected of a road set to handle heavy volume of traffic after completion. Many motorists are complaining that the Okene by-pass in Kogi State has already failed.
A commuter from Auchi, Joseph Audu, while speaking with me in Lokoja at NATACO bus stop, stressed that it’s a herculean task traveling on Lokoja – Okene – Benin road, saying the federal government should show they have the love of the governed at heart.
Another commuter, Chinedu Obinna opined that it’s not everybody that can afford the air fares and railway services used as alternative to highways. It is important that the issue of road repairs and construction across the country is taken seriously if accidents are to be avoided.
The volume of traffic through Onitsha and Benin on the express way through Auchi to Lokoja, is more or less a death trap.
A transporter on Benin – Auchi road, Uche Chimezie, said presently that fixing the road takes a backseat in the South, but is always made a priority if it’s for the North, adding that since Abuja – Lokoja – Okene – Auchi – Benin road contract was awarded in 2006, and continued to be reviewed, Abuja – Kaduna highways have been rehabilitated three times.