Barely a year after the start of the rehabilitation and expansion of the Oyigbo-Afam road by the Chief Administration of Nyesom Wike, locals have urged the contractor to complete the project quickly.
The project extends from the Afam-Oyigbo junction in Oyigbo town to the main town of Afam, where the Afam power station and the state-owned cassava processing plant are located. It covers over five kilometers of road which connects remote villages like Obete and Azuogu which borders the Imo River in the local government area.
Prior to the current road expansion effort, the road was in such disrepair that residents had to seek alternative routes from neighboring villages to access their communities. From Umu Soya Junction to Mini Nwanyi, the road is filled with craters and potholes that could engulf tricycles and other smaller vehicles plying the road.
To alleviate the suffering of the residents, the Governor, after a visit to the area last year, awarded the road rehabilitation contract to LuBriks Construction. Without hesitation, the indigenous construction company was mobilized to the site and work began.
The first remedies were provided by the construction company to fill in the bad sections of the road, in particular between the Umo Soya and Kom-Kom railway axis where deep craters make it difficult for vehicles to pass. The sewerage works paved the way for the construction of much larger drainage on both sides of the road to curb the floods that are devouring the road.
On a recent road trip by The Tide Metro to the area, residents say construction is slow as the rainy season picks up steam after a few weeks of vacation in August. From Market Road to Afam Junction, although construction is still in progress, the road is filled with mud and debris, associated with a roadside market that overflows from the main Oyigbo market on the road.
Afam Road resident David Cosmos told The Tide Metro they hoped the project would be completed before the end of the current administration. “We thank Governor Wike for remembering us, but work is still slow and the rains are back.”
Cosmos said the road is of huge economic and social importance to the people of Oyigbo as it is the main access to the council headquarters at Okoloma in Afam.
He lamented that the repair work carried out by the construction company to help vehicles cross had broken down due to the rains and that there was a need to speed up the pace of work before the end of the year.
“Most businesses are badly affected,” Cosmos said, “the mud is such that people have to walk beside it, even vehicles struggle to cross.”
According to surveys, many residents living along the Afam-Oyigbo road have moved inland, while some have moved to Port Harcourt. The Tidal Metro further learned that although the condition of the road has contributed to the situation, the area also has no electricity or drinking water.
In addition to the lack of basic amenities, the cost of rent has also gone down in the area as a bedroom now costs N3,000 per month, while a one bedroom apartment costs between N70,000-100,000 per month. year. Many of those living in the area buy water from houses that have a borehole, and a bucket of water is sold for N20.
Lamenting the dwindling business fortunes at his computer store, Chidiebere Iheanyichuku said, “Besides the poor road conditions, the lack of electricity aggravates the situation as the store runs a backup power plant. “Without electricity, we cannot do business and we spend more to buy fuel at a high price.”
Most of the shops along the road have been abandoned due to flooding and lack of electricity. The Tide Metro was informed that the area had been cut off from power supply for the past two years. The store’s rent is now N120,000 a year despite the situation.
Iheanyichuku said commercial car operators doubled their fares by paying N100 compared to N50 from the junction to the Kom-Kom market. He therefore called on the government to force contractors back to work to reduce their plight.
Along the market road, street vendors spill onto the road and with the rains, the road is muddy and dirty, making it difficult for vehicles to navigate. On either side of the road, food vendors and second-hand clothing merchants adorn the pedestrian walkway.
Blessing Charles, who sells vegetables, told The Tide Metro they pay tickets to be allocated space on the side of the road. “They have a community ticket, a local government ticket and a task force here and we pay them before they allow us to sell.”
Ms. Charles expressed concern about the ongoing drainage works along the road. “There’s not a day that a customer or trader doesn’t fall into this drain,” she said, “please let the contractor do something to cover it.”
In the same vein, Chuwuebuka Nwadike, who sells food, pleaded for the drainage to be completed quickly to avoid accidents, “as you can see the drainage is deep and if you fall inside , there’s no way you won’t be hurt.”
Nwadike told The Tide Metro that the market has no amenities and is responsible for the dirt in the market. “We need electricity, water, but the most important thing for us is the road. If they complete the road, we would be happy,” he said.
By: Kevin Nengia