By John Okiyi Kalu
On the 2nd of February 2017 Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola visited Abia State and pointedly declined to see the dilapidated PH road at Aba, on the excuse that the state government should reconstruct the “internal road”, but opted for Aba-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highway that had long ceased to exist as a road.
On that visit, with Governor Ikpeazu in tow, Minister Fashola introduced a contractor that the Federal Ministry of Works awarded the all important road to reconstruct.
My heart sank when I saw the contractor and his chakakpo equipment meant to reconstruct the major road that connects Abia State to Akwa Ibom and Cross River State from the commercial city of Aba.
I also noticed the body language and facial expressions of Governor Ikpeazu while he was “inspecting work” with the Minister. He was probably wondering, like me, why the road was not given to Julius Berger that worked on the AKS end of the road.
Since that day, Aba people have not seen the alawachara contractor or used any portion of the road reconstructed by him.
Only the contractor know where exactly he is, what he has done and the scope of the work awarded to him.
But all of us know that we are suffering greatly because of the terrible state of that road.
Though Governor Ikpeazu tried to construct a new road to bypass the bad federal road, all of us know that even if he builds an airport runway quality of road as bypass it will never be like fixing Aba-Ikot Ekpene Highway.
If you fix that federal road business will boom for our MSMEs and open a better corridor for them to service markets in AKS, CRS, Equatorial Guinea and Republic of Cameron.
I know for a fact that VP Osibanjo is passionate about growing MSMEs in Aba and has graciously moved to give flesh to his promise to support Ariaria international market with steady power supply. But if you do all that and yet the manufacturers have no outlet for their products it amounts to nothing.
I wish to personally call on Minister Fashola to urgently return to Abia State and see the mess his alawachara contractor is causing for him and the federal government.
In Abia State we have only 5 months dry season window for road construction and right now nothing substantial is happening along Aba-Ikot Ekpene Highway.
That is unacceptable to Abians.
If Minister Fashola can not change his alawachara contractor at least he should make the contractor do the work FMW mobilized him for. Our people are suffering and dying on that federal road.
Onweghi ihe anyi mere unu o.
It is disheartening that each time the federal government wants to do good in Abia State they opt for alawachara contractors for whatever reason.
All contracts awarded in Abia State by NDDC, known to me personally, are unproductive and failing because of their choice of contractors.
To worsen our situation, once they tie those roads up with a contract the state government can no longer intervene. That is why Ohanku and Obohia roads at Aba are now places where our people learn how to “jump and pass”.
O gini di?
Even the perennially bad Umuahia-Uzuakoli road was awarded by NDDC to another alawachara contractor that has moved from telling us that it was his personal act of philanthropy to saying “be happy with whatever I do after all I attracted the project”
If NDDC and the Federal Government don’t stop messing with Abia roads I can envisage a time in the near future that our people will forcefully send all NDDC and FGN contractors out of our state.
O ga eme uwa na anya.
NDDC in particular is not doing us a favor. Abia is an NDDC state and we contribute to the national resource pool with our oil.
Either you want to do good work for us or you do nothing and we continue to bear our pains. It is unacceptable to enter into all sorts of arrangements with alawachara contractors and turn round to tell us you spent N10b on roads in Abia State in 2017. Keep that money if you are not prepared to hire good contractors.
Only God knows how we have wronged NDDC and Federal Ministry of Works. Whatever be our sin, forgive us and give us good contractors that are equivalent to those you deployed in other NDDC states.
Don’t let come to become before you hear the voice from the wilderness.
John Okiyi Kalu is a Commissioner Designate in Abia State.