Motorists and youths in Onicha-Ugbo community in Aniocha North local council and Ogbekenu village of Delta State have protested against the dilapidated condition of the Abuja-Onicha-Ugbo road, constructed over 12 years ago by the Niger Delta Development Company (NDDC), which has now failed.
The youths, during the mass protest, blamed the NNDC for alleged ineptitude and gross irresponsibility. They demanded quick action on the road before the rainy season sets in.
The present state of the road has become a burden to residents of Onicha-Ugbo, which has in recent times triggered multiple erosions in the community.
One of the protesters, Laurence Izuegbu, said: “This road is a death trap and has become a burden to my community. I am so pained and would like the Federal Government and the agency responsible for the maintenance of this road to act fast before we record a colossal damage.
“We have been crying out when the road was not as bad as this. We were not taken serious. However, we can’t take this anymore. We are prepared to go on a protest march to Abuja because the state of the road is affecting our houses and crops. How can you construct a major highway like this without proper drainage?”
A commercial bus driver travelling to Abuja said: “We have been suffering this for a long time. At times, we spend three days travelling to Abuja because of the state of this road. We want the government to take action because this is the shortest route to Abuja, Auchi and Okene.”
According to one of the chiefs in the town, it is the shortest access way from Southeast and South-South to Abuja and the North. “It links Onitsha Benin City Expressway at Onicha Ugbo junction with Idumuje Ugboko, Ewohimi, Ekpoma, Ubiaja, Irrua, Auchi to Abuja and beyond.
“There is a kilometre stretch of road in Ogbekenu Onicha Ugbo passing in front of Emeka’s house that has failed continuously since it was built by NDDC over 10 years ago. Even Dr Kachikwu and Ned Nwoko have tried to repair it. NDDC has a zero per cent track record in maintaining anything they build, the chief who preferred not to be named stated.
According to him, the road keeps being seriously damaged by hundreds of Dangote and BUA cement trailers, luxurious buses and other heavy vehicles passing through it daily.
The damaged area, he said, is so deep in some parts that it routinely swallows a whole Dangote Cement trailer during the rainy season.
His words: “It is this road that has transformed Onicha Ugbo into an important junction town bubbling with commercial activities. The State and local councils do not want to intervene because of the deep-set corruption at NDDC.
“There is always the fear that if the road is repaired by anyone other than NDDC, that the corrupt officials there would award themselves an identical contract to repair the road and pocket the funds. The conundrum here is that it is near impossible to get NDDC to do the needful, hence, the intense frustration being displayed by Onicha-Ugbo and Idumuje-Ugboko youths.”
Onicha-Ugbo is a town with five villages, with over 30,000 inhabitants in Aniocha North Local Government Area,Delta State, Nigeria. The town’s traditional ruler is the Obi of Onicha-Ugbo; Agbogidi Victor Chukwumalieze 1.