OPINION: Where Is Dr Okezie Ikpeazu’s Administration Headed? (Part2)
By Uche Aguoru
“Era of Dubai Roads in Aba, over” – Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu
This quote by the Governor of Abia State during the commissioning of Osusu Road in Aba, is not only symbolic but a statement of emphasis on the quality of the roads being done in Abia today under his administration.
The Ikpeazu administration upon assumption of office in 2015 has as part of his administrations 7 developmental pillars, outlined infrastructural development as key towards the pursuit of an enduring total economic rebirth.
He did not hide his resolve to tackle the economic and infrastructural backwardness of entire Abia state and Aba in particular, due to the strategic importance of Aba as the once industrial and commercial capital of west Africa.
But shortly after, the infrastructural revampment policy lost steam or seemingly so, resulting in critics and opposition members scoffingly dismissing the governor with the Phrase “Okwa Asi Na Nwa Aba Ga Aru Aba”.
My recent tour of Aba was primarily to have a firsthand assessment of the roads the governor has been constructing across the commercial city and other parts of the state and from my assessment, the energy and purpose which Gov. Ikpeazu is investing in reconstructing the roads in Aba and other parts of the state are worthy of commendation.
Driving into the town from Aba Owerri Road down to Umungasi, I saw an ongoing construction work, the first thing I gauged was the depth of the drainage knowing the topography of Aba as a city that sits on a flat plane.
I also know that the biggest challenge to roads in Aba is flooding and with the depth of the gutters as being constructed and the expertise the handlers are deploying, I have no doubt that the design of the road was done with intense hunger for quality, durability and excellence.
Navigating off Brass Junction straight to Ariaria was smooth. Growing up in Aba, the popular Ama Ikonne was a troublesome spot that defied every solution from the days of the military era. I can still recall vividly the day Ndi Aba had to pull the now retired Navy Capt. Temi Ejor, the then military administrator of Abia State, down from his vehicle to walk through the Ikonne River in his immaculate well ironed white navy uniform. I can also recall Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, as Governor of Abia State, reconstructing that portion of Faulks Road on two different occasions, but as soon as the rains came, same spot would fail immediately making it very difficult for motorists to access Ariaria market.
The myth then was that a mysterious “Mami-water” resided in that spot and that was the reason for the all year round flooding of that particular spot. But I was amazed that I couldn’t find the famous Ikonne River any more.
The last time I visited Osusu Road was in 2017, in company of my friend an ex-international who out of frustration sold a property he owned in Osusu at a very cheap rate and relocated his family to Lagos. We had to park our vehicle at Okigwe Road, boarded a keke that took us to Osusu Road by Faulks and trekked the remaining distance swimming through the mud with our trousers folded to the knee to hand the property over to the agent that eventually sold it at a cost far below what he bought it in 2002. But today I saw life return to Osusu Road, businesses are back, people are putting up new structures, children can now return to Osusu Road Primary School, and real estate is revived.
We made a drive through Eziukwu, but couldn’t connect Milverton from there because of the ongoing construction at that end of the road. We had to pass through Azikiwe to CPS to the Aba main park in order to get to Milverton. Just like Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Milverton Park is one of the busiest transit points in west Africa, full of people and activities, from the 70s down to the early 2000s, the park operated on 24 hours, 7 days a week round with all transport companies having operational base there.
Milverton park hosted all manner of direct and indirect employment, there were supermarkets and food vendors were busy serving hot and delicious food to travelers and others who had one business or the other within the park, round the clock. But all of a sudden, the famous Milverton park was shut down and all the businesses that returned millions of naira daily either died or relocated. The famous Ndafia supermarket, one of the foremost departmental shops and other businesses that the famous Milverton hosted, disappeared due to bad road and decayed infrastructure.
The gully that developed there could swallow a full Marcopolo bus rendering the entire Milverton impassable while most businesses the area hosted went into coma.
So, one can now understand my curiosity when I learnt that Dr. Ikpeazu has fixed Milverton and Osusu roads. I needed to see things myself; I had to connect the rest of the fully completed and ongoing road projects in Aba; I made out time to visit Ojike, Eziukwu, Ebenma St, Jerry Kalu Avenue and Egege Roads all completed.
I made attempt to drive to Ngwa Road through East Street but I couldn’t drive beyond Ngwa Road by East due to the construction work going on there that necessitated the blocking of that road. Under that hellish traffic and confusion, I had to struggle my way on foot to witness the construction going on in that axis. I beheld a massive drainage channel, the professionalism, the equipment and expertise the contractor handling that end was displaying is very encouraging.
Work is also going on at Obohia and Ohanku roads; the watershed management project which is intended to check the perennial flooding is going on at great speed.
Aba in recent times hadlve experienced quality infrastructural revolution especially in the area of roads as never been done before. And that is what an average Abian has been crying for!
The administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has been very intentional in its drive towards economic and infrastructural rejuvenation of the state. All an average Aba resident has asked for is sensitivity on the part of government and Dr. Ikpeazu has shown responsiveness through his works in recent times.
A lot of roads in Aba still need to be touched. Aba is designed in such a way that almost all the roads are interlinked and every road is as important as the other.
The men and officers of the Traffic and Indiscipline Management Agenccy of Abia State (TIMAAS) are doing a lot of great work to keep the town flowing even as construction works are going on in almost every part of the town. But it appears indiscipline resides in Aba; Aba residents need reorientation and character reformation. There should be strict approach to enforcement of discipline in the city.
A lot has been done, a lot is still being done, and a lot is still needs to be done by the Okezie Ikpeazu administration.
Just as leadership is a responsibility, citizenship is also a responsibility. It is in the interest of every one of us that Ikpeazu receives our support and encouragement to complete all the projects he has on-going and more.
If you must get Abia right, You must get Aba working,
The big question is, can Ikpeazu get Aba working again?
Writes From Umuahia
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author