COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED ON THE 15TH NOVEMBER, 2017, BY THE ABIA STATE ONLINE MEDIA PRACTITIONERS AT THE END OF A ONE-DAY TOUR OF PROJECTS IN ABA CURRENTLY BEING HANDLED BY THE ABIA STATE GOVERNOR, DR. OKEZIE IKPEAZU PHD
Abia Online Media Practitioners is the umbrella body of all Abia indigenous online media personnel and we have a strong presence both at home and at the diaspora. We are major stakeholders and we form a solid constituency in the information dissemination channels of the state. The body is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring we reflect the desires of the people and communicate same to the relevant authorities. We serve as intermediary between the state government, other relevant bodies and the indigenes of Abia.
Our tour of various projects in Abia State which held between 8:44am and 4:50pm on 28th October, 2017 has led to the issuance of the listed points captured below:
1. We the members of the above-named association have toured Aba and some of the concluded/ongoing projects by the Abia state Government under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
2. During the tour, the association observed the dilapidated infrastructure in Aba and saw the need for a well thought development plan geared towards speedy reconstruction of infrastructures in Aba based on its place as the commercial hub and IGR base of Abia State.
3. The association deems it necessary that the State government creates a policy in which a defined allocation of Abia State’s income is channeled towards rebuilding and reconstruction of Aba.
4. Given the urgent need for infrastructural development in the commercial town; the association noted that the government is not doing enough to alleviate the suffering of the inhabitants of the city. We only observed reconstruction/rehabilitation work going on at Osisioma fly-over, MCC Road, and Faulks Road and the projects are slow paced. We also saw some completed road reconstruction work at Ehere, Umuola, Kamalu, Ochefu, Ibadan/Emejiaka and Tonimas. From our observation, the works done so far appear to be of good quality.
5. Going by the public opinion of Aba residents, the government should ensure that all the projects being executed must be of high quality in line with international best practices as to avoid previous experiences of failed roads few months after rehabilitation/reconstruction.
6. Based on the information we gathered, projects being handled by the state government are financially starved, thereby increasingly making life unbearable for the people. We therefore advise, that the government should maintain adequate funding of contractors handling various projects in Aba to ensure that such projects are completed as at when due to reduce the inconveniences such projects have caused the people.
7. We observed some projects have either been abandoned or the contractors lack capacity to handle them. For example, the Aba Owerri road which was awarded since the inception of this government has not been completed and the contractor was not seen on site. However, during our interaction with the governor on 10th November 2017, he informed us that another contractor has been engaged to speed up reconstruction of Aba Owerri road, and we can confirm that work has resumed on the site.
We advise that the state government revokes the agreement with other contractors who do not have capacity to execute projects on time (even when they are well-funded).
We also advise that efforts should be intensified towards the completion of the ongoing projects to ease the flow of vehicular movement especially as there are heightened activities at the end of the year.
8. The association appreciates the idea behind the Osisioma interchange, but has observed that people living and doing business around that area are suffering from flooding due to the construction that is ongoing.
We therefore advise that the state government and the contractors handling the project look for ways to reduce the negative impact of the construction by making sure flooded roads are rehabilitated especially the road leading to Osisioma Local Government Headquarters.
Reacting to our questions of the slow pace of the work, Governor Ikpeazu said that the delay of the construction of the Osisioma flyover is partly due to the number of pillars required and the depth of the columns. He explained that while the depths for Columns for fly-over in other neighboring states are 12 feet’s into the ground, Osisioma is 24 feet deep. He further assured us that within few weeks, all the expected pillars will be fixed and the work will progress.
9. Another issue of great importance observed during the tour is the deplorable condition of Ariaria International market. The Abia State government must be appreciated for their effort at trying to reconstruct Faulks road which is the major road leading to the market, but the slow pace of the reconstruction is adversely affecting business activities in the market.
Most parts of the market are suffering from flooding which may not be completely the fault of this present government. However, some traders we spoke to expect the present administration to provide a workable solution to this recurring issue of flooding in the market in line with the last electioneering campaign promise.
The government must as a matter of urgency look into this and rectify the flooding issue deeply affecting Ariaria international market.
Reacting to our questions, the governor said that series of efforts have been made by his administration to reconstruct Ariaria Market in phases, but for no visible reason, the traders have refused to comply. He gave examples of a South African firm and Nigerian firm who were interested in reconstructing the market in partnership with the state government, but the move was vehemently opposed by the traders.
10. Another issue troubling the association is the issue of maintenance of constructed Roads. During our tour, we observed especially along faulks road that the newly constructed drainage system was already been heaped with refuse, the roads were gradually been taken over by sand which will slowly start breaking down the roads.
As a matter of policy, the state government should set up a structure or empower ASEPA to take care of cleaning the roads, drainage system and run campaigns against dumping refuse in the drainage system. The government should also implement some penalty for those dumping refuse in the drainage system and those who litter the streets of Aba.
If other states like Cross River State and Akwa Ibom state can do it, we can do it too.
11. It has become very expedient, that we draw the attention of the State government to Ngwa road, Ohanku road and other areas in Aba that need urgent attention. These roads are in total state of disrepair and abandonment.
12. Port Harcourt Road, Urratta Road and most of the connecting roads in the area are completely impassable, making traders and commuters to spend as much as N1000 instead of N100 to reach the Spare Parts market at Ala-oji from the city centre.
The Governor however said that the State Government has recently released N2b to Setraco for the reconstruction of Port Harcourt road in Aba. We hope that work will commence immediately on the road to ease the suffering of the masses.
13. We also visited the much talked about Ifeobara underground flood channel. From our observation, work is at advanced stages. The flood channel and the rehabilitation of Faulks Road projects, being handled by the Setraco Construction Ltd, is meant to take storm water from Faulks road and adjoining streets as well as the Ukwa-Mango area to the Aba River via the Ifeobara Basin.
14. Finally, as an association, we want to appreciate the State government for its effort so far, but we implore that they do more in order to make Abia stand in its rightful place.
DATED THIS 15TH DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2017
Emenike Ireogbu Emeh James Anyalekwa
Governor, Abia State,
Deputy Governor, Abia State,
Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, Abia State,
Commissioner of Information, Abia State
All Political Parties, Abia State
All Media Houses