By Saby Elemba, in Owerri
- 64 roads of 153.64 km completed
- Frown at fed min of works, FERMA lackadaisical performance in Imo
The second phase of the roads construction revolution in Imo State is set to commence as plans to kick start the projects have been unfolded, this second phase of 100 kilometre road revolution cuts across the 27 local government areas of the state.
The second phase of roads revolution is significant to the state due to its strategic location to the five Southeastern states, and Owerri, its capital, is centrally located among the major Southeast cities of Umuahia, Aba, Onitsha, Enugu as well as Port Harcourt, Elele, among others. The roads revolution will scale up commercial activities in the state as there will be commercial lorries visiting the state.
It is also important to numerous subsistence and commercial farmers who are located in the remote towns and hinterlands of the state for them to have access roads to convey their agricultural products to the cities for sale and make gains.
In addition, those who deal in agricultural products from other Southeast states are often seen coming into Imo rural towns and hinterlands to purchase their wares to take back to their places where they will resell them. So, the rehabilitation of the rural roads will not only enhance their movements, but attract more buyers for the agriculture products producers.
Raph Nwosu, the Imo State commissioner for works who said these in a recent interview with journalists, noted that each of the local government councils would benefit with five kilometres roads from the projects, noting that efforts will be intensified to tackle ecological disasters in the flood prone areas adjacent the roads to save houses from being submerged whenever it rains.
Nwosu said that the state government had already completed a total of 64 roads measuring 153.64 km. He said that while 43 road projects measuring 357.40 km are on-going, the Ihiagwa/Nekede road leading to the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) would soon be completed along with the bridge being constructed there.
He recalled that the defunct Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency (IRROMA) which existed during the time of the former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim, will soon be brought back to rejig and add impetus to the state government’s rural roads construction revolution.
This would also help to stem the tide of flooding arising from downpours in some villages, communities and the hinterlands, the commissioner noted.
Nwosu frowned seriously at the lackadaisical performance of both the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Federal Ministry of Works in Imo State, saying that it was as a result of their poor performance that the state government took the bull by the horns to handle the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of some federal roads in the state to alleviate the transportation difficulties of the people as well as enable proper vehicular movements of goods and services from the rural communities to the urban towns and vice versa.
“Honestly, FERMA and the Federal Ministry of Works have not been fair to us in this state otherwise we will not be at a place like Mgbidi where I come from working on federal roads,” he lamented.
On the decision to dredge the Oguta Lake /Orashi River, Nwosu justified the reasons for government’s decision to dredge the Orashi River into a sea port, saying that it would not only create jobs for the youths, but also check insecurity with the presence of a Naval Base there and link the state to the international community but said, the project would be by Private Public Partnership (PPP).
The commissioner said that while many companies had indicated interest to partner with the state government in the execution of the project, a number of individuals had also shown interest for the same reason.
He acknowledged the growing traffic congestion within the Owerri capital city, the blocking of gutters and drainages with refuse by some misguided individuals and assured that flyovers would be constructed at strategic places in Owerri.
“We still have much to achieve and we are now on a higher qualitative stage on road construction and rehabilitation. We are doing this through efficient and judicious management of available resources.”
But he declined to disclose how much the state government has invested in road construction, which he said is public knowledge.