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Thursday, July 25, 2024

“China Projects”: Another School Block Built By Okorocha Collapses – By Barr Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu Esq



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Imo Littered With Unused and Substandard Elephant Projects
There is pandemonium in Sen. Anayo Rochas Okorocha’s constituency as another set of classrooms built by him during his tenure as Governor suddenly collapses. This disastrous event took place, when a school block consisting of four classrooms, staff room and a restroom gave way and crashed, in a Primary School known as Arondizuogu Community School 2, Amazu-Ikpakaputa, Ideato North LGA. Fortunately,  no life was reported to be lost in the process.
This sad event occurred after four auditoria in the Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Campus of Imo State University, also built by Sen. Okorocha, collapsed in similar circumstances, barely a month ago. The Honourable Commissioner for Education, Prof. (Noble Lady) Viola Adaku Onwuliri, had during her visit to evaluate the extent of the damage done by the fallen structure, thanked God for not allowing any life to be lost in the accident. The Commissioner  had observed that the building may have collapsed due to the poor quality of work and inferior materials used for it’s construction.
Furthermore, she said she had also noticed that the building had neither pillars nor German floor, and that blocks used were made of more sand than cement. However, she had assured staff and students at the campus that Gov. Emeka Ihedioha would salvage the situation by requesting the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) to conduct integrity tests on all the buildings in the campus. In order to guide the Government in taking necessary steps to remedy the situation and to safeguard the lives of staff, students and everyone using the facility.
This is not the first, and may probably not be the last structure built by Sen. Okorocha that would collapse in a twinkle of an eye. One part of the First Inland bridge, also built by Okorocha’s administration to connect Wetheral Road to Nekede, had caved in a couple of months ago. Making the bridge a death trap for road users who in order to avoid the usual traffic gridlock at the Nekede bridge head by West End roundabout, are being compelled to take the risk of using it to crossover to Nekede.
Of note too, is the sudden collapse, of the artificial rock and water fall constructed by Okorocha’s administration at the Freedom Square. We can’t fail to mention the major structural defects noticed on the Concord junction tunnel, the Orji and Akwakuma Flyovers, etc, which had prompted the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) to warn Imolites to stop making use of them. Due to the fact that most of the structures built by Okorocha’s administration, such as the bridges, tunnels and and buildings were found to be substandard and failed integrity test for professional engineering.
The roads in Imo State are not left out. It is a public fact that no single road constructed by the immediate past administration has remained motorable till date. Majority of the roads have been eaten up by gully erosion, while the rest are dotted with potholes which has made movement within the State, agonizing. Today it takes a commuter 2 hours to travel from Owerri to Mbaise, a journey which ordinarily should take less than 45 minutes. Vehicle users in Imo State can rightly attest to the fact that the frequency of their visit to the mechanic hit it’s all time high within the last few years.
Recently, the Federal Government announced that it wouldn’t be refunding the Imo State Government hundreds of millions spent by Okorocha’s administration for the construction of the Sam Mbakwe cargo airport. Their decision was predicated on the fact that the construction didn’t meet the Federal Government’s specification for such projects. This is a polite way of saying the construction is substandard.
Again, it is certain that the Federal Government may not also refund the over N10bn frittered away by Okorocha’s government in the construction of the new Police and Prison Headquarters, Port-Harcourt road, Owerri. This is in addition to the fact that the Police and Prison Authorities have developed cold feet at making use of the facilities which reportedly poses a high risk due to it’s substandard construction. How about the multi-billion Naira State High Complex abandoned by the Judiciary for similar reasons?
Apparently,  Imo State has lost the over N 30bn expended on these projects, which obviously were not priorities in a State where workers were paid 70% of their salaries and pensioners owed several years in arrears. There seems to be no end to the retinue of expensive, but unused buildings constructed by the immediate past administration. Based on the foregoing, it has become crystal clear that  the immediate past administration may have squandered the over 1 trillion Naira that accrued to the State in 8 years of it’s existence,  including the over  N200bn debt burden it left behind. Even the blind can attest to the fact that there is  absolutely nothing on ground to show that such monies were recieved and even expended on the State.
Indeed Imolites are at the receiving end of this monumental and disastrous economic wastage. Today the government is almost crippled and they masses under anguish as they are grappling with how to rebuild all that Okorocha’s government destroyed, while still servicing the over N200bn unprecedented debt burden, hanging on the State. This is truly a very difficult task. While it is good and just for the people to call for immediate changes to the horrible situation they are being forced to go through, they must also take into consideration the precarious economic condition of the State, triggered by the fiscal recklessness of the immediate past administration.
This necessarily calls for patience. Any aggression channelled against this government owing to the profligacy of Okorocha’s administration, is nothing more but a misplaced aggression. Therefore, the people must patiently support the Rebuild Imo Government of Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha to recover all that were looted, and to gradually rebuild what was  destroyed in the last 8 years.
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