Gov Ikpeazu and his kinetic Agalaba Ring Road – By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

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When the residents Agalaba constituency in Obingwa Local Government Area of Area State were ratttled from their sleep by the buzzing of bulldozers early last year, they did not envisage that the highly celebrated Agalaba Ring Road would come to fruition such early.
The continuous felling of trees and shrubs by the bulldozers, the piling of red earth, laying of stones and asphalting of the once dilapidated roads came in quick succession.

What equally could constitute or add to one of the wonders of the earth is the speed by which the characterised by deep gullies, valleys and rough edges were made plain and smooth. Were the scriptures to be replicated here, ” every valley was made plain, and the mountains brought low, the rough ways made smooth”.

Recently, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu in his kinetic projects mode commissioned the first phase of the Agalaba Ring Road. One glowing tribute expressed by the governor in that occasion was the conduct of the youths in the course of the construction of the project. No construction worker was harassed nor construction equipment tampered.

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This is a strong indication that security has been strictly restored to the state, especially Obingwa which was before the emergence of Gov Ikpeazu a flash point.

The benefits of the Ring road to the residents of the five wards constituting Agalaba constituency cannot be overemphasized. These communities are predominantly peopled by farmers who need unfettered access to the nearest city, Aba to sell their produce. With the ring road, the difficulty previously faced by these communities in accessing markets is a thing of the past.

To compliment his efforts to offer these helpless farmers lifeline, Gov. Ikpeazu has undertaken critical interventions on the once highly dilapidated Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road. The craters and gullies that once litter major spots on the road are now gone.

Aba- Ikot-Ekpene Road is strategic to the economy of Abia State. The road links Aba, the economic heartbeat of the state to Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers State and extends to the neighbouring Central African country, Cameroon. Traders from these neighbouring states form bulk of the businessmen that patronise various businesses in the commercial city.

It will be recalled that previous efforts in addressing the perennial dilapidation on Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road failed woefully. The road project was reportedly awarded in 2009 to Brent Investment Ltd, by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration at the cost of N2.9 billion with a completion period of 20 months. The contract was meant to reconstruct the failed section of the highway. It has been alleged that inadequate budgetary provisions in the past years has been responsible for the delay and the gradual failure of the road hampering economic activities in the commercial city of Aba and other cities in the Southeast. For example, the federal government did not make budgetary provisions for Aba-Ikot Ekpene road in 2013 budget, and so the contractor did not do much in terms of coverage and project completion. Also, the 2014 budget which was tagged all inclusive with a provision of N120 billion for the Federal Ministry of Works for capital projects could not proffer the solution.

The deplorable state of the road was exerting serious negative impact both on the Abia economy and citizens of Aba, especially those communities located on the fringes of this federal highway such as Alaoji, Ntigha, Umuafukwu, Ohanze, Umuokpo, and Onicha Ngwa, just to mention but few.

These communities are mostly agrarian communities and depend, to a greater extent, their farm produce for a living. For these communities to access Aba, which is their nearest commercial city, is akin to the proverbial “camel passing through the eye of the needle”. For them to access the town, they swim like amphibians and engage in a more tortuous odyssey than that of the “Magi” in T.S Elliot’s “The Journey of Magi”.

Also, sometimes ago, an AfDB team accompanied by another team from the Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja had on the spot assessments of the road .The inspection tour offered them the opportunity of first-hand information of the level of decay of the roads and the trauma and suffering of the residents and travellers in and around the road. AfDB did a technical analysis and studies of the roads before releasing funds for repairs of the road. The visit offered new hopes that the road would be fixed but to no avail.

With the construction of Agalaba Ring Road and the rehabilitation of Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road, a Daniel has come to judgement in Gov.Ikpeazu. That is why when his second term winds up on May 2023, his Agalaba (Obingwa East) kinsmen will not be in a hurry to forget his reign.

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