Youths, others protest bad condition of Enugu-Onitsha expressway
CHAOS was yesterday averted by the intervention of Anambra State Commissioner for Transport, Mr Uchenna Okafor, as students and youths including drivers of minibuses in Awka, blocked the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, protesting the deplorable condition of the road, trapping hundreds of road users in a queue for over an hour.
The shutdown of the road at the Ikenga Junction, Awka, was organised by a group known as Recover Nigeria Project (RNP).
The state’s Commissioner for Transport, Mr Uchenna Okafor, on arrival at the scene, pleaded with the protesters to vacate the road and allow free flow of traffic, pledging to take their grievances to the state governor.
Okafor however, expressed displeasure that the group did not complain or sought an audience with the governor of the state before embarking on the exercise reminded them that the road in question was a federal road but assured that the state would do a palliative work on it.
Coordinator of Recover Nigeria Project, Mr Osita Obi, said the group decided to embark on the protest to call the attention of the government to the plight of road users, because of the numerous bad spots which had become a death trap.
“This is just a small portion, which will not take 50 bags of cement, some stones and workers to fix, but it has remained like this for years, and uncountable numbers of people have lost their lives at this spot.
“The governor uses this road; senators and top politicians from Anambra and beyond and even religious leaders all use this road, yet they pretend not to see the challenge this road has been having.
“Just yesterday, I was almost hit by an articulated vehicle here; several accidents have happened here within the week. We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch this happen.
“We have given the state and federal governments 72 hours to immediately commence work on the failed portions of this road; failure to heed to this, we will return and there will be a total shutdown”
Also speaking, the Chairman Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Chapter, Steve Ubaro, who also mobilised his members to the protest said a professor of the university was last week involved in an accident at the spot while returning from work.
The leader of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Mr Okolie Ikechukwu, said that a student who also drives a shuttle bus was recently involved in an accident at the spot, causing him to lose an ear.
Ikechukwu noted that within the week, no fewer than five auto accidents had been witnessed on the road, and because it was a regular route for students of the university, NANS decided to join in the protest.