By Paul Nwosu
The erosion horror at Oba town on the Onitsha-Owerri highway is an emergency that demands urgent attention by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
There is the yawning danger of the major part of Southeast and South-South being cut off. The Onitsha-Owerri Road erosion is a matter of dire national attention. All stakeholders must stand up to be counted in tackling the menace.
The strategic importance of the road as the only link between the Southeast and South-south makes it imperative that a solution must be found fast. If the road is not fixed quickly, the essence of the newly commissioned Second Niger Bridge will be hardly optimized.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) should step in as a hands-on leader to stop the looming disaster. He should immediately see it as a priority project. As Anambra State is on the verge of being cut off from a substantial swathe of the Easter Region of our country, it is incumbent on the Federal Government to put the machinery in motion for instant repair work. The intervention work demands immediate attention as a good number of vehicles have ended up in the the gully while private residences and factories on the periphery are seriously threatened by the speedily progressive landslide.
This cannot be left to linger for any moment longer. The entire road must not be allowed to cave in tragically. It’s a Federal Highway. The disaster zone in Ọba, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State is an open sore that has since been cordoned off from vehicular traffic and the general public. The strategic intervention work by Anambra State Government to forestall the progression needs a buy-in by the Federal Ministry of Works.
The chief of staff to Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Ernest Ezeajughi, has visited the disaster zone in the company of the Commissioner for Works, Ifeanyi Okoma, his Environment counterpart, Felix Odimegwu and other top government officials. They reiterated the need for concerted action to rein in what may become a catastrophic disaster. Mr. Ezeajughi called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on erosion menace in Anambra State.
According to Ezeajughi, “We have over a thousand active erosion sites in Anambra State. This is just one of them. We are acting on emergency because the Onitsha-Owerri Road at Oba erosion wash-off is a major devastation. We are not waiting for the Federal Government, even though it ought to be their responsibility.”
He stressed that the people bearing the hardship are Ndị-Anambra, and as such, Anambra State government is embarking on intervention to arrest the situation before other measures are taken.
The Commissioner for Works, Okoma, stated that on Sunday evening when he got a report of the washout on the road, his team from the Ministry visited the location on Wednesday and saw the major erosion and mudslide at kilometre 8 + 100 Onitsha-Owerri Road. The Commissioner revealed that the progression was high which required engaging a contractor to stop the progression.
He added: “We are in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and they are already on it. But it will be a long process. Since we don’t have an option, we moved a contractor that will continue with the second objective, to stop further mudslides.”
Being an emergency situation, no formal contract has been awarded for the work. This will be done pending the approval of the Federal Government. President Tinubu needs to quickly step in to win the coveted title of “Action President”.
- Paul Nwosu is commissioner for Information Anambra State