Residents Cry Out Over Abandoned Borokiri-Okirika Road
BOROKIRI is an important area in oil-rich Port Harcourt. It is situated at the southern part of the old Government Reservation Area (GRA) and is bordered by Ahoada Street, Okirika Island and Aboturu Creek. It houses residential, commercial and recreational buildings.
Regrettably, there is only one route to the area. The road, which would have served as an alternative, is the Borokiri-Okirika road but it has long been abandoned. Residents had expected the state government to re-visit the project when it began massive construction and reconstruction of road projects across the state. Their expectation, however, failed, as the 2015 appropriation bill did not make provision for it.
Though the state emphasized that the year’s budget was aimed at completing ongoing projects, Borokiri road might have missed out, following concerns that Okirikans might accuse the government of demolishing their ancestral homes. And the state government, on its part, is being careful about issues bothering on demolition, especially, as elections are around the corner.
It has been argued that if the Borokiri road were completed, it would have boosted economic activities between riverine and upland communities. With just one route to the area, it is very difficult for people to come into Borokiri, as a lot of man-hours are lost trying to access the area.
The area plays host to the Nigerian Navy Secondary School, tourist beach, ship builders’ companies and markets, especially Kirikiri market. The Kirikiri market is a major hub, as people travel to it from Aba, Onitsha, Bayelsa and other neighbouring states to transact businesses. The huge influx of people to the area, the blooming commercial activities and the availability of just one route add up to create a traffic nightmare.
The Guardian gathered that Borokiri road was awarded to Zerock Construction Limited. Work was expected to be completed in 130 weeks. Four years after the contract was awarded, however, the project has not attained 40 per cent completion.
A resident in the area, Emeka Idika, expressed displeasure on the deplorable state of the road. “It is so sad that such a key road is abandoned,” he said. “Apart from its commercial importance, the road would have served as a palliative to people living in Port Harcourt Old Township, Borokiri and Agreey, among others. If that road were completed, the people would have had two roads. But presently, we have only one route to Borokiri, and that is terrible. It is very difficult for people to come into Borokiri, especially during peak hours. The man-hours lost on that road are quite huge. There is perennial traffic gridlock in the area daily.”
Idika argued that if the state government considers the area as critical to economy enhancement, it would have given priority attention to its development as it did other parts of the state. He noted that government would make so much money from taxes, as a result of the enormous commercial activities in the area.
Another resident, Mrs. Eunice Udoh, recalled that Governor Chibuike Amaechi raised hopes last year when he visited victims of the burnt New Layout Market and said he would repair the road before he leaves office in 2015. She lamented that since the governor’s visit, there have been no changes yet.
“We are really suffering in this part of the city. So, I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the state government. I know it has a very short time to remain in office. But he should come to the aid of people in Borokiri. We will appreciate it because he has not done much in this area,” she said.
A worker with the state’s Ministry of Information said: “If you manage to come out from Borokiri in three hours time, you would praise God. But the next disturbing thought is how to go back home. If you have an appointment by 9am, you have to leave your house two hours earlier. Ironically, this is a journey of just five minutes to town. At evenings, most vehicles refuse to go to Borokiri. The situation is very worrisome. Government should listen to our cries.”
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