Ibedaowei of Okpokuma Kingdom bemoans poor state of East-West road
His Majesty King Okpoitari Diongoli (Opuokun IV) has expressed displeasure over the poor state of the East-West Road in the Niger Delta Region. The king made this known in a brief article entitled: “The Shame Of A Nation – A Product of Lack of Vision Of An Insensitive And Morally Bankrupt Leadership” sent to Palace Watch:
“This is Opokuma junction in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Areas of the East-West road in Bayelsa State. This road is unarguably the live wire of Nigeria’s economic survival. That the East-West road is the busiest in the country is to state the obvious. The nation’s critical investments, especially in the oil and gas industry from which the country earns over 85 percent of its foreign exchange are situated in the Niger Delta Region for which this vital road is meant to connect. It, therefore, stands logic on its head why the Federal Government would leave such a vital road to fall into such deplorable and embarrassing situation.
“The pictures below were taken last Sunday, and apparently, most of these motorists would pass the night on this portion of the road. The Kolokuma/Opokuma axis is not the only section of the road begging for urgent attention. Last week Wednesday, on my way to Eket, Akwa Ibom State, for the 26th TROMPCON Conference, I spent over four hours along the Oil Mil-Akpajo-Eleme side of the same East-West road on a journey that ordinarily would have taken not more than 45 minutes.
“While in the gridlock in both instances, I lost count of the number of trucks loaded with 33000 litres of PMS and other trucks moving in and out of the refineries and seaports, as well as those serving oil facilities dotting the Niger Delta, trying to connect with other parts of the country. The implication is that the country is losing billions of Naira daily under this condition.
“On the individual level, the man-hour losses, mental and psychological torture suffered when trapped in the middle of nowhere can never be quantified. A situation like this is worsening the people’s health conditions, with varied health challenges, and results in missed opportunity for those who have one business or another to urgently attend to. The wear-and-tear on vehicles and the attendant high cost of their maintenance is another ball game altogether. The ripple effect of this ugly situation on the farmers with perishable products and the cost of doing petty trading in this part of the country can hardly be imagined.
“I am, therefore, appealing to government to do all within its powers to remedy this very ugly situation, which is having adverse effects on the nation’s economic well-being. To think that Federal Government makes yearly budgetary provisions for the rehabilitation or reconstruction of roads is even more disturbing. The natural question to ask is: What happened to all the funds appropriated for the purpose of road rehabilitation across the country over the years?
“I dare to ask: What are the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Federal Ministry of Works, FERMA, contractors handling the project; and even the multinational companies are doing to salvage the disgraceful situation of the East-West Road? Only recently, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced that the Federal Government has released over N1.3 trillion of the Capital budget from the 2017 Appropriation. If this is true, the Federal Government should do something urgent and concrete to spare Nigerians the embarrassing and harrowing experiences of plying this road. Now is the time to commence the immediate rehabilitation of the road.”