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Gov. Otti ups effort to return Aba’s lost glory

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Gov. Otti ups effort to return Aba's lost glory

The Abia state government, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, took another giant stride to open-up access roads into the hinterlands of Aba to stimulate evacuation of produce to urban centres, when it flagged-off the 3.5 kilometer-Osisioma-Ekeakpara road, which leads into the one-time famous Osisioma Industrial layout as well as neighbouring communities and states.

The road, which hosts many factories, commercial banks, shops, a housing estate and conglomerates, including the NNPC deport, and the recently inaugurated Geometric Power station, Osisioma-Ngwa Local Government Area headquarters and others, also provides an alternative access to Port Harcourt, Owerri and Onitsha.

The earlier landmark achievements by the Otti-led administration were the rehabilitation of the 67.5km Umuahia- Uzuakoli-Abiriba-Ohafia and the 15km Ozu-Abam- Ndi-Okerekereke-Arochukwu roads, which lead into food producing areas of the state.

It is, however, sad to note that these two roads, which connect Cross Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Ebonyi states as well as a route to the Cameroon, were abandoned by the previous administrations of Abia and Nigeria since after the end Nigeria/Biafra civil war in 1970.

However, to ensure durability of the Osisioma-Ekeakpara road, Abia state Commissioner for Works, Engr. Otumchere Oti, has said that the road will have an overlaying concrete pavement , with a 50mm thick asphalted concrete wearing course, re-inforced concrete drains on both sides of the road.

On completion, the road, as per the specifications, will have a surface run-off directed through a 2km long drainage system as well as streetlights, to illuminate the entire length of the road.

The project is expected to be completed within one year.

Speaking while flagging-off from the Osisioma –end of the Ekeakpara road, state governor, Dr. Alex Otti gave his words that because of the importance of the road, “any form of compromise in the execution of this project, shall be severely punished. This road is one of the strategies to find a new route to Port Harcourt, Rivers State”.

He described the gesture as a continuation of the consistent efforts of his administration to restore the old glory of Aba, the Enyimba city, after decades of ruin, “orchestrated by willful neglect, crass irresponsibility and a pathetic failure to appreciate the full significance of Aba to the economic health of the State, the country and the West African sub-region.”

He recalled that for decades, Aba, mentioned anywhere in the world, was synonymous with trade, commerce, industry and more.

Going down memory lane, Otti declared: “Aba transformed the economic destinies and fortunes of many individuals and communities. In good and bad times, Aba also provided safe and fertile accommodation to multimillionaires and billionaires as well as gave hope to the thousands who started with nothing.

“The deterioration of the last two decades and a half has been nothing but heart-breaking,” he said.

“This Osisioma-Ekeakpara Road is symbolic of Aba’s glory of old. Leading to several industrial addresses that made this city thick in the 1980s and early 1990s, the collapse of this road also marked the beginning of Aba’s decline as the industrialists, movers- and- shakers of the economy of the city, began to relocate with great reluctance, but ultimately in pursuit of their business- interests because capital, as every businessman knows, only goes where it is rewarded.

“Regrettably, when the businessmen and women left to other places, the entire Osisioma Industrial stretch became a shadow of its former self. Thousands became jobless and battled with poverty, and the frustration it brings, including resort to criminality and other social vices.

“Indeed, the collapse of the big businesses that once thrived along this Osisioma- Ekeakpara corridor meant more than just job and financial losses for the employees, the investors; and even multinationals. It also meant loss of faith in the promises of Aba by those who came to this city in search of means of livelihood. Our graduates, rather than return to Aba to contribute to the growth of the city of their birth, looked farther afield, disconnected completely from their childhood dreams.

“Nevertheless, a survey round the area has it that since the news went out that work shall commence on this road, a new sense of optimism has returned with increase in the volume of business activities around the axis, in the number of people clamoring to set -up shops along this corridor and the steep rise in properties located along the road.”

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According to the governor, “in about 12 months time, when this road project is completed, I estimate that this would become one of the busiest roads in Aba; as the big trucks and logistics vehicles are being expected to return to the city. The sharp rise in vehicular movement has been anticipated and factored into the road design.”

In the words of the governor, “ To demonstrate the importance attached to this road, I have mandated the Commissioner for Works and his team to be strict in their supervisory responsibility. They are also to ensure that nothing short of the highest standards of materials are used at every stage of the reconstruction process. Any form of compromise shall be punished severely.

“This road will serve many users, including those going to other major cities like Owerri and Onitsha. The reconstruction reconstruction of this Ekeakpara road is part of our strategic agenda to create many access roads into, and out of Aba, ease traffic congestions and expand the windows of economic opportunities for those looking to invest in the promises of the New Abia. In Aba also, you find a teeming mass of self-driven, skilled and energetic workforce. When you produce in Aba, you are guaranteed access to national, regional and international markets through land, sea and air.

“Our dream in the medium- to – long term, is to make Aba the industrial and manufacturing hub of this part of the world. This city offers something you don’t find very often: reliable power supply following the commissioning and stabilisation of the Geometric independent generation, transmission and distribution power company. We believe that things would continue to get better, and when much of the teething problems are finally resolved, power supply for household and industrial activities shall be taken for granted within the Aba ring-fenced area.

“ With the resumption of services along the Aba-Port Harcourt railway route, the on-going reconstruction of the Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway, Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road and several other infrastructural development projects within the region, I have no doubt in my mind that Aba’s future is indeed promising. ”

The governor charged host communities and those doing businesses along that stretch of road to make this restoration project complete.

“You must be prepared to do their part as citizens, landlords and business owners. They are also encouraged to pay their taxes and other statutory fees, as at when due, because they are obliged to do so as a good citizen; and most importantly, to support government’s shared dream of rebuilding this city,” he said.

” Not only those. They must take the cleanliness of the environment very seriously. The Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) shall continue to receive all the support it needs to promptly evacuate household and industrial wastes. But as citizens, we must be at the forefront of the sanitation efforts.

“Again, as the rains are coming and residents are likely to face the poor habit of emptying their household refuse and wastes into the drains. Rather, residents are all encouraged to refrain from littering the environment by putting all wastes into Dustbins. Government has made it a charge that dumping refuse heaps on the drainage channels, and any other action that could threaten the free flow of rainwater will no longer be tolerated.

“On security, residents are also requested to cooperate with the security agencies to fish- out criminals and all whose actions threaten the peace of the town, just as government says it has sent a clear message to the leadership of the security agencies against the extortion of men and women, especially transporters. Has also gone ahead to set up a robust system to fish out culprits, irrespective of the uniforms they wear.”

Adding his voice, the state commissioner for Works, Engr. Otumchere Oti assured of timely completion of the road project.

He promised that the Ministry of Works will provide thorough supervision and adherence to specifications, while appealing to members of the public to cooperate with the construction firm and avoid activities that would undermine government efforts.

In his remarks the member representing Osisiom-Ngwa state constituency in Abia House of assembly, Mr. Fine Ahuama and LGA Chairmanof Osisiom-Ngwa LGA, Mr. Chinecherem Nweke thanked the governor for embarching on the rehabilitation of the road, saying that the Osisioma-Ekeakpara road is of great economic importance to the Aba business community as the area houses many industries.

Meanwhile, a Lagos-based businessman, seen on site, Chief Clinton Elochukwu, expressed confidence in Abia government as well as joy in government’s efforts to rehabilitate that all- important road , saying that he has completed plans to re-locate his Industry and family to Aba, following the zeal and efforts the present administration in Abia is putting on-ground to see that Aba returns to its past glory.

He also gave the hope of increasing the production capacity of his products as well as employ youths from the area, when his factory commences full production by October this year.

 

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