Abia Economy Suffers due to Poor State of Federal Roads, Says Ikpeazu

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Emmanuel Ugwu

Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has called on contractors handling the rehabilitation of federal roads in the state to quicken the pace of work as the poor state of the roads was already doing harm to the Abia economy.

He vowed that he would intervene to save the situation if the contractors failed to live up to expectation. The governor lamented the harm which the dilapidated federal road network was doing to the economy of Abia, vowing that he would intervene to save the situation.

Speaking at an interactive session with journalists at Umuahia, the governor noted that it was becoming increasingly difficult for business and commerce to flourish as it used to between Abia and it’s neighbouring states due to the very poor state of interstate roads.

Abia shares boundaries with seven states, namely Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Rivers Akwa Ibom and Cross River and is connected to its neighbours by network of federal roads that are all in state of disrepair.

Ikpeazu, who expressed his frustration with some of the contractors engaged by the federal government to fix the roads, said that his patience was running out.

He warned that if the contractors failed to change their lackadaisical attitude and return to site he would have no alternative than to take over the rehabilitation of the already awarded federal roads.

Governor Ikpeazu stated that his past efforts to rehabilitate federal roads in the state were frustrated with litigations by contractors and nonchalant attitude of the relevant federal ministry.

Citing the federal road that links the NNPC Depot at Osisioma to Owerrinta in Isiala Ngwa South local government through to Port Harcourt, Ikpeazu said that he had commenced the reconstruction of the road but the federal authorities halted the project.

According to him, his administration embarked on reconstruction of the NNPC Depot road because of its strategic importance and had awarded the contract at a cost 50 per cent lower than what the federal government awarded the same contract.

“The contractor had already done the drainage and the first three kilometre of the road was to be constructed with rigid pavement (cement) technology but the federal government came and chased the contractor away,” Ikpeazu lamented.

He said that after “we wrote” the federal ministry of works to allow his administration to continue with the road rehabilitation they replied that the contract had already been awarded and there was nothing else to do.

However the Abia chief executive vowed that he would take over the rehabilitation of the strategic federal roads if the contractors failed to return to work in the next five days.

“Whether I get refund or not (from FG) is immaterial,” he said, adding that “what is important is the economic survival of Abia people whose livelihoods depend on the state of the federal roads”.

On the Enyimba Economic City, Governor Ikpeazu noted that its rapid implementation was being adversely affected by the unstable political climate of the country.

Alluding to the violence that attended the #EndSARS protest Ikpeazu said that “the things we see in the political firmament is very scary”, adding that “burning of businesses can’t encourage investors”.

He pointed out that if the investment of a local investor is not safe at Aba, for instance, it would be foolhardy to expect a foreign investor to rush down with his investment portfolio.

“It is practically in our hands to create the stable environment to attract investors,” Ikpeazu advised.