Dr Monday Ubani, former second national vice president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari about leaving the rundown Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road after a widely reported award of N13, 296,283,958.68 contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of the Umuahia / Ikwuano / Ikot-Ekpene road by the Federal Ministry of Works.
In a letter dated October 1, 2021 and addressed to Buhari, Ubani, a human rights lawyer, complained that people have suffered enough from unpleasant road conditions.
His letter came in the wake of recent protests from students at Michael Okpara University, Umudike, in the state of Abia, asking the government to repair the deplorable Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene federal road which many have linked to the alleged death of a 500 student of the institute’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Miss Chidinma Ogbonna, who was killed instantly after being hit by a trailer driver.
A copy of the letter was forwarded to the governor of the state of Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Senator T. A Orji, Hon Sam Onuigbo, Member of the House of Representatives representing the north / south federal constituency of Ikwuano / Umuahia and the director in charge of the road, Ministry of Works and Housing.
He said: “Despite our delight at the award, some of us have raised an early alarm regarding the contract due to the lack of detail in disclosing the terms of the contract. Does the contract provide for construction, dualization or just mere rehabilitation? That narrow road built during the colonial era now connects Abia to Akwa Ibom and Cross River state to Cameroon in West Africa and is frequently used by big trucks and other users for their commercial engagements. “
The NBA-SPIDEL President asked “Why will such an important road be left without dualization and proper reconstruction that has a good drainage system? How competent is the contractor managing the contract for the construction of the Umuahia (Ikwuano) / Ikot Ekpene road axis? The level and quality of the work done so far on Ikwuano leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
“The little drainage work done in some of the places in the Oboro area of the contract does not show that there is any good intention of doing a thorough job that will surely stand the test of time and be beneficial to road users. The quality is not only below standards, it is also absolutely poor. ”.
He appealed to President Buhari to provide for the release of funds for the continuation of the contract work on that road and to ensure the utmost vigilance on the quality of the works that are being carried out on that road that presents socio-economic advantages to the entire nation .
According to Ubani, “We believe that your government will not join with other governments that have failed to fix this very important road which is fundamental for the survival of the indigenous people of Ikwuano in the state of Abia.
“Excellency, we are shocked by this report of” No release of funds “. The question will be: why should a contract of such importance and scope be awarded without the intention of completing the project especially when the objective of the award has been made known to the whole world?
“Now, as I lay this piece down, sir, the road is in the worst condition ever, people suffer daily from commuting on that road. A journey of about 30 minutes now takes about 3 hours due to the terrible and unacceptable road conditions. Our joy has turned into pain as people are subjected to the most severe level of suffering on a daily basis as they go to or return from their daily work. The goal of providing carriage roads for people’s economic activities has been thwarted by the current turn of events ”.
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