Imo communities cry out over neglect, economic hardship, abandoned roads

Residents of Obibiezena, Naze and Agbala communities all in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State have implored the Imo State and Federal governments to come to their aid over the deteriorating condition of their roads, saying the condition of the roads has stalled socio-economic growth of the area.

The residents of the community, who spoke to newsmen, said the only sin they committed was giving their ancestral lands free of charge for the Federal government to build and establish Anambra, Imo, River, Basin Development Authority, AIRBDA.

One of the residents who identified himself as Fabian Ayuba, from Umuogida Emeke Obibiezena Community said, “The roads which connect the federal establishment are death traps and we don’t know when the Federal establishment and Imo State Government will remember us in this town. This is a major road connecting the three communities to various villages.

He said the youths and women of the community would embark on a street protest to register their displeasure about the poor state of the road in seven days.

He regretted the dilapidated state of the roads and the challenges being faced by the residents as well as people visiting the community for one reason or the other.

In their separate remarks, Ekwebelam Prince, from Obibiezena community, Ogunka Christopher from Agbala community and Maduagwu Uchefrom Naze Community bemoaned the situation, pointing out that the federal establishment owns the host communities a social contract of at least grading the roads in these communities.

They said, “The current management of AIRBDA led by the Managing Director, Engr Gerald Osuagwu AIRBDA is the worst and most insensitive this establishment has had since inception.

“The head of this Federal Establishment finds pleasure in treating the welfare and developmental concerns of the people of these communities with intolerable arrogance and disdain.

“The people of these communities are no longer happy as moving from one point to another in their villages is now unbearable. Confronted by the present impassable conditions of their death-trap roads, the youths and their mothers are ready to say enough is enough”

According to report made available to our correspondent, the people are lamenting that their once beautiful road to the world from Obibiezena to Okpoala Naze and that of Agbala have been deadly taken over by devastating flood, owing to the fraudulent involvement of a government Agency located in the ancestral domains of these three communities. 

Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, AIRBDA, is a Federal government establishment that is hosted by these three communities. Peripheral investigation reveals that some times in 2022 or thereabouts, a road contract was awarded under the statutory watch of AIRBDA through the Ministry of Water Resources. 

AIRBDA was in direct supervision of the construction and rehabilitation of the roads linking Obibiezena to Okpoala Naze from the popular Aba/Owerri express road. These roads were in near good conditions and highly motorable before the beginning of the road construction and rehabilitation. 

Unconfirmed sources had alleged that AIRBDA through their corrupt management got involved quark contractors who used inferior materials and substandard products to build the roads without required drainage and other necessary facilities. The result of this bad and careless construction and rehabilitation of the roads was a terrible and fatal flooding of the entire communities by little rainfall, covering all compounds with dirty water with dangerous reptiles, finding their ways into the private rooms of residents.

Faced with this horrible sudden existential experience, the devastated people of these communities through their Town Unions visited the management of AIRBDA to lodge their complaints, demanding that the contractor should go back to correct the bad jobs on the roads. The management of AIRBDA promised to ensure the roads were put in good use. 

Few days after the visit, the unpatriotic contractor returned to the site and committed the worst in connivance with the management of AIRBDA, who treat the welfare and developmental concerns of the people of these communities with total disdain. 

Today, the roads are eyesores, depicting total negligence and intentional oppression of the defenseless people of these three host communities on their ancestral lands.

Other annoying findings have it that the present management of the AIRBDA under the current Managing Director, Engr Gerald Osuagwu appears to have committed the highest negligence to the host communities as a yet to be verified allegation has it that many plots of land given to the Federal government by these communities have been sold to private individuals by the present management of AIRBDA.

This makes the allegation very serious as the people never gave out their ancestral lands to be sold by the management of AIRBDA. 

From petitions previously written to the Managing Director of AIRBDA and made available to us, the leadership of the Town Unions of the communities had pleaded with AIRBDA management to keep to the SOCIAL CONTRACT of at least grading their roads for the rural dwellers, a little benefit they were enjoying before the advent of the present management. 

Asked what was the reason behind the blatant refusal of the Management to listen to their constant clarion calls, a source who does not want his name in print claimed that the unholy and unpatriotic relationship existing between the current Managing Director, Engr Gerald Osuagwu and the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Esther Didi is responsible for his indescribable arrogance and boastful pride.

As at moment, the total flood invading the communities, occasioned by heavy downpours and its attendant frustrations pervading the environment, is prompting near Uncontrollable despair and hot anger among the now uncomfortable residents of the communities. 

For these reasons, the youths and their mothers are clamouring for a protest never before witnessed in the history of this state.

From all indications, this protest will happen very soon with the capacity and aggression to attract the attention of the International community. 

However, the prompt intervention of relevant authorities, the Labour Union, Trade Union, Civil Society Organisations and the Media can mitigate heightened tensions and restore normalcy while the government investigates these weighty allegations against the Managing Director and management of AIRBDA with upmost sincerity and patriotism. 

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