– Anthony Oha
Nekede Old Road is one of the roads with high traffic in Owerri Metropolis. It leads to the popular Umualum Nekede community of Owerri West LGA and houses over 150,000 with 70% of the inhabitants being stranger elements.
The Old Road leads to the popular government establishments like the Imo Zoological Garden, Imo Agricultural Development agencies, the Imo Rubber Estate and the federal forestry reserve. Others are the newly approved Claretian University and the Claretian Seminary affiliated to Imo State University.
The road also leads to the Federal Polytechnic, Police Training School and the Federal University of Technology Owerri. The road stands out as a connecting link to Port Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha and crisscrosses linkages to Umuoma, Ihiagwa, New Owerri, World Bank and Avu/Obinze axis, etc.
It is an important trunk B road formerly known as ‘Old Douglas Road’ because of its historical stance to colonialism. Many governments in the time past have taken cognizance of the importance of the road but they have failed to give it the needed attention it deserved. The politicization of the road has not helped matters and the economic impacts have been low as a result.
Umualum Nekede is so much blessed but has been so much hated by the powers that be. Umualum Nekede could have been the new capital base of the state but that plan seems truncated by Governor Rochas Okorocha as a result of his distortion of the original master-plan of Owerri city. Even with his annexation of Nekede lands, Governor Rochas Okorocha never built alternative roads to Nekede as his contribution to the community’s development. But, the regret was that he grabbed Nekede lands in collaboration with some indigenes of the community.
It has always been the Nigerian tradition of watching things go very bad before attention is given. While many people have been crying out that the road should be repaired none has truly cried out that the erosion should be controlled. The problem is not in our stars but in ourselves. We need a change of approach to fix what has befallen us.
Now, Nekede Old Road is in a very bad shape coupled with a devastating erosion menace which needs immediate attention or the community will be cut off from the capital city. The erosion problem in that area before the Zoological Garden has been eating deep into the soil over the years but lack of attention has brought it to its present hellish state.
It was recently revealed that Governor Emeka Ihedioha, who held brief for seven months, awarded the contract for the seven-kilometre Nekede Old Road reconstruction without considering the rearing head of the erosion menace. The point remains that even if the road is re-awarded today by Governor Hope Uzodimma without first arresting the erosion it would be a futile venture.
What we need to do, before we are cut off, is to send high powered delegations to the governor to tell him about the erosion menace. The delegation should also urgently meet the Commissioner for Works and the commissioners for Agriculture and Tourism who have stakes on our road. Hon. Kanayo Onyemaechi, the Majority Leader and Owerri West Constituency Representative must be alerted. We are all aware of the Ecological Fund under the Federal Government. We must also draw the attention of Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya of the House of Representatives and Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi of the Senate to push for us on the ecological fund.
The case is now beyond histrionics. Nekede has been revealed as one of the communities that would have serious ecological disasters as a result of the sand dredging in the Otamiri river. This is the reason for most of the erosion problems the three communities suffer. We must eschew rancour and collectively push for the immediate arrest of the erosion. The other communities of Umuoma and Umudibia must be involved. Today, Umuoma and some parts of Umudibia depend on the Old Road to reach their destinations.
If we fail to act pronto; we will end up being cut off and we have sacrificed a lot to the state to be so treated or neglected. We can’t be in the river and soap bubbles will trouble our eyes.
This erosion must be immediately checked coupled with the needed rehabilitation of our dear Old Road Nekede.
Let’s walk the talk and work for our good.
9News Nigeria (Owerri)
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