Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
There was a mild drama Saturday in Aba, Abia State commercial city, as the Minister of Works, Engineer David Umahi, ordered the arrest of street traders on the completed section of the Enugu Port Harcourt Expressway.
The Minister who was on inspection of the on-going project, was enraged that the traders showed no respect for the new road but spread their wares and carried on with their businesses.
He promptly directed the security agents attached to his motorcade to immediately arrest the erring traders.
The visibly angered former Ebonyi Governor expressed disappointment over the activities of the traders, insisting that they will be prosecuted.
“It appears the people here like to inflict injuries on themselves.
“They can’t even allow the contractor to work.”
The Minister also expressed bitterness that some road users in the commercial city drive against traffic.
“They drive against traffic. They use the completed road for parks, trading and dumping of refuse.
“The whole of Aba refuse is being dumped on this road. It is not encouraging at all.
“I will advise the governor to set up a task force here.
“We wouldn’t like after the Federal Government had spent so much here we see people building and trading on the road.
“So, the only way out for this work to be completed is for the governor to set up a task force and clear the road.
“The citizens of this country will need to do their bit, while leadership also does its bit. That is the only way it will work.”
Senator Umahi, further expressed worry that while President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is making efforts to move Nigeria out of the woods some individuals are busy frustrating his efforts.
“While Mr President is passing through sleepless nights on how to solve the problems of a very bad inherited economy, Nigerians should support him and also support themselves.”
He, however, expressed satisfaction with the quality of job executed by the contractor handling the project.
Umahi said high cost of construction materials was responsible for the delays in delivering the project awarded about 10 years ago.
“When I came on board in August 2023, bitumen was N500,000 per ton, but today it’s about N1.3 million.
“That is why we are asking, can we go for concrete that is almost about 95 per cent sourced locally?”
In a brief remark earlier, the Federal Controller of Works in Abia, Tony Onwubiko, said that the project covered about 57km from Abia Tower in Umuahia to the Railway Crossing at Alaoji in Osisioma Local Government Area.
He solicited the cooperation of the people with the contractor for the job to be well executed.