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Commuters Decry Frequent Traffic Gridlock  along Onitsha-Owerri Expressway



By Praise Chinecherem

Commuters plying the Onitsha-Owerri Road, in Anambra State have raised the alarm over increasing traffic gridlock occasioned by deplorable condition of the road and extortion by security agencies along the highway.

They said the situation was worsened by potholes, refuses and flood which have apparently taken over the full lane, particularly at the Amanator axis, forcing all Upper-Iweka bound traffic to join the Owerri-bound section in order to proceed to their destination.

Our correspondent observed that the Metallurgical section through to the Amanator axis and off to Upper-Iweka, near the River Niger Bridge Head have become a write-off as they pose serious challenge for motorists.

According to Emeka Eze, a bus driver, commuters had been battling the development over the years, adding that several appeal for a palliative measure have always been unfruitful.

“Our problem is compounded by some touts who have taken over the responsibility of traffic wardens who are scarcely seen in “controlling” traffic and using the opportunity to extort motorists,” he said.

Chairman, Great Tippers Association of Nigeria, Anambra State Chapter, Nze Chukwuemeka Olekpe, lamented regular falling of trucks fall on the roads, describing it as nightmare.

He said over six people, including members of the association, had lost their lives, while many others were injured recently as a result of indiscriminate fallen trucks on the road.

Olekpe said, “This road has become a nightmare for us. Our vehicles fall on this road on a daily basis. As I speak to you now, we have lost over six persons in recent times as a result of fallen tankers.

“Last week alone, two of our lorries fell at the Aba Park because there is no coordination at that section. We have been begging government to, at least, offer palliative measures on this road and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“Trucks fall on this road on a daily basis and anyone that happened to be unfortunate at that moment, it falls on the person, it is so unfortunate what we are passing through on that road right now.

“Over the years, this road has become unmotorable right from the Upper Iweka axis to the Metallurgical section, it has become a death trap, now with the rains. Criminal activities have also been heightened. Travelling on that road has become a nightmare for us and we are calling on those concerned to look into our plight.”

A personnel from the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, Anambra State, who did not want her name mentioned, said every efforts by the agency to offer palliative measures on the road in the past had always been frustrated by hoodlums in the area.

“Just before the rainy season commenced, two trucks of gravel were poured at the Upper Iweka junction to be used in filling the potholes, but those touts did not allow the job to be effectively carried out,” she added.

Reacting, Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Adeoye Irelewuyi blamed the situation on traders who preferred displaying their wares along the road, as well as potholes at certain portions of the road.

He said, “Onitsha is a very particularly challenging situation in terms of traffic management especially in spots like the Bridge-head, Tomato Market, building materials, Tazzan,  Barracks areas, and Uga Junction.

“We tend to have regular obstruction to traffic flow in these areas and this is due to the activities of traders and the failed portions and potholes of the road in those areas.

“Apart from the activities of traders, there are some portions of the road that are contributing to the traffic challenge.

“We have made recommendations to the Federal Ministry of Works that we need to do something about this big potholes along that Onitsha road because they a causing serious traffic gridlocks.

“If they can have palliative work done there traffic will move freely. So we are engaging the ministry of Works on the possibility of getting it repaired. We recommended that they need to get it done before the Christmas season.

“The activities of the traders also is an issue. Vehicles bringing in goods park along the road to offload and sometimes, after offloading, they breakdown to start and go becomes a problem.

“So, we are appealing to the market executive to tell their people to shift away from the road or trade inside the market so that the vehicle can park on the laybys.

“Our next line of action is also to approach the local government and the Ministry of trade and Commerce so that we can work out a way if erecting barriers to barricade those traders from flowing into the expressway.

“Keke and shuttle also drop and pick passengers along the roads. We are handling that.”

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