Eleme Road: Shame Of A Nation

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Notwithstanding the spirited efforts of the Rivers State Government,  in partnership with some corporate organisations such as Port Harcourt Refining Company, Indorama and INTELs, to rehabilitate the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road, it is saddening that the road has  degenerated to a disastrous state, leading to the collapse of the Ekulu River Bridge in Eleme. No thanks to the criminal neglect by the Federal Government.
As a result, human and vehicular movements have been halted, while the rural economy of surrounding communities and commercial activities of operating firms in the area have been paralysed. More pathetic is the bloodcurdling reports that the road has claimed not less than three lives in the last two weeks. This has continued to provoke protests by Eleme youths.
In the same vein, petroleum tanker drivers, under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has declared an indefinite strike to protest the sorry and tragic state of the road. NUPENG said that except the Federal Government finds lasting solution to the dilapidated road, tanker drivers will continue with the industrial action.
NUPENG’s Zonal Chairman, Comrade Charles Alete, affirmed that members of the union, especially tanker drivers, would not continue to risk their lives plying the collapsed bridge and other bad sections of the road until the road is put back to proper shape.
The Tide shares the pain of tanker drivers and other users of the bad road. But we are more worried that the on going strike by the tanker drivers may lead to another round of fuel crisis in the state. Already, users of petroleum products have started panic buying in the face of imminent fuel scarcity.
The Tide notes that the deplorable state of the Eleme-Akpajo-Onne Road is another clear evidence of neglect of a State that hosts many federal agencies and multi-national corporations. It is also a vindication of the Rivers State Government’s position that the state is being marginalised by the Federal Government.
We recall that successive administrations in the state have cried out to the Federal Government over the poor conditions of the road with little or no efforts by the central authorities to finding a lasting solution to it.
We also recall that the Rivers State Government has severally intervened by rehabilitating, or in some cases, reconstructed several federal roads in the state. Regretably, such gestures are never appreciated by the Federal Government, nor the funds expended on such projects refunded to the state. This, to us, is gross abdication of the Federal Government’s responsibility to the State. It is condemnable and therefore, unacceptable.
It is, indeed, shameful that the Federal Government which reaps so much revenue from economic activities in the area will wait for a strike or disaster before it acts.
While The Tide calls on the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility, we, however, appeal to the state government to quickly intervene by averting a situation that could further endanger the lives of the citizenry as well as jeopardise the economy of the state. The state government should, therefore, direct the companies operating in the area to effect remedial measures to avert such disasters.
Similarly, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), as an interventionist organ, should also live up to its statutory obligations by replicating what it did in the Itu-Calabar Road project at the Eleme-Akpajo-Onne axis of the East-West Road.
While temporary measures are put in place to ensure the usage of the road by motorists, especially tanker drivers, we believe that permanent solution remains the only viable option to end the perennial agonies motorists face on the road. The Federal Government  should not, therefore, shy away from this responsibility.
Meanwhile, The Tide appeals to tanker drivers and Eleme youths to exercise some restraints while relevant authorities do the needful to restore sanity along the road.