The killing fields called South-East roads – By Michael Onyebuchi

Two weeks ago, my wife and I travelled down to the East via the Asaba Airport (That one is story for another day) en-route Arochukwu, my home town.

We passed the night with my brother and his family in Asaba. The following morning, we left Asaba by 8am through Onitsha to Arochukwu.

Our journey was quite smooth between Asaba and Nnewi town although we went through a rough patch as we negotiated our way towards the Onitsha – Owerri road. The trip from Asaba to Nnewi took approximately 30 minutes. It was from Otolo Nnewi, a community in Nnewi town that the nightmare began.

From Otolo, Nnewi to Aro Ndizuogu – Okigwe took us four hours to negotiate. For those of us who do not know this area, this is a stretch of road that is less than 100km or thereabout. This road is an inter-state road that links Anambra to Imo State.

It connects Nnewi, Ideato, Aro Ndizuogu and Okigwe. I have never seen anything like that road in my life. This road was worse than a nightmare, it is not a road. I do not think any road in Igboland during the civil war years looked any inch like it.

After surviving the torture called Nnewi to Okigwe, it was another horror for us to drive from Ohafia to Arochukwu.

From Ohafia to Arochukwu in Abia State is about 50km or less, but it took us two and half hours to travel between that distance because of the state of the road.

On our way back, we had to go through Enugu because we could not afford the luxury of the torment we went through the Nnewi – Okigwe road.

To my utmost surprise, the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway, or so they call it, is a death trap killing and maiming people, with fallen trucks and broken down vehicles all over the place. I think it would be better called ‘Express death’ instead. We also became victims of it because one of our break pipes got severed while trying to avoid a deep gully. Sadly, as those who have plied the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway have revealed, that one is not better either.

What is really going on in the South-East? What are the state governors doing? I know they might have started grading some of these roads by now so that when their state citizens return home for the yuletide celebrations they will say our governors are ‘working’.

Why can’t they fix the roads in Igboland? It is a big shame, in fact very embarrassing that one cannot travel smoothly within the South – East region.

No road between Anambra and Imo state, none between Imo and Abia, none between Imo and Enugu and none between Enugu and Anambra State. I am not even talking of the far-flung Ebonyi State.

The sad thing is you will hear they are all Federal roads. Please who are the people commuting on these roads? It is the citizens of these states. Every day we talk about what the Nigerian government is doing to the Igbos, how we are been marginalised, no one talks about the injustice we perpetrate against ourselves.

How can we have these kinds of roads and yet talk about regional integration, economic and socio-cultural development? Obviously, the state of infrastructure especially roads in Igboland is an indication of the leadership crisis in the region.

It is about time our so-called leaders stepped up to the plate. Our town unions and various interest groups who are always portraying themselves as the representatives of the people should take a close look at themselves and hide their faces in shame.

You cannot be representing a people whose roads are death traps and every day you are on the pages of newspapers and televisions making noise.

A word they say is enough for the wise.

Michael Onyebuchi

Arochukwu,

Abia State

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