The Arochukwu-Ohafia Road is a Federal road which runs from Ebem, Ohafia to Amuvi in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State. This road spanning 23 kilometres is a major link road and also covers the towns of Ihechiowa and Ututu as well as Abam and Isu communities.
This road was first constructed by Dr. Michael Okpara, the then Premier of the Eastern Region, with the intention of connecting the food producing areas within that area to Umuahia Province.
Under the Second Republic, the road was again rehabilitated. From that period up till the emergence of General Sani Abacha, the Arochukwu-Ohafia road was ignored by Federal Government, worse of all was that even with the intervention of the Abacha's Petroleum Trust Fund, the project did not experience any notable change owing to the winding down of PTF by the Obasanjo administration with work stopping at Egbem Ohafia. The reversion of the job from the PTF to the Federal Ministry of Works also did not seem to help matters.
However in 2012, it seemed that respite had come to mitigate the sorry plight of the people residing in these communities, with the awarding of the reconstruction of the road to an indigenous firm, this again proved to be a mirage as the local construction company could only achieve little, leaving the road worse than its previous state.
Recently, the Buhari administration again placed the reconstruction of the road as one of its capital projects. This news has been greeted with much hope and expectations, prompting Heroesreallife.com to visit the area and elicit opinions about the Federal Government's plans as well as help inform our readers about the plight of the people living within the area.
The effects of the poor state of the road on the local economy of these communities cannot be wished away. Farming, which is the mainstay of the people of this area is largely hampered by the inability of most farmers to move their produce seamlessly to other areas. The cost of transportation alone is alarming as most commercial vehicle owners largely choose not to ply the road and transfer the 'huge'costs of plying such bad roads to the farmer which in turn makes his produce more expensive by the time he gets to the market. This makes farming in such areas tasking and non lucrative.
Also the poor state of the road is said to be impacting negatively on the tourism potentials of that area, according to Mazi Isaac Okpara Onoh, the Ezeogo 13 of Agbagwu Village, the bad state of the road had seriously affected the attendance of a number of festivals by Aro people in diaspora, he stated this in line with the fact that over 200 communities all over the SouthEast region of Nigeria are linked to Arochukwu where these communities migrated from. This means that people from other areas would always find it difficult to celebrate with their kith and kin in Arochukwu.
Again, properties within such areas have low premium values attached to them, and for many, settling down within these areas is usually a last resort since commuting to other areas subjects them to several rigours that are largely unbearable. Even indigenes of these areas look to other areas outside these areas for accommodation.
Health wise, these people do not fare any better. With the communities lacking functional hospitals, a number of sick persons require movement to areas where they can receive treatment. Sadly, a number of these patients in the course of going for such treatment have died owing to further complications that may arise while trying to navigate the road, which normally takes three hours say from Arochukwu to Umuahia instead of one hour. Those who survive usually recount such survival as epic tales.
The dust from such areas particularly in the dry season is also capable of resulting into a number of respiratory diseases as well as may further compound a number of cases for those who suffer from known respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis.
It is to this end that residents within the area have commended the Buhari administration for approving the project, however, such commendations have come with some sort of caveat on the category of construction company that should be awarded the project.
The people believe that owing to the topography of the road, having suffered much neglect, that it is indeed necessary for the Federal Government to award the contract to firms with the technical ability to finish the road in due time.
Lamenting the inability of the former contractor to do justice to the job, a number of stakeholders who spoke to correspondents of Heroesoflife.com called on the Federal Government as well as the Federal Ministry of Works to ensure that the work was awarded to a competent firm.
Speaking to the blog, the Ezeogo of Ata Arochukwu , Mazi Charles Kanu Okoro, admonished the government to shun construction companies with poor technical capabilities in order to help the people of that area who he said have suffered for a period of 30 years. " Having witnessed this ugly situation for thirty years, we want to thank the Honourable Minister, President Buhari and our son Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa for identifying with this road, and coming to our rescue. We plead with Sen Mao to urge the President and Minister to give us a befitting contractor to repair the road. Looking at Arochukwu Ohafia road which is so bad having been seriously eroded, there is no need to allot the contract to passerby companies," he said.
Another traditional ruler, Mazi Thomas Okoroji noted that the people would be glad if the Federal Government shunned quack companies so that the sufferings of the people would be a thing of the past.
With such move, Heroesreallife.com will as a watchdog of our society continue to monitor the process of the road project with the mindset that the people living within these areas, surely deserve better.