By Valentine Nnamani (Bureau Chief, South East)
Worried by the state of some federal roads in total disrepair in some South East states, Izunwanne, a union of journalists of Southeast origin, has called on the governors of the Southeast states to urgently initiate rehabilitation or reconstruction work on federal and state highways in deplorable conditions in the region.
Izunwane said the action is necessary to prevent further wastage of lives and other harrowing experiences citizens encounter on those thoroughfares.
The Igbo editor's group however decried the life-threatening condition of federal roads in the zone and urged the governors to tackle the roads in place of the federal government which has apparently shown disinterest in the highways and the plight of the people.
Chairman of Izunwanne, Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu and Elder Ngwuoke Ngwuoke, secretary of the body, listed no fewer than eight federal roads that it urged the governors to take up as a regional challenge.
The roads include the Enugu-9th Mile Corner Ngwo highway, the 9th Mile Corner Ngwo-Nsukka road, the Amawbia-Ekwulobia-Akokwa-Orlu-Owerri road, the Okigwe-Owerri road, the Ihiala-Orlu-Anara-Umuahia road, the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road, the Umuahia-Aba-Obigbo road, the Okigwe-Nnewi-Oba road and many other federal roads in the zone.
IZUNWANNE believes the deplorable state of federal highways and many state roads across the zone are very suggestive of the insensitivity of the governments to the wellbeing of the people. It said that governments genuinely concerned about the fatal consequences of leaving the roads in their present states would have long addressed the issue and put the roads in the right conditions.
"Though some of the roads belong to the federal government and fall under the responsibility of that tier of government to maintain them, it is evident the citizens of these states make the most and greater use of the roads daily for their economic and social activities. It should have touched the hearts of the governors to take it as a priority to repair, rehabilitate or reconstruct the roads first and later seek for a refund.
"Chris Ngige, Peter Obi, and Sullivan Chime did this when they were governors and carried out repairs and reconstruction of some federal roads in their respective states for the benefit of the people. It is unfair for the state governments to close their eyes to the plight of their citizens by not carrying out intervention measures to keep the roads in good condition, for the sake of their people", IZUNWANNE stated.
The group described the Enugu-9th Mile Corner Ngwo section of the Enugu-Onitsha highway as a death trap and an embarrassment to all (Enugu State government and the people). It said the section should attract the priority attention of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. IZUNWANNE feels that the bad condition of the roads is a significant drawback to the development and growth of the South-East geopolitical zone.
"Our people are extremely mobile. They engage in industrial, economic, agricultural, and social activities in an unquantifiable magnitude. The absence of good roads is akin to passing a death sentence on the people", IZUNWANNE noted.
The group continued: "Our governors should not encourage the notion that they are wittingly encouraging and supporting calculated moves to cripple the forward movement of socio-economic activities in the zone. The people of the Southeast geopolitical zone have invested so much in the sustenance of democracy, and they deserve commensurate dividends of democracy".
IZUNWANNE wants the governors to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming dry season to demonstrate their commitment to good governance by embarking on massive rehabilitation, repairs or reconstruction of failed federal government roads and other roads in the zone for the benefit of the people who voted them into office. NNL.