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OTTI: Celebrating impending Julius Berger’s signature on Abia Roads – By Sam Okoro

Dr. Otti(left) with Julius Berger official

The visit to the Abia Governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti, by Dr. Lars Richter, the Managing Director of Julius Berger, a construction giant, on Wednesday, April 19, left many Abia residents already salivating for the real thing.

Richter was one of the early callers at the Umuehim Nvosi Isialangwa country home of the former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Diamond Bank Plc, soon after his declaration as the winner of the March 18 governorship poll. 

Although he had come to felicitate Otti on his landslide victory at the election, not a few Abia residents were excited by the historic visit that was seen to hold a strong promise for a state with a huge rot in its road infrastructure.

This is why many enthusiastic residents positively viewed the solidarity visit as the covert unveiling of Otti’s agenda on Abia roads as well as the revolution that is about to happen in that subsector.

The people’s appetite for Julius Berger’s signature on Abia roads was further whetted with Wednesday’s tour of the long-abandoned Port Harcourt Road in Aba, the economic hub of the state, by a team of engineers from the company.

The governor-elect met and had a tet-a-tet with the team at the Osisioma Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway before handing them over to his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma.

The team headed straight for Port Harcourt Road, navigating its way through the ever-busy Aba Park and Asa Road until it got to the cul-de-sac on Uratta Junction by Port Harcourt Road. 

At that point, vehicular movement down the road became impossible as the 5.9km road had become impassable by vehicular means, having collapsed completely and taken over by heavy refuse dumpsites and massive puddles at several points on the now dilapidated dual-carriageway.

From the Uratta Junction, all the people on the trip, mainly the engineers and journalists, disembarked from their vehicles and had to make the almost one-hour trip by foot to the end of the road at Asa Nnetu Flyover on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.

The movement continued through to Uratta Junction by Expressway, where it terminated.

The team, however, declined comments on its findings when approached by the journalists at the end of the energy-sapping inspection.

Ekeoma, who guided the team through the exercise, told the curious newsmen that the team was in the commercial city “to carry out an on-the-spot assessment of Port Harcourt Road”.


According to Ekeoma, during the campaign, the governor-elect promised that he will bring a reputable company “to take over the reconstruction of dilapidated roads in Aba.

“In fulfillment of that promise, a discussion has been ongoing with Julius Berger and other reputable construction companies to ensure that our roads are properly fixed.

“Today, Julius Berger has come to inspect Port Harcourt Road, starting from No. 1 Junction to Flyover so that they can take notice of the tragedy that has befallen Aba over the years.

“They now have first-hand information of what’s on the ground and we’re expecting the needful to be done in a matter of weeks. 

“Nothing will be done in secrecy under the incoming administration. From the contract terms to the duration to the amount and the length, nothing will be hidden.

“Our people will be carried along. The government must be answerable to the people. 

“We got thousands of people suffering on this road on a daily and weekly basis. 

“A whole lot of people have packed out from this place and we must make sure that this strategic road is recovered as soon as possible.

“We equally expect the presence of the construction giant on other important roads, like Obohia and Ohanku Roads. 

“So, they’ve seen the damage and we assure Aba people that this reputable construction company will surely restore the glory of Aba,” Ekeoma further said.

Also, Mr. Kazie Uko, another Media Aide to Otti, assured the residents and road users in particular that the nightmare experienced on the Port Harcourt Road would soon become a thing of the past.

In a statement he issued to newsmen at the end of the inspection, Uko stated: “In a matter of weeks, the bulldozers and all the other heavy-duty machines will roll into the long-abandoned Port Harcourt Road in Aba to herald a new way of infrastructure delivery in Abia”. 

He reaffirmed the mission of the team to Aba, saying that it came “to get a first-hand assessment of the state of the road. 

“It is believed that the Wednesday visit may have been a fallout of the meeting between Dr Otti and Richter,” Uko added.

Meanwhile, the team, which moved in a motorcade, comprising the Julius Berger’s branded Hilux Vans, from Osisioma Junction, caused a major stir on the streets of the city as traders, artisans, transport operators in different parks and commuters as well as commuter vehicle operators stood spell-bound in obvious awe and excitement.


They specifically hailed the governor-elect for living up to his campaign promise to tackle the road crisis in Aba headlong once elected.

They chanted such refrains as “Otti ekwueme”, “Otti okaramee”, “Otti, obughi nweakaa” to appreciate his commitment toward fixing Aba’s internal roads. 

Indeed, the joy and feeling of hope were palpable as the news of the inspection was soon to become the talk of the town, openly discussed in public places, such as churches, markets, motor parks, drinking joints, eateries, commuter vehicles, clubs and recreation spots in Aba and other parts of Abia.

A cross-section of residents and artisans on the Port Harcourt Road bared their minds on how they felt about the reconstruction of the road that would soon commence.

A commercial motorcyclist, 60-year-old Emmanuel Opute, described the condition of the road as a source of serious concern to the people and a thorn in the people’s flesh.

Opute, who said that he came to Aba in 1982, said that the dilapidation of the road was worse from Crystal Park to the Flyover.

He said that many residents of the area relocated to other parts of the city and outside, when their businesses and economy continued to suffer huge downturn without any intervention in sight.

He, therefore, expressed the hope that fixing the road by the incoming government would help to revive economic and human activities in the area.

“Otti should do anything he could to meet the people’s expectations in order to leave a lasting legacy during his administration.

“This is the reason Aba people took the pain to change the government.

“Otherwise, it means that the uniform of suffering and underdevelopment worn by the state is permanent,” Opute said.

Another resident of the area, Mrs. Onyekachi Odinaka, said that the state of the road had brought untold hardship to the residents.

According to her, the stench from the heaps of refuse has forced many residents to pack out of this area for fear of possible epidemic outbreaks.

“We are begging the incoming governor to come to our rescue because we have suffered both economic and health hazards because of the poor condition of the road.

See also  Otti directs security agencies to deal decisively with criminal elements in Abia

“If you want to go to town or market from here, you will need to walk long distance before you would be able to get a tricycle.

“The situation has also made commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators to hike their fares far above what they used to charge, when the road was good.

Assessing the extent of work to be done

“That time, from here to Flyover or Park was only N50 but now we pay as much as between N400 and N500,” Odinaka said.

An automobile mechanic, Emmanuel Basil and a generator repairer, Alexander Ike, whose workshops are located on the road, claimed to be the worse hit by the deplorable condition of the road.

They said that they had lost most of their customers, who found it difficult to access their workshops. 

“Most of our colleagues have relocated to other areas but we have remained because we have got used to this area,” Basil said.

He said, “Most times, we will be here without any vehicle driving in, except big cars, like jeeps. But no small car dares to come to the road,” Basil said.

Also, artisans at the motor scrap area as well as the trucks and articulated vehicle mechanic and iron fabrication sections on the road said that they had suffered serious frustration due to the economic downturn occasioned by the deplorable condition of the road.

One of them, Mr. Christian Nwankwo, said: “Many of us have packed out, while some are bedridden today as a result of the frustration they suffered over the years.

“Some landlords, whose buildings were pulled down by outgoing Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, suffered stroke, while some died from hypertension and heart attack.”

The people said that the presence of Julius Berger in Aba “has rekindled our hope that Aba would soon regain its lost glory.

A machine fabricator, Mr Iyke Igwe, otherwise called “Iron”, said: “We have confidence that Otti has the capacity and competence to trnsform Abia.

“That is why we have continued to support him massively since 2015, when he ventured into politics.

“We are only praying that God shall give him the resources and good health to rebuild the state and help us to bounce back to our businesses.”

Sam Okoro, a Public Affairs analyst, writes from Umuahia.



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