Accidents/Deplorable Road: Students Protest Over Death Of Colleague, MOUAU VC, ABSG Moves In, Consoles Bereaved Family
The Vice Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike MOUAU has disclosed that an official approval for palliative work on the bad portions of Umuahia/Ikot-Ekpene road would begin soon.
The Vice Chancellor who addressed the students on their recent protest over the sorry state of the road, which led to an accident that claimed the life of final year student of the school, from Fishery Department, Chidinma Ogbonna, according to a press release signed and made available to newsmen in Umuahia by the University’s Public Relations Officer, Adanma Odefa, expressed sadness and heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased.
The release read, “It is no longer news that the Abia State end of the Umuahia/ Ikot-Ekpene road has become barely passable. No doubt, the sorry state of the road has occasioned untold hardship on our staff and student populations, including the loss of lives of our dear students.
“The lastest painful loss is the death of Miss Chidinma Ogbonna, a 500-level student of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management.
“The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, and the entire Management are deeply saddened by this great loss. We ask her family to please accept our heartfelt condolences.
“Be assured that the VC is well aware of the challenges presented by the sorry state of the road and have not been idle. For the past few weeks, the VC through his SA on Projects, Engr. Richard Onyeaso, invited the local FERMA on an inspection of the bad spots, took pictorial evidence and prepared a strong appeal letter to FERMA. The VC personally took these documents to FERMA headquarters in Abuja to make further physical appeals. His efforts were rewarded with an official approval for palliative work to begin on the road.
“The Vice-Chancellor has addressed the students, thanking them for keeping their protest peaceful and also for extracting a promise from the State Government to commence palliative work on the said road. He therefore, appeals to the students and entire University community to maintain calm and return to their lawful businesses while we wait for FERMA and/or the State Government to mobilise and begin work on the road.
“We further appeal to the operators of mini buses, motor tricycles aka ‘keke’ and motorcycles aka ‘okada’ to be more responsible in operating these vehicles. Their recklessness is, unfortunately, a major contributor to some tragic incidents that could be avoided”.
Meanwhile, the appropriate officers of the University have been mandated to run advocacy programs, targeting commercial vehicle operators on that road to curb reckless driving, whilst we keep reminding FERMA to implement the approval that the VC has obtained.
In a similar vein, the Abia State Government has directed the state ministry of works to mobilize Pumeco Construction Company to move in and implement palliative repairs along the bad portions of Umuahia/ Ikot-Ekpene road from Wednesday with or without approval from federal ministry of works.
In addition, the Governor expresses his personal condolences and that of the good people of Abia State to the bereaved family, students and staff of the university over the sad and unfortunate incident.
This was contained in a release made available to newsmen in Umuahia by the State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu captioned, “Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Federal Road: We are Moving In”.
The release read, “Early last week, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu invited the State’s Commisioner for Works, Elder Bob Ogu, to a meeting in his office and directed him to mobilize a contractor to immediately execute palliative repairs of failed portions of Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road, Umuahia, after receiving reports on the terrible state of the federal road leading to the prestigious Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), and the attendant hardship experienced by commuters who use the road that also links our state to some neighboring states.
“After assessing the work to be done there, the Honorable Commissioner reverted to the Governor last Friday and informed him that they would have to get written permission from the Federal Ministry of Works before commencing work as the said road has already been awarded by the federal government and handed over to the contractors who are claiming that adequate funds have not yer been provided for commencement of the work.
“At that point, the Governor was really furious and asked: “is there a deliberate plan to totally destroy trade and commerce in this state and punish our people?”
“Aside from Aba-Ikot Ekpene and Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Federal Highways that are in terrible conditions, other federal roads leading to our major commercial and agricultural hubs such as Abe-Port Harcourt Segment of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Ohafia Road, Arochukwu-Ohafia-Bende Road etc, are death traps that cannot, by any standard, be described as roads.
“The most painful part is that these are the major roads leading to our centres of trade, commerce and agricuiture, the mainstay of our people. Indeed, visitors to our state form opinions about the state based on the poor state of these federal roads and until they are fixed it will remain difficult to appreciate the work the Ikpeazu-led administration has done to renew our infrastructure since 2015.
“Abia State Government moved to fix the Osisioma-NNPC Depot Road in Aba, belonging to the federal government, two years ago and after working on more than 1km of the road the federal ministry of works sent a letter directing the Abia State government to leave the federal road which they claimed to have been awarded for reconstruction. Two years down the line, absolutely nothing has been done as the federal contractor claims he is yet to be funded. Our appeal to allow us to fix the key road for a future refund fell on deaf ears.
“Yesterday, Governor Ikpeazu received information that an articulated truck fell along the bad portion of Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal road killing a student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, identified as Queen. He has directed the state ministry of works to mobilize Pumeco Construction Company to move in and implement palliative repairs along the bad portions of that important road from Wednesday with or without approval from federal ministry of works.
“Abia state Government is in solidarity with the students who protested earlier today and wishes to assure them that help is on the way. Aside from the palliative work we are commencing this Wednesday, we will engage the federal ministry of works on the need to fund road projects in our state or allow us to work on those roads already tied with federal contracts.
“For now, we are moving in and hope to do more for our people as the rains abate”
Recall that Students of the University had earlier today went berserk, protesting the deplorable state of the Umuahia/ Ikot Ekpene road.
The students numbering thousands, blocked the Federal road, carrying placards which read, “Rubber Stamp National Assembly, Fix Our Roads” #Justice for Queen, Umuahia/Ikot Ekpene Road Na Death Trap, #Justice for Queen.
Interacting with a cross section of newsmen, the Students Union Government President, Comrade Chukwuma Ogochukwu, said the student were protesting the deplorable state of Ikwuano/Ikot Ekpene Road, which has claimed the lives of many students, adding that the most recent, was the crushing to death of a final year student of Fishery Department, Chidinma Ogbonna.
Comrade Ogochukwu, added that they did not come to MOUAU as students to be killed by vehicles, stressing that the protest, is peaceful while the idea, is to press on the Federal Government to fix the road which is in a deplorable condition, maintaining that their demand is not too much.
Another Student who does not want his name in print, said they were protesting bad road, bad governance and bad leadership, informing that the protest was necessitated by the crushing to death of a final year student who was coming out from her lodge adding that a month ago, a student also died as she finished her final year exams.
He stated that the students are not asking too much except for the Federal Government to fix the Ikwuano/Ekot Ekpene road, adding that the road will claim more lives, if nothing is done urgently to fix the road.