Roads fall apart-I don't know if this expression is correct. Maybe I should have said “things fall apart” but it wouldn't capture the true state of things around here. Moreover, I'm sure if you first see “things fall apart” you will probably start thinking of Chinua Achebe's novel and might take some time getting back your line of thoughts to the issue on ground and I wouldn't like to risk that. The state of roads and traffic situation in Aba is big enough to occupy anyone's mind; adding anything extra might be mind blowing.
The governor for now operates from Aba. Whatever his reasons are, I respect that, at least this ensures that he has a first hand experience of what the roads and traffic situation are. Let me paint a picture of the traffic situation in the City. The traffic starts from 6:45am and continues till afternoon and sometimes till very late in the especially on the Aba-Owerri Road,which is about the only route motorable in Aba and also the only one that leads outside the city. It is also this road that the governor plies on his way to work . The traffic situation is not as a result of increase in vehicular number. Actually, the major road users are Keke and bus drivers because people going to work don't deem it necessary going to the work with their cars these days while the rest of the wise ones simply elongate the lifespan of their cars by parking it at home. Exposing your car to Aba roads is dangerous to the health of the car and the health of the driver. Common sense. Most Aba car owners have learnt to apply that in their lives. The potholes are so bad that car repair shops are the most visited places in the city. The pothole can even damage a woman's womb- jokes apart.
In view of this, we can conclude that my governor is a victim of the terrible traffic situation we experience in Aba. The much that can happen to ease the situation for him is that his security details will come down from their cars and force other road users to one side of the already jammed road to create a temporary thoroughfare for his entourage to pass. This also takes a lot of time because the traffic usually stretches over a very long distance.
In all, he sees and experiences firsthand what people are passing through in the city and yet not much is being done to alleviate the situation. When we heard our governor commissioned some roads on his first day at work, it gave me serious concern. Whatever that was meant to achieve, it painted a picture of a man who is concerned with the most pressing need of his people. What happened to that man and that heart when after three months, except cleaning the gutters in Aba-Owerri road and some parts of brass road and dumping the dirt by the roadside for the people to see that the governor is cleaning the gutters and the recent widening of the gutters in some parts of Aba-Owerri road, nothing more has been done. Moreover, clearing the gutters is not enough. They will soon close up if appropriate measures are not taken to sensitize people on the need to properly dispose wastes. The touts used to harass bus drivers can also be used to catch defaulters. When can we finally have a government that sincerely thinks about the people?
When you were taking up leadership Sir, you knew Aba roads are the Aba man's nightmare. Fixing them is fixing his business and every of his activities. A ten minutes ride now takes us one hour and sometimes more. A distance we pay forty or fifty Naira for, we now pay hundred Naira. You can hardly make it on time to any appointment. Going out these days is a trauma. Sometimes, I ask myself if it's a bad thing to live in Aba. I didn't include pictures of the road because if I did, you will probably not eat the rest of the day-the sights are irritating. Luckily for me, I live in an area that's a bit clean but whenever I have to go out, I usually close my eyes as I sit in the Keke. Those terrible sights disturb me a lot. What is the fate of those that cannot afford to pay for Keke drop? Our Keke drivers are real heroes. You need to see them wading through the water and hitting their machines on the very deep potholes. They should be conscripted into the Nigeria Army and that, without much training. Aba road has completed that assignment. With the kind of anger and frustration they exude, Boko Haram will soon be history.
Businesses are suffering. Which road will people take to come to buy from your shop? Bus and Keke drivers spend more to keep their automobiles running on the very bad roads: who pays for it-the masses. Yet, the government makes money from this people's sweat every day. They buy daily tickets without which they cannot carry people. Actually, the cost of the ticket has been increased by the present administration. I heard there was a new ticket that was recently introduced called "loading and offloading." So, you see drivers work with so much frustration. They drive passengers anyhow. They drop us anywhere. (People endure all these because if not for these crazy drivers, you either stay at home and miss important engagements or trek the dreadful roads. Necessary inconvenience you can rightly call them.) No one checks all these. The only thing the government does is to place their touts in every nook and cranny of the city to checkmate drivers who are working without a ticket. If a driver is caught, it's usually a terrible experience for him.
Dear governor, what seems to be the problem? Is it that the Barber doesn't know how to cut or is it the clipper that is blunt? Is it money? We understand that there is no money in the state, but what about the money generated internally from the state on a daily basis-from bus drivers, Keke drivers, shop owners in the streets and in the various numerous markets in the city who pay different levies? Can’t that be used to begin? Is it the will? Is the pain people are going not enough to spur you to action?
Is anyone thinking about the future of this state? At this rate, what becomes of her in the next twenty years? The leaders have succeeded in making the state unattractive to graduates. All of them relocate upon graduation meanwhile; it is the presence of good heads that develops a city. Aba has always been a business city and will always be. But what has her millionaires done for her except make more and more from her each day? What have they given back to the city? Have the quality of the lives of people been improved by their enterprises? People in Aba drink so much because that's the only form of recreation they know. Who will bring the cinemas, the parks, the beautiful gardens, the shopping malls, the online shopping malls and all those nice things people in developed cities enjoy if not these good heads the city keeps spitting out? Who will introduce the humane and efficient services people in other cities enjoy? What is Aba man’s business with customer care? Isn’t that the kind of Aba the business man has fashioned for himself? The kind of Aba he thrives in? What is the future of a city where over 20% of her young men are touts? It's about time our leaders become responsible to the plight of the people and the future of this state. It’s about time they began to do something with the trust we’ve given them through our votes or not.
Dear Governor, the responsibility you have assumed is huge.( In fact, the only state that is as bad as our Abia is Bayelsa.) We all understand the enormity of your responsibility. You also did and still do. When you elected to take up leadership of the state, you knew you were inheriting a lot of garbage and years of so much neglect. So, get about it. We all saw your campaign bill boards and adverts where you were seen clearing dirt off the streets of Aba-heaven at last! Get about it already. The state is tired. The people are tired. Do what you can while you can. Four years is not such a long time but you can make every day count.
IGBOKWE VIVIAN BEULAH
Twitter : @club7teen