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Arresting the carnage on Okene-Auchi-Benin road

This accident was celebrated because a “very important person” (VIP) died in it. Road mishaps are virtually on daily basis on this road. Yet, it…

This accident was celebrated because a “very important person” (VIP) died in it.

Road mishaps are virtually on daily basis on this road. Yet, it is the major link to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, from the Edo/Delta states section of the country.

Scores of Nigerians and, even foreigners, have met their untimely death on this road because it is narrow and full of dangerous bends.

Worst still, large portions of it have been washed away by erosion. Most noticeable of this is the Egiono/Agbede/Ewu hill axis.

Students of Auchi Polytechnic refer to this area, sadly, as “The Hill of Death” or “Golgotha” because of the large number of their colleagues who have died there.

Analysts say that within the last two months, over 100 lives had been lost on this failed portion of the road.

Edo governor, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, lost two of his aides — Chris Nwanchwukwu and Greg Haruna, on this same road, not too long ago.

The President, Students’ Union Government (SUG), Auchi Polytechnic, Kingsley Aigbe, pleads with all tiers of government to repair the road as a matter of urgency.

“It is we the commoners, especially poor students, which suffer this hardship. The wealthy and affluent ones, who are mostly in government, do not see it as a problem since they can afford to fly.

 “The condition of the 130-km Benin-Auchi road is a huge embarrassment to this nation and has been a source of loss to the students of Auchi Polytechnic and those who ply the route.

 “We cannot recount the number of students we have lost their lives on this road over the years.

“ We do not have the basic statistics for this but we have lost quite a number of students owing to the bad state of the road,” Aigbe lamented.

 The chairman of Auchi Motor Park, Mallam Jimah Idris Umar, appeals to the federal and state governments to cooperate and dualise the road.

This, he says, is the only way to reduce the carnage and save more Nigerians from being killed or maimed on the road.

Umar says the Auchi-Ewu axis of the road is exceptionally notorious because it is too narrow for the heavy vehicles plying the road.

He urges government to replace the railings on its bridges and gullies, as well as install traffic signs on the route to minimise the danger faced by unwary motorists.

 “What has been happening on this road within the past two months calls for serious concern by well meaning Nigerians. It is a death trap.

 “Aside the failed portions of this road, there is no room for a vehicle in trouble to park off the road. Yet, we see a lot of trailers and luxury buses plying this narrow road”.

A PDP member of the House of Representatives, Mr Johnson Abolagba, is troubled that the carnage on this road has not been arrested.

Abolagba, representing Owan West and East Federal Constituency, says much of the deaths could have been avoided if attention had been paid to the road.

 “I am calling on the government to do something urgent on our roads. Government should be seen as working. Let us stop talking and start doing something positive.

 “Urgent attention should be given this particular road. Over 100 deaths had been recorded on this road this year alone,” he emphasises.

The Edo Zonal Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr Zakari Nda, warns drivers to always be cautious and maintain a reasonable speed limit while on the road.

 He appeals to the State Government to assist the Commission with tow vans to enable it tow broken down vehicles or those involved in accidents, off the road in time.

Nda observes that the most horrific accidents on the road had involved luxury buses running into broken down trucks.

He also appeals to motorists, especially the commercial ones, to always ensure that their vehicles are road worthy.

Meanwhile, the Edo House of Assembly has declared a state of emergency on federal roads in the state.

The Zakawanu Garuba-led House, specifically called on the Federal Government to ensure the urgent dualisation of the busy Benin-Auchi road, and ensure its constant maintenance.

The House called on the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to ensure that the failed portions are urgently repaired, before work begins on the dualisation.

However, the coordinator of FERMA in Edo, Mr Ola Fagbamila, says funds with which to effect repairs on the failed portions of the road have not been released.

 Fagbamila says the repair works, which is estimated at N40 million, will affect the Egiono-Agbede-Ewu axis.

 He adds that the entire stretch of Abuja-Okene-Auchi-Benin road is to be dualised soon.

As the cliché goes: “a stitch in time saves nine”. Urgent steps should be taken to avert more deaths on the Okene-Auchi-Benin road.

In fact, all roads in Nigeria should be made worthy of being called roads. Only then will the carnage end and motorists have pleasure driving. (NANFeatures)

Culled from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)