For residents of Odual kingdom, accessing their ancestral home is like the proverbial camel passing through the eyes of a needle.
Despite its rich mineral resources and prominent sons and daughters who have occupied positions of authority in the country, the sleepy and rustic Rivers community still lacks basic infrastructural facilities.
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In 2005, one of the prominent sons of the community, Mr Henry Ogiri, who was the Executive Director of Finance and Administration at the NDDC, initiated the reconstruction of the badly dilapidated road but it was abandoned less than three months after the initial contract was awarded.
Odual Kingdom, according to goggle map, is bounded in the east by Abua villages of Ogbema, Arukwo and Ogbogolo, in the west by Oloibiri, Amurukeni in Ogbia (Bayelsa State), in the north by Oruma, Ibelebiri, Kolo (also in Ogbia), and in the south by Nembe town (also in Bayelsa State).
The people of Odual Kingdom have lamented the poor state of access road to the community through Oruma, a community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Odual shares a border with Oruma community in Bayelsa and Daily Trust Saturday learnt that the community is closer to Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa than Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State where they belong to administratively.
Our reporter gathered that before the only bridge that linked the two communities and the two states collapsed, the people were doing their businesses in Yenagoa and Mbiama, the Rivers State boundary community with Bayelsa State. But after the bridge broke down, residents found it difficult transporting their farm produce to either Yenagoa in Bayelsa State or Mbiama in Rivers State for sales, a situation that has caused severe hardship in the community.
A resident, Mr Arthur Deintu, said before the road broke down and the bridge linking Odual and Oruma collapsed, things were going well with them, but the collapsed bridge has prevented them from doing so now.
“With this rainy season, it’s very risky to cross over with canoe, and we don’t even have canoe services here. That is why we plead with government, and multinationals oil companies to come to our rescue. If a woman is in labour or somebody is in a critical condition, how do we rush such person out of here? We really need assistance,” he said.
A motorcycle rider, Mr King Confident, said before the bridge collapsed, he used to transport people from the community to Oruma and other places within Ogbia, stressing that he used the proceeds to fend for his family, but at the moment, he doesn’t have an option than to stay at home.
He said when he tried to go out, the money used in repairing the motorcycle was higher than the gain he made that day, a situation he said was better than staying at home until help comes their way.
Recently, a retired headmaster living in the community, Mr Tamanu Obom, drew the plights of the community to public attention when he addressed journalists on the deplorable state of the access road.
Obom revealed that the sorry state of the road has made life difficult for them, adding that they trek for five hours from Ogboloma to Ekago Junction before they can travel to Yenagoa and Port Harcourt.
He appealed to the Rivers State government to complete the remaining section of the collapsed road from Ekago Junction to Emago-Kugbo.
The agrarian community of Odual mostly transport plantain to different parts of Bayelsa, but the poor state of the road has affected the prices of foodstuff in the area.
The suspension of the chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Area by Governor Nyesom Wike recently made it difficult for our reporter to know what the council is doing about the road as no official was on ground to speak with our reporter.
Until the recent termination of the road contract by the NDDC Interim Management Committee, the road project which was started in 2005 had attained certain milestone. The Commission, our reporter gathered, started the 23.5km Otuasege-Obedum-Emelego Road and bridges that linked both communities to Bayelsa and Rivers states. The road project was said to have started from Otuasega part of Bayelsa to Obedum, Emirikpoko and Anyu communities for Odual part of the road and stopped few meters the Ekagho Creek between Anyu and Ogbloma.
The road project was awarded by NDDC in 2005 when Henry Ogiri, a prominent son of Odual was the Executive Director of Finance and Administration of NDDC.
Efforts made by our reporter to speak with NDDC Head of Corporate Affairs, Charles Obi Odili, on why the road was abandoned by NDDC was unsuccessful.
He did not also reply the text message sent to him on the issue.