By Nosa Akenzua in Asaba
The ever-busy Benin – Asaba Highway is now a death trap, motorists who ply the route declared on Tuesday morning while holding a 4-hour-protest to draw feudal government’s attention to its poos state.
The protesters included motorists and passengers who chanted war songs to press home their anger against federal government’s alleged nonchalant attitude towards its repair.
Following the pressure of heavy vehicular movement, impacts of climate change, poor maintenance of the bridges, fear of road failure, automobile accidents have become “playmates of motorists”, and motorists plying the ever busy expressway.
But the protesters in the early hours armed with placards: “FERMA repair our road, the failed portions cause deaths, we need FERMA’s attention, or there will be no motorists plying the road” lasted for four hours before they retired to their respective homes.
Leader of the protesting motorists around Okhuae River head bridge, Edo State, Mr. Festus Izevbuwa, said: “we as motorists take the risk every day we drive on top of the failed portions with fear, several persons have been killed as a result of the failed portion, what is FERMA doing to the federal roads; we will continue to protest until government repairs the road”.
In spite of the hue and cry which greeted the series of bloody accidents recorded on the road, calling on the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to repair the deadly potholes, especially, the fast development gully erosion sites, reportedly responsible for series of road mishaps, FERMA has allegedly kept mum.
As the condition of the road becomes more deplorable following the rapid development of many dangerous spots, especially, the fast developing gully erosion disaster sites, pear Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) mega filling station, opposition Asaba Airport, Deltans have called on FERMA to employ proactive measures to avert further loss of lives and property along the road.
Worried by the alleged lukewarm attitude reportedly exhibited by the agency, toward addressing the impending doom, dangling, tongues have started wagging, as Nigerians, plying the road tongue lash FERMA and the Federal Government Ministries of Road and Transport for alleged insensitivity toward employing proactive measures swiftly to address the deadly situation.
They, however, pleaded with the Delta State Government to come to their aid, by employing temporary measures, such as filling the two gully erosion sites (barracked with drum to caution on-coming vehicles) stones.
Our respondents expressed worry over the sad development and called on the Federal Government to direct FERMA to address the dangerous situation.
Mr. Chukwuka Mordi, in his contribution, called on both the state governments and legislators representing the state at the national levels to wade into the dangerous situation.
He added that if the situation was not swiftly given attended to, automobile-related accidents will claim many more lives and property.
Investigation revealed that deep potholes litter the expressway, especially between Igbodo community to Benin city where they have been hue and cry of deaths and incessant accident cases recorded.
But when our reporter visited the FERMA office, along the DBS Road, Asaba, for its comment on the poor condition of some of the federal roads across Delta State, the Director-General in charge of the agency was not on seat.
According to our source, he went on an inspection tour of the failed portions of the roads. It was learnt that the management of FERMA was aware of the existence of the failed portions of the roads, especially the dangerous gully erosion site along the Benin/Asaba Expressway, near NNPC.
According to the management, the agency is current repairing the failed portions of the Benin/Asaba Road, at Okpanam junction, adding that work will soon commence at the failed portion of the road by Okwe General Hospital, near Asaba, by former Nigeria Immigration Office.
On the gully erosion site near the NNPC Mega Station, opposite the Asaba Airport, the management, while acknowledging the presence of the gully, said that its Abuja headquarter was aware of the development and was working round the clock to address the problem.