Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, Governor of Abia State, has claimed that he has improved the city of Aba from the bad state of infrastructure he encountered when he took office in 2015.
He revealed that most of the roads had been abandoned for over 20 years because trees had grown in them, while others were constantly flooded during the year.
According to him, flood waters had been sitting on the roads for more than 15 years, and he needed to use cement pavement technology on the roads with drainage on both sides to ensure longevity.
Ikpeazu mentioned this while speaking to members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, who were touring project sites of his administration in Aba. He clarified that he was greeted in office with issues of security and bad roads, which led to investors fleeing the region.
He, on the other hand, reported that he was concentrating on constructing roads leading to markets and other economic centres in order to improve the state’s small and medium-sized enterprises, oil and gas, and agro-based industries.
The governor also announced that, for the first time in 30 years, he opened Faulks Road (Sam Mbakwe Rd) from Brass Junction to the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, leading to the Ariaria International Market.
“In 2015, we began our journey to Government House, Umuahia, and thought about how best we could better the lives of Abians,” he says. We came with the aim of assisting trade and industry, small-scale manufacturing, oil and gas, agriculture, education, and other sectors in which our people have a comparative advantage.
“At the time, we were dealing with insecurity and a lack of infrastructure. There was no way to get to Aba. I once attempted to travel to Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom state and it took me five hours for a trip that should not have taken more than an hour. As a result, I was aware that Aba was steadily fading.
“Because there was no road leading into Aba or even Ariaria, the traders at Ariaria market were not making many sales. This is why we implemented a strategy of reconstructing roads leading to such important economic centres for our community. If you want to revitalise Aba’s economy, you must find a way to enable our brothers from Akwa Ibom and Cross River states to enter the region. Then, you must find a way for people to travel to Aba from Port Harcourt and Bayelsa. The first three roads we built in the first 100 days were Ukaegbu, Umuola, and Ehere, which will help you get to Aba. I had to take another road via Ekwereazu, which takes you from Aba into Akwa Ibom state in just 40 minutes. For the first time in 30 years, we have completed Faulks (Sam Mbakwe) Road from Brass Junction to the Expressway, which leads to the Ariaria international sector. We built these roads to improve connectivity to economic centres.
“You may have heard about a certain ‘mammy water’ that was rumoured to be behind the perpetual flooding at Ama Ikonne and Ifeobara pond, and although that was a laughable narrative against the cause of the flooding, let me inform you that all the ‘mammy waters’ have now vanished courtesy of hitech engineering works we deployed to the concerned sites. And with that, we realised we had made a long-term statement.
“It is not because those who came before me did not try to repair the roads; but, the roads they did try to fix collapsed after just the first rainy season. The explanation was that they did not do enough research and deep preparation on what really needed to be done to fix the issues that were causing the roads to collapse almost irreparably”.
The Governor noted that by focusing on quality infrastructure, he has increased trade and commerce and brought investors back to Aba.