Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nnam-Ugbenu bridge collapses

Another bridge has collapsed in Awka North local government area cutting off several communities and the neighboring Enugu state from easy visit to and fro Awka, the Anambra state capital, reports, ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU.

Known as the Nnam bridge, it links the renowned rice producing communities of Awba-Ofemili, Ugbene and Ugbenu with other parts of Awka north communities collapsed in the early hours of Monday August 25th 2008 without any casualty. The only means of transport now is by canoes and swimming across the mostly riverine communities.

When contacted, the Anambra state Commissioner for Works, Mr Calistus Ilozumba told Daily Champion that, “I am hearing it from you for the first time but I am going to dispatch our engineers and consultants as well as the contractor working on that road to find a way we would lessen the suffering of the people.”

Stressing that though he did not hear it before now, the government of Gov. Peter Obi is committed in tackling emergencies headlong, “so we are going to do something for the people of Awka North and the communities so that they would be assessable to and fro. Anything we are going to do will be urgent.”

Efforts to speak to the information and culture commissioner Prof Mrs Stella Okunna did not yield fruit.

On the Ebenebe-Amansea bridge that collapsed over five months ago, Mr. Ilozumba restated that contractor is already working the best it could do now for as the rain is too much to enable it tackle the road headlong immediately after the heavy rain period reduce.

Daily Champion gathered that the bridge was built and commissioned by the late Commodore Emeka Omeruah’s regime in the old Anambra state in 1987.

Confirming this incident to Daily Champion yesterday, President General of Awba-Ofemili Development Union (ADU), Chief Anthony Okafor, said its lamentable because just few months ago, the Ebenebe-Amensea bridge connecting the aforementioned towns to Awka, capital of Anambra State also collapsed, therefore making life difficult to the Awka-North communities.

Chief Okafor, however, called on the government of Mr. Peter Obi to urgently come to the aid of the agro-communities because according to him, apart from the collapsed Nnam bridge cutting off Awba-Ofemili, Ugbene with Ugbenu, “it would stall the evacuation of agricultural produce from these communities known for massive and quality rice output.”

He noted that some indigenes that went home for the August meeting and festivals surrounding the new yam were affected as most of them could not go back to the bases.
The ADU president reiterated the plea of these communities for Governor Peter Obi to quickly come to their aid by intervention.

Also speaking an Anglican Clergy, Reverend Ferdinand Okoye, the vicar of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church Awba-Ofemmili while attributing the collapse on the heavy flooding that has washed away the edges of the bridge, said coming in and out of the community is risk even as appealed to Governor Peter Obi to as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the communities.

Reverend Okoye added that the communities have been cut off from the rest of the state following the earlier collapsed bridge at Amansea that has not been repaired saying that Canoe is the only means of traveling out and many could not travel by this means especially those living in the urban areas for long who could not swim, should any eventuality happens even though no one is praying for that.

He appeals to Governor Peter Obi to quickly come to their aid by mandating for immediate restoring of all the bridges that have collapsed in Awka North as life is no longer pleasurable for people of the area.

Daily Champion recalls that the collapse of the about 50 meters bridge across the popular Ezu–Ebenebe river linking Ebenebe with Amansea in Awka North local area, a link roads to over five out of 10 communities in Awka North is still unattended to by the state government on the excuse that the rain is still much but the contract according to the Commissioner for works has been awarded.

The bridge collapsed when a trailer belonging to Breco construction company constructing the about 39 kilometers of road from Amansea –Ebenebe –Ugbene –Ugbenu – Awba Ofemmili road which was carrying 50 tones of chippings across the bridge against the instruction that vehicles carrying anything above 12 tones should not cross the bridge.

The belly bridge Daily Champion recalled was built 38 years ago by the Nigerian Army during the Biafran war and has remained like that since apart from regular patches by the various religious groups in Ebenebe.

The similar Bridge through Okpuno to Mgbakwu last five years collapsed at a similar situation and has remained like that till today with a fragile concrete as an alternative route which may soon collapse.

When Daily Champion visited there thousands of people where seen stranded on how to cross the dreaded Ezu-river with canoe as the only means of transport. To cross either to Amansea or Ebenebe costs N50 for an individual and between N300 and N500 to cross over a motorcycle . Various types of cars were seen parked at the both sides of the river as they cannot be crossed over by the local boat. The river is very deep as a long bamboo tree put inside it was swallowed up.

Some were even seen taking risk of climbing over the already collapsed bridge to either Amansea or Ebenebe for fear of the canoe. The people there appealed to the Governor to come and see things for himself and give them alternative route as the only route has been cut off.

Commissioner for information Prof Mrs. Stella Chinyere Okunna had said this then, “You can see the part of neglect the people have suffered all these years in the hands of the previous governments and that is what the governor is trying to correct. That bridge is horrible , and the road horrible and all other bridge in that area and it is going to cost the government millions of naira to reconstruct . It takes vision to start work on that road.”


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