Ogoni indigenes under the Ogoni Liberation Initiative (OLI) yesterday staged a protest on the Eleme-Onne section of the East-West Road in Rivers State over the deplorable state of the road that have claimed many lives recently.
The group blocked the road for about an hour, decrying the federal government neglect of the road about year after it was awarded for repair, following a massive protest by natives, commuters, civil society groups, and others.
However, the incident of last Friday, has rekindled the move for protest as many groups have given the government the ultimatum to commence work or have the road shutdown.
Speaking during the protest, the OLI President, Dr. Douglas Fabeke, said the deplorable state of the Eleme section of the East-West Road has been a major concern for residents of the area and commuters.
Fabeke decried the cases of accidents leading to the loss of innocent lives and destruction of value property on the road, saying the road has been a death trap for commuters as travelers are always scared while plying the road alongside heavy duty trucks from companies.
The president, who is a senatorial candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 elections in Rivers State, expressed condolences to the families of those that lost their love ones in the fatal accident that occurred between October 7 and 14 2022 on the road.
He stated that the accidents would have been avoided if the government had made good its promise by reconstructing the road, saying: “The death of these innocent people is one of the too many recent incidents that triggered this action.
“The section of the road measuring 15 kilometres from trailer park to Eleme junction with a connecting bridge is one of the busiest segments of the federal highway resulting from the consistent haulage of goods from the Onne seaport, the Port Harcourt Refinery, the Indorama Petrochemical, the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone among others.
‘The road connects eight local government areas such as Khana, Gokana, Tai, Eleme, Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro, Okrika and Oyigbo, including Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, to Port Harcourt.
The road also serves over 200 multinational companies such as the Indorama Petrochemical and Fertilizer Company, Intels Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Ports Authority, Port Harcourt Refinery, and many others.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria had promised several times to fix the bad section of the road but the people are yet to see any sign of construction work. This is very sad and unfortunate considering the billions of naira the government generates from the companies using the road.”
The protesters, however, call “on the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately within seven days, commence work on the reconstruction of the road and the remodeling of the existing connecting Aleto bridge which is near collapsing, failing which the Ogoni people shall mobilise again and shut down all forms of transportation and economic activities on the road.”