Abia Community Raises Alarm Over Collapse Of Omenuko Bridge

Abia Community Raises Alarm Over Collapse Of Omenuko Bridge

By Iro Oliver Stanley

Residents of Ozu Abam community of Abia State have appealed to the state government to quickly intervene and save the Omenuko bridge linking Umuahia and Abam, Ohafia, and Arochukwu before it finally collapses.

Ozu Abam is a community in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State.

THE WHISTLER gathered that a downpour last week let to the rapid coastal erosion along the shoreline of the Igwu River which affected the bridge.

The bridge links Abam communities to other towns in Arochukwu and Ohafia LGAs, and represents the gateway to other neighboring communities in Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers States.

The Omenuko Bridge traverses the ancient Igwu River which has great historical significance for the people of Abam kingdom.

The bridge has become dilapidated due to years of neglect, and had led to loss of many lives.

The Omenuko bridge was constructed about 50 years ago.

Some commuters who spoke to THE WHISTLER, appealed for quick intervention of both members representing Aro/Ohafia federal constituency and the ministry of works in the interest of the people and sustainable business activities.

John Ariwa, a resident, said “Honestly, it’s quite disheartening, I passed through there this morning. The water has already reached to the height of the bridge”.

Another resident of Ozu Abam, Mr. Kelechi Kaku, said the situation was worrisome, as motorists and road users who uses the road from Arochukwu, Ohafia and Abam are so scared of using the bridge for fear it may collapse.

A road user, Mr. Ibem Onwuka, who shared pictures of the collapsing bridge on his verified Facebook page wrote:

“The recent heavy downpour has caused the collapse of this road very close to the deadly and narrow Omenuko Bridge, Igwu River in Ozu Abam along the Ohafia-Abam-Bende-Umuahia road.

“If remediation work is not carried out immediately on the failed portions of the road, it might divide the road and also affect the bridge which is under management.”

The National Youth Leader of Ozu Abam Development Union, Mr. Josh Egbuta Nwankwo, has also called on the Federal Ministry of Works to expedite action on the bridge to cushion the effect of the erosion and save the lives of his people.

According to Nwankwo, “Dangerous scene along the shoreline of Igwu-Omenuko bridge and the quick response of the member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency, Hon. Uko Nkole.

“Action needs to be expedited by the ministries to cushion the effect of this erosion and save the lives of our people”.

Meanwhile the member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia federal constituency, Hon. Uko Ndukwe Nkole, said he had contacted the interim Managing Director of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) under whose purview he had been attracting the maintenance of the said road since 2016.

The lawmaker also revealed that FERMA Resident Engineer in Umuahia had responded with a promise to visit the site for further remedial actions.

He said, “My attention has been drawn to the very rapid coastal erosion along the shoreline of the Igwu River by the dangerous Omenuko Bridge abutting the paved Access Road of F107 at the Ozu Abam Section Arochukwu Local Government Area.

“The development arose from the intensity of the rainfalls as witnessed recently leading to the inundation/overflow of the River bank .The Igwu River is the collector basin for all run offs for the entire Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency and beyond.

“The emerging scenes from the pictures is disturbing and a serious threat to lives and property particularly the Road users on this busy economic route linking the Northern Part of Abia State to south south states of Akwaibom,Cross Rivers state and an international route to Cameroon and needs urgent mitigation.

“In view of the above I have contacted in the interim the Managing Director of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) under whose purview I have been attracting the maintenance of the said road since 2016 and currently my intervention with the appropriation of over 300mn in the Covid 19 re-ordered budget of 2020 gave rise to the award of the existing contract that it’s scope included the shoreline protection work on this particular spot and from the attached pictorial evidence the job executed falls short of minimum standard.

“The FERMA Resident Engineer in Umuahia Abia State has just responded with a promise to urgently visit site for further remedial actions .

“I have also communicated and spoken with the Federal Ministry Of Works Officials the Ministery responsible for the delivery of the new Igwu bridge on this life threatening situation.

“While thanking the media for bringing to speed the emerging emergency in the meantime I enjoin the road users to drive carefully and exercise patience as I escalate the issue with relevant Federal Executive branch to getting the accelerated attention it deserves” .

Recall that Uko Nkole had in 2018, in the build up to 2019 general election, promised to rebuild the Igwu River Omenuko bridge.

The federal lawmaker made the announcement through a post on his Facebook page on Thursday May 10 2018.

According to Nkole “I am pleased to inform my good people of Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency that the contract for the reconstruction of Omenuko Bridge, Igwu River, Ozu Abam in Arochukwu Local Government, a project sponsored by me has been awarded,” Hon. Nkole said in the post.

“And construction of the bridge shall commence soon,” the lawmaker added.

Source: The Whistler.

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