The people of Onicha Ukwu and Onicha Okpe in Ubulu-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State have protested over a bad road in their area.
The road, which leads to neigbouring Onicha Ugbo in Aniocha North Local Government Area, they claim, was awarded about 40 years ago but was later re-awarded to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2015.
Bearing placards with several inscriptions, the residents made up of both the young and elderly, however, said the Commission has abandoned it. They called for immediate intervention, saying the road is impassable and has cost them pains for decades.
“We can longer go anywhere. We cannot go to the farm. We cannot go to the church. Many of us now have broken legs,” one of the protesters, Ngozi Onwueme, said. “Our elderly ones are now stationed permanently at home.”
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While singing and marching around the community, they called on governments at all levels to wade into the situation, accusing the NDDC of abandoning the project.
“The NDDC has come, shown face and withdrawn,” a community leader, who identified himself as Ofunne Jacob, added. “But the government made clear remarks of roads belonging to the Federal Government which they have vowed to construct in the interest of the indigenes of the place.”
But the Delta State government says it is helpless on the matter.
“We had thought that NDDC will be able to take up that while we are also concentrating on a number of other roads within that environment,” the state’s Information and Culture Commissioner, Charles Aniagwu, told Channels Television.
“But it is just quite unfortunate that the NDDC has not done what they needed to do and in that wise, we cannot also immediately take over the road because the moment a road has been approved by a particular agency, in this case, the NDDC, if you just wake up and jump into the same road, what if the contractor mobilises to site tomorrow?”
While the state government’s response may do little to assuage residents of the communities, they may have no option but resort to self-help and reach out to the NDDC to address the issue.