4th October, 2021
By Leonard Okachie
Students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, on Monday, took to the streets of Umuahia to protest.
The students protested against the total dilapidation of the Abia end of the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road which passes through the university’s main gate.
The students, who were out in large numbers, chanted different songs, barricaded the road, hence compounded the traffic gridlock in the area.
They carried placards with different inscriptions, such as “Fix Our Roads”, “Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road Na Death Trap”, #Justice for Queen”, amongst others.
The protest was instigated by the death of Miss Chidinma Ogbonna, a 500-level student of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management.
Ogbonna was reportedly killed on the road on Sunday night by a truck conveying iron rods.
Another female student, who recently completed her final year examination, was also killed on the road about a month ago.
However, the visibly angry students said the dilapidation of the road was causing them and other road users untold difficulties.
According to them, the situation has led to a hike in the transport fare in the area by more than 100 percent.
They also said that lives and property, worth billions of naira, were being destroyed on the road
The Federal Government in 2019 awarded the 50-kilometer road for reconstruction at the cost of over N13.2 billion.
It was expected to be completed and delivered in 48-month but abandoned allegedly because of the non-release of funds.
The President of the Students Union Government, Mr. Chukwuma Ogochukwu, said the peaceful protest was to draw the federal government’s attention to the poor state of the road.
Ogochukwu regretted that the bad road had claimed many lives, including students of the university.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, expressed sadness over the death of the university’s students and thanked the students for ensuring the protest was peaceful.
Iwe, who addressed the protesters at the end of the exercise on the campus, expressed concern over the sorry state of the road.
He said he was aware that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) had given approval for palliative work to be done on the road, following his appeal for its intervention.
He, therefore, appealed to the students and entire university community to sheath their swords and await FERMA’s action.
Meanwhile, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu has directed PUMECO Construction Company to immediately fix all the failed portions of the road.
The Commissioner for Information, Chief John Kalu, said this while reacting to the students’ protest in an interview with newsmen.
Kalu said the company was expected to begin work on the road on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of residents of Umuahia has appealed to the governor to extend the rehabilitation to internal roads in the capital city.’
The people said that virtually all the internal roads in the Umuahia metropolis had been washed away, posing a serious challenge to motorists and other road users.