By Ikenna Orioha
As Nekede Mechanic Village, Owerri, comes to life again, residents of the area are worried over the sordid environment and deplorable road which they say slows economic activities, causing them hardship, suffering and agony.
Notably, Nekede Mechanic Village is one of the oldest and popular mechanic hubs in Imo State where automobile workshops and parts are located.
Corporate bodies, government officials, churches and individuals bring vehicles there for repair, coupling or refurbishing and maintenance. Other commercial activities like trading, welding, vulcanizing, casinos (pooling, loto, naira betting), transportation and sand excavation are thriving there. People from all walks of life live there.
The Mechanic Village is located beside Otamiri River which gives the environment natural aura. The river flows to Ihiagwa, Nekede Old Road and other environs.
Retrospectively, the Nekede Mechanic Village and other mechanic villages across Imo State were destroyed by the rescue mission administration led by Rochas Okorocha in line with his Urban Renewal Policy. About 80% residents: mechanics, (artisans) and traders were displaced and some of them relocated to neighbouring states and villages, even some stay by the road side where customers still call for services.
However, the rescue mission regime relocated the mechanics (artisans) and automobile dealers to Avu, a suburb, without making the place conducive for business activities to thrive.
News Echo reporter, who went round the Nekede Mechanic Village, discovered that some residents of the area are fully back to the area with business activities booming again amid not-too-good environment caused by the demolition and deplorable road.
The residents had called on Imo State government to come to their rescue by rehabilitating the road, building boreholes, workshops, improving electricity supply to ease their suffering and pain, all to no avail.
“My name is Ichie Oke. I am an Engineer based at Nekede Mechanic Village. I deal in Volkswagen products. Our road is in a bad state. The environment is also bad. Customers no longer patronize us after this place was demolished by Rochas Okorocha. The road causes hardship on people who live here. That is why we are calling on government to come and work on the road”.
For Engineer Uzoma, a mechanic, an indigene of Nekede community, “Governor Hope Uzodimma should please do the road so that more customers can come around for our services. Building workshops, boosting electricity and sinking boreholes will also go a long way to helping us live comfortably. As you can see, many people have left after the former administration destroyed Nekede Mechanic Village and some of the lands which were hijacked have been reclaimed by their original owners”.
“My name is Madu Omemma. I’m a mechanic. I specialized in Japanese products. 79% customers who usually patronize us here have ran away. Some are now at Alaba Market, Naze, some stay by the road side, some have relocated to neighbouring states due to the demolition carried out by the rescue mission administration. Government owes the people social amenities especially electricity, road and water. These things are more important to every human being and leaders should do the needful”.
An electrician, Christogonus Okwudiri, said that the Mechanic Village Road needs urgent attention. Journalists should continue to draw government attention towards the deplorable roads in Imo State”.
A commercial motorcyclist and resident of Nekede Mechanic Village, Martin Anodim, an indigene of Ngor- Okpala, begged government to clean up the environment, as well as rehabilitate the road to ease movement.
According to him, “we don’t have a road here. So, I want government to work on the road for us, so that our transport business will go well”.
A petty trader, who sells food stuff (eguisi, garry, fish, salt, vegetables, pepper, oil among others), Mrs. Oluchi David, who hails from Mgbidi, Oru West, frowned at the sordid environment, adding that it slows their business. “Our environment is bad. It is not good for business and our health. In fact, we have not been staying well here. Hope Uzodimma, please, come and help us”, she pleaded.
Another businessman, John Edede, who deals in gas (cooking gas), rice and pure water, told government to come and work on the road, as well as clean up the environment which he said was messed up three years ago.
Edede stressed that “the Nekede Mechanic Village Road is a major road that connects Aba, PolyNek and Ihiagwa Roads. Unfortunately, it is a no go area. Because of that, I had to increase the price of gas from #250, #300 to #400 and #500 to the detriment of my customers who have been complaining bitterly. This road was awarded by Rochas Okorocha, but he did not work on it. Ihedioha came in. He was about to work on it, but he did not last in office. “Uzodimma came in and promised that he would repair it, yet nothing has been done. May be it is due to the rains. Over 3 years this road has not been graded”.
Godwin Emeziem, an Okada operator, from Aboh Mbaise, who plies the road, maintained that “the road poses danger and health hazard to residents especially during rainy season. I call on government to swing into action to save us from suffering”.
It behoves on the Imo State government to look into the demands of the residents of Nekede Mechanic Village and rehabilitate the road, as well as clean up the sordid environment, boost electricity, sink boreholes in order to make residents live in good health as their business thrives.
While the dry season lasts, government should look inwards to do the needful to reduce suffering of the people, as well as boost the revenue of the state government.