Abia State government has accused the federal government of not allowing it to fix dilapidated federal highways in the State.
This is even as Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has commiserated with the family and students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike on the death of a student of the institution in a road accident.
The female student, Miss Chidinma Ogbonna, popularly known as Queen, died on Sunday evening along Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal highway when a truck hit her while trying to avoid pot holes on the road.
The death of the student resulted to widespread protest by MOUAU students who blocked the federal highway and some major streets of Umuahia.
But reacting to the student’s death and resultant protests by students, Abia State government said the federal government’s refusal to allow it fix federal roads in the State should be blamed for travails of commuters.
Commissioner for information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu stated this in a message he released on the incident, explaining that the Abia government previous efforts to repair bad federal roads in the State were all rejected by the federal government as Abia contractors were ordered to leave the sites.
Okiyi acknowledged the travails of travellers on the road but assured that Abia State government had directed a contractor to immediately fix identified bad portions of the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene highway with or without approval from the federal government.
The release read in part, ” Apart from Aba-Ikot Ekpene and Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal highways that are in terrible conditions, other federal roads leading to our major commercial and agricultural hubs such as Abe-Port Harcourt segment of the Enugu-Port Harcourt highway, Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Ohafia road, Arochukwu-Ohafia-Bende road among others, are death traps that cannot, by any standard, be described as roads”.
Abia State Government moved to fix the Osisioma-NNPC depot road in Aba, belonging to the federal government, two years ago and after working on more than 1km of the road, the federal ministry of works sent a letter directing the Abia State government to leave the federal road which they claimed to have been awarded for reconstruction.
Okiyi continued, “Two years down the line, absolutely nothing has been done as the federal contractor claims he is yet to be funded. Our appeal to allow us to fix the key roads for a future refund fell on deaf ears”.
“Governor Ikpeazu received information that an articulated truck fell along the bad portion of Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal road killing a student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, identified as Queen.
He has directed the state ministry of works to mobilize Pumeco Construction Company to move in and implement palliative repairs along the bad portions of that important road with or without approval from federal ministry of works”, he said.