By Joshua Williams
The deplorable state of the Warri-Benin highway is making life unbearable for the people of Oghara, Mosogar, Sapele and others in Delta Central Senatorial District.
Residents, who depend mainly on the highway for transportation, are lamenting over the terrible shape of the road, which has cut them from the rest of the world.
Two major areas of concern for the people are the entry point from Ologbo/Ugbenu, which is the boundary between Edo and Delta states, and the Elume axis, a few kilometers to Warri. There are also concerns about the bad condition of the link way from Agbor, Abavo, Abraka, Eku and Warri.
While Oghara is the hometown of former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, the current Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, is from Orogun clan, Ughelli North LGA in the same Central Senatorial District.
Some of the residents who spoke with The Guardian yesterday lamented that the road had been rendered impassable even before the rainy season started.
“Oghara is now completely cut off from the rest of the world,” Chief Duncan Ewhere said yesterday. The people of Ethiope-West LGA of Delta are currently in quagmire. The Ologbo entry point and Sapele axis have been completely cut off. No one comes in, and we can’t go out. Life is unbearable for us here. We need the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his counterpart in Edo State, Godwin Obaseki as quickly as possible.”
Another resident, Aghogho Mena Efe, described the people’s new method of operation to survive in the area thus: “Some of us now operate like the early men by engaging the services of hefty men to cross the ‘borders.’ If you must carry out any business transaction between Oghara and Ologbo, you are confronted with two options. It is either you pay those hefty men and climb their back to cross the bad spot, which is now our border, or you have to take the risk by yourself. In most cases, those who take the risk ended up falling into the water and injuring themselves in the process because the ground is slippery.
“At times, we pay between N1,500 to N2,000 just to climb the back of the hefty men to cross the bad spot. It also depends on your negotiating power. The bad spot at Ologbo has been a no-go area for motorists since June. It is the same thing for those going to Warri. The bad spot at Elume has been there close to two years now and nothing concrete has been done. We are in serious trouble here,” Efe stated.
Also speaking yesterday, former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ethiope-West LGA, Princewill Ejogharado, said the hardship being experienced by the people as a result of the collapse of Ologbo/Ugbenu axis poses a great threat, not only to the indigenes of Oghara, but the entire south-south region.
“Ologbo is a boundary town between Edo and Delta. This highway is the only link from Benin City to Warri, Ughelli, Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, as well as Port Harcourt in Rivers State. You cannot transact any form of business in the entire south-south region without having a link to the Benin-Warri highway. It is a big shame that the federal and state governments have to neglect this important road for so long. Delta State is a major oil producing state, and one should expect that prompt attention would be given to this road. The government needs to act very fast,” Ejogharado stated.
Another resident, Eburu Omojefe, an executive member of Ogharefe Secondary School Old Boys Association, asked: “Benin/Warri road has collapsed, Benin/Abraka road has collapsed and Warri/Agbor road has equally collapsed. Who will come to our rescue now?”
It was learnt yesterday that following the deplorable state of the road, the traditional Ugbenu market, which usually opens every Wednesday, had been put off for some time now because traders from Benin and its environs cannot gain access from Ologbo end of the expressway.
In July this year, no fewer than 17 persons were burnt to death and many others injured when a fuel tanker fell and exploded at the bad spot. The tanker burst into flames after it fell into a ditch between Koko Junction in Ugbenu and Ologbo axis of the Benin/Sapele expressway.