There is an Igbo adage that says: “Odin du egbule onweya.” Literarily meaning the living should not bother too much about his current circumstances as he does not know what the future holds in stock for him.
This perhaps applies to Arochukwu Kingdom which is generally associated with deplorable roads (both access and internal). Also, “Odigi uzo esi aga Aro ndi nso” is a common adage to illustrate the seeming far distance of Arochukwu from the outside world due to deplorable state of roads leading to the ancient town.
But for the present, that situation is gradually but steadily being consigned to the bin of history as roads to Arochukwu are being fixed thereby reducing time of movement to and from the town and dismissing notion that “Odigi uzo esi aga Aro di nso”. A journey that hitherto took about three hours from Umuahia to Arochukwu can now be done in less than one hour thirty minutes.
Travelling from Aba to Arochukwu through Ikot Ekpene – Nkana road in the rainy season was impossibility. Instead, the journey must be through Aba – Umuahia –Bende – Ohafia – Arochukwu route, consuming about five hours. Experience of commuters on the very notorious “Ugwu Mma Bassey” along the Nkana road cannot be easily forgotten. But today, and for all seasons for that matter, the story has changed for the better as one can journey from Aba to Arochukwu through the same route in a record one hour thirty minutes. “Ugwu Mma Bassey” is no longer a nightmarish experience.
Though yet uncompleted, the Nkana-Arochukwu road is the best route for commuters from Rivers, Imo and Abia states to Arochukwu. Even commercial drivers plying Umuahia-Arochukwu road have jettisoned both Ohafia-Arochukwu and Ozu Abam-Ndi Okereke-Arochukwu (OKOBO) roads as they have discovered that Umuahia-Bende-Itumbuzo-Odoro Ikpe-Nkana road is the shortest route to Arochukwu. But for the Abia segment of the Bende-Odoro Ikpe road, journey between Umuahia and Arochukwu will take roughly one hour. For now it takes about one hour twenty minutes, courtesy of the magnanimity of Akwa Ibom State government.
Ohafia-Arochukwu and Ozu Abam-Ndi Okereke-Arochukwu (OKOBO) roads still give commuters nightmares, particularly OKOBO which commuters must have to exercise some patience till late October or November before they can put their cars on that axis. The claim by the Abia State Government that road has been completed is mere propaganda. The bridge across the Igu River has been completed. Besides that, motoring along the OKOBO road during the rainy season is a nightmare. No one dares put his car on that road during the rains.
Of great excitement among residents of Arochukwu are the Arochukwu internal roads which early this year received unprecedented attention. The Atani-Isimkpu road received a face-lift as it has been re-asphalted while Isinkpu-Ugwuavo has been completely fixed with asphalt overlay. There is progress on Ibom-Avia Ovuru-Amaikpe (Obinkita) ring road and Asaga- Amangwu roads. About 80% of the roads have had their stone base completed.
However, work has however stopped on the roads as workers and construction equipment have been withdrawn from the sites, fuelling speculations that the jobs may have been abandoned. But a source told the Aro News that work did not stop but that the rains compelled the contractor to suspend work till the month of August when the rains are likely to subside. Another source opined that lack of funds compelled the contractor to suspend work, believing that work on the roads would continue as soon as the contractor is paid for job already done and certified.
Aro News sought the views of the contractor handling the road, Chief Chibuike Achigbu (Akacha), Managing Director of Solberg Construction Company Limited who informed the paper that work wasn’t abandoned on the road but his firm was waiting for the rains to subside before going back to site.
He informed the media that some irate Aro youths attacked and stabbed two of his staff to almost the point of death before the military intervened. The grouse of the youths Aro News investigation revealed was that they first complained that latrite was been dug from their Ogo and taken to fix the roads of other Ogos while their roads remained in bad state. As if that was not enough trouble, the same irate youths demanded that their road be fixed before others, even when the said road is not among the ones penciled down for construction, this situation then led to the staff of Solberg being attacked.
Chief Achigbu also pointed out that his firm had challenges of transporting materials to Arochukwu due to the poor state of roads leading into the town as many transporters shyed away from coming to Arochukwu.
Excitement and Joy
Meanwhile, it has been excitement and joy among Arochukwu people and residents of the town. Persons interviewed by Aro News expressed deep delight that at the very long last God has remembered Arochukwu saying: “Odi ndu egbula onweya”
Asked about his impression on the impressive work done on Isimkpu-Ugwuavo road, Prince Kanu Okoronkwo Kanu, regent (Arianzu) of Ugwuavo village said: “The goodies and blessings of life are so much sought for hence it is natural that nobody throws away such sweet taste on the lips”.
Mazi Kanu is all praises for Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, the Senator representing Abia North Zone in the National Assembly for attracting the project for his people and other users of the road which has been deplorable for decades.
Some of the reactions of the people are reproduced below:
IKECHUKWU IJOMA NWOSU AKOMA, Isimkpu Village
Things are getting better in Aro in the area of road development. Our leaders and contractors are doing some good job for the people. So far, so good. We hear people like Chief Chikwendu Udensi, Dr Alex Otti and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa are trying for Aro. All we are saying is that God gives them good health and long lives so that they will be able to sustain the good works they are currently doing.
For me, the most important thing is “live and let live”. Since God in His infinite wisdom selected Otti, Chikwe and Mao as our political leaders, we pray that He blesses them, give them the wisdom to get into governance for the benefit of the people. It is a thing of joy that the poor condition of our roads has changed for the better.
EBENEZER EMESIOBUM, Chairman, Ezeagwu Kindred Union meeting
In fact, concerning the fixing of Arochukwu internal roads, we thank God for remembering us this time around. May the peace and honour of God rest on whoever facilitated the good job going on. God’s blessings are his. However, we have heard two versions of the story: we heard that it was Dr Alex Otti and later, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa. Whoever, the two are our children. But I believe it is Mao because of Isimkpu-Atani and Isimkpu-Ugwuavo roads. He is a native of Atani and a member of Anglican Church, Ugwuavo which access road was too bad.
I am most delighted over the Isimkpu-Ugwuavo road because it passes through All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral. It is a thing of joy that that road has been fixed.
CHUKWUDI OKORONKWO OKORAFOR, Farmer
We are happy with what is going on some internal roads. Senator Mao Ohuabunwa is the brain behind the good job; from Isimkpu to Iyivara de George in Atani Agbo in Atani has been done. But I have some reservations in the sense that some roads are neglected. For example, from Mgbala Ekpe Atani, through the old road known as Ngodo Nwamuo that leads to Amuvi and Atani Primary School were not done. I protested to Mao on behalf of my people, Umu Nkaa in Atani, asking whether we no longer belong to Atani as to be excluded from the goodies due to Atani.
On the other internal roads in Aro, I am also happy with the development, especially the Isimkpu-Ugwuavo road. I can recount the experience of Anglican Church Ugwuavo parishioners on that road, especially during the rains. So, I am very happy that the road has been done; as also as the cost of transportation has reduced considerably. Same for Ibom-Avia ovuru-Amaikpe ring road. We really thank God for His blessings.
JACOB OKON, Okada rider
We feel happy that the roads are being built, but only that somehow work stopped. We don’t know what actually happened; why work stopped. Even some of the equipment have been withdrawn. What I want to say to the person that attracted these good jobs, I mean Dr Alex Otti, we only pray to God for him to be seen as one of the great Arochukwu sons because he is doing so much for his people now that he is not in government much more when he will be on seat. He will surely do better than he is doing now. I am always on his side and I will give him every support I have. There is no other politician in Aro that shows us love.
PRINCE KANU OKORONKWO KANU, Ag. Eze Ogo Ugwuavo
O nwere onye etiri sugar n’onu ya gbupu ya?I am exceedingly happy. I salute our able Senator, Mao Ohuabunwa. He is able. The people of Ugwuavo are filled with joy, especially I, their traditional ruler. Before, people declined coming to Ugwuavo village for whatever purpose due to the very deplorable state of our road. Today, our road is “Express Way” as even Okada riders take delight in plying Ugwuavo road. May God bless Senator Mao Ohuabunwa. Ugwuavo will continue to support him on all corners. There is nothing as satisfying as one remembering his own people. We are happy with him.
By Our Correspondent