Enugu: Worries over decaying road infrastructure
In the third week of March this year, a commercial bus suffered break failure, the driver lost control and rammed the vehicle into a bus shelter beside the entrance of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, Enugu State.
The impact of the crash was so enormous that it uprooted the bus shelter, while the glass windows of the vehicle were shattered and the vehicle wrecked.As the driver and his passengers were locked in a heated argument over the cause of the incident, officials of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) arrived the scene and carted away the vehicle and its driver to the Area Command of the Nigeria Police, on Abakaliki Road.
State Commissioner for ECTDA, Chidi Aroh, later informed newsmen that the “offending driver and his vehicle would not leave the police station until an undertaking is entered on how the damaged bus stand will be repaired.”
Aroh while addressing newsmen on issues of concern in the state, further enthused that the outfit was working round the clock to ensure that the state capital remained the best in the zone, in terms of maintenance of infrastructure, installation of new ones, as well as, ensure orderliness in their usage.
However, despite these assurances, the damaged IMT bus shelter among other road furniture built by the immediate past administration of Sullivan Chime, have continued to deteriorate daily.
For instance, along major roads and street junctions, bus stops, streetlights, traffic lights, traffic barriers among others, have been thoroughly vandalised.It is imperative to mention that one area, which the last administration gave priority attention to, was the cleaning up of the state capital, and the installation of traffic and streets lights.To ensure that these facilities functioned effectively, that administration also provided for alternative power supply, in the absence of public power supply.
Now, only two years after, these facilities, which apart from their utilitarian value, also enhanced the aesthetics of the capital city, are paid scant attention, as they are neither maintained, replaced nor repaired.
As a matter of fact, some parts of the state capital, which had functional streetlights before, are now enveloped in darkness because these facilities have either malfunctioned, or have been vandalised.
Traffic lights mounted at various roundabouts are not spared this negligence as only a few of them are still working, even though intermittently. Some that even stopped working in the dying days of Chime’s administration, are still in that state even as no new ones have been installed.
Also in terrible condition are barriers erected along some major roads and strategic areas like the 82 Division; Zik Avenue Bridge; Coal Camp (Mgbemene area) among others by the last administration.
These barriers have either been vandalised or carted away by unscrupulous members of the public. A visit to some areas where they were mounted revealed that some broken parts are still strewn about, and they contribute to littering the environment.
These barriers, which were fitted with lights that come to life once darkness falls in order to warn motorists against running into them are now mere shadows of themselves, and constitute a great deal to defacing the city.
On several occasions in the budgets of the previous administration, allocations were made to fix the facilities, expand them, and build new ones within the city. But this is no longer so.
If there is anything, careless motorists just kept on running into the bus shelters, a development that has ensured that a good number of those that are still standing are either partly damaged, battered, dirty and smelling, or are plastered with posters. Most times, the security lights in the bus shelters have either been destroyed, or removed.
A resident of the state capital, John Ugwu, who deplored the development, stated that the rate, which these facilities are abandoned, “a time will come when we will not remember that they ever existed in the state.”
He said it would be a serious setback for the state should the facilities built with taxpayers’ money “which have added to Enugu’s aesthetics are allowed to rot away.”“One thing most administrations in the state are noted for is their penchant for abandoning existing facilities to rot away. I am one of those who commended these facilities when they were put in place because they added value to Enugu. Today, that attraction is fast diminishing because in the entire state capital, there are very few roundabouts, where the traffic lights are in good working condition, yet almost every junction has a traffic light mounted, even as many of them have not functioned for a minute since they were installed. This is really disheartening because, little or no effort is being made to put those that have packed up back to use. If we continue this way, I see these things vanishing before our very eyes someday,” he lamented.
“Sometime ago, there was a functional fountain/water fall on Bisalla Road. That project appear to have been forgotten. It is the only water fountain in the state, and it is quite close to the Government House, but for several months now, the place has suffered neglect. You can no longer see the beauty of the fountain. So, I think the government should wake up and look for ways of maintaining these infrastructure,” Ugwu added.
State Commissioner for Transport, Vitus Okechi, attributed the ugly state of these facilities to the activities of vandals, stressing that vital components that control traffic lights in Enugu metropolis are being removed or tampered with daily.Calling on residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement around these facilities to law enforcement agencies, he explained that government was doing all within its powers to get them back to work.
Okechi, in a statement noted that the ugly activities of the vandals, which include carting away control system batteries, cables and other sensitive equipment at night, has been consistent even when adequate security measures were provided to secure the equipment in different locations.
He said the statement became necessary in view of the need to explain to the public especially road users, the cause of the “temporary” shutdown of traffic lights in some parts of the state.
Aroh, who spoke in the same vein explained that his office had taken it upon itself to ensure the cleanliness of the bus stops among other infrastructure in the state, stressing, “If we are not maintaining them, they won’t be working. Anybody in Enugu will attest to the fact that that in the past six months, we have given priority to our bus stops. We are cleaning and labeling them. I have a standing team that is 24 hours on the road monitoring the situation with our bus stops. The problem is that our people have a bad attitude to public facilities. This is to the point that even when these things are working, they will look for ways of vandalising them, so as to give government a bad name,” he explained.
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