(Ike Ona writes from Enugu)
Mbu Akpochi, Mbu Amon , Mbu Agudene, and Akpoga Mbu are boundary communities between Nsukka Local Government Area and Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu state. It seems that the four communities are too far for the previous administrations to remember the need for an access road to the communities, although it generates loads of agricultural products for the people of Enugu State. The lives of people in these communities have remained backward and developments have not changed even after so many years of existence. They remain cut off from the rest of the world due to lack of bridge and motorable road that aids even development of communities.
The existence of these Rivers: Eme, Amanyi, Ama, Okpachi and Ajina make movement especially during rainy season miserable for the people. Hence they are usually isolated during rainy season. Rivers like Amanyi and Eme overflows all through the rainy season. The four communities which are components of Mbu Ezeutazhi Town and are situated few kilometers away from Enugu capital city; the university town (Nsukka) and Isi-Uzo Local Government headquarters. As no Motorable Road is constructed across the communities, the residents experience lots of inconvenience that snowball to incommunicado.
During dry season, residents walk in Amanyi River with decline in water. However, during rainy season, only the strong and brave persons cross the Amanyi River using ropes tied across the river banks. A lifeline is usually tied to the waist of the person crossing the River by some persons at the shore in case of emergency.
Unfortunately, majority of the residents eke out their living in farm activities. Inspite of hardwork on farm land, the farmers failed to reap the fruit. Owing to vagaries of nature, the farm products are affected with rot disease. The farmers grow Yam, Cassava, several varieties of Cereal, vegetable and many kinds of fruits.
The residents have to trek to a very long distance, carrying the same farm products on their head to sell it in city. These towns have not seen good roads nor a good Bridge which could have linked them easily with the capital city and the Local government headquarters and other big cities around. These four communities are reeling under darkness for many years. The four communities have grown over the years, and now there are some 25,000 people, mostly farmers living there.
A good observation of the four communities shows that construction of motorable roads holds the key to future hope and development of the communities. Rural communities are places for a way out of pollution. The air there is pure and the way of life is simple. The major problems of these four communities are alienation from the major cities which was as a result of lack of access road to the communities within.
Introspection on the importance of motorable road across the communities depicts that the communities were ignored on development front by the successive Governments. Successive Governments have ignored the area on the importance of connecting them to their council Headquarters and the State capital despite their participation in the elections. The last time an attempt was made towards constructing access road across the communities was in early 80’s by then Civilian Governor of Anambra State. This attempt was abruptly jettisoned after the hopes of the people were raised.
The indigenes have been demanding since ages the construction of the Bridges and motorable road across the communities but their long-pending demand has never been addressed. Being time and again neglected, they have always sought backward area status to their area but in vain. The indigenes usually say that no one asks after them once campaigns and voting are over.
With no good access road, people of the area go through a lot of trouble as they have to walk miles and pay so much money to reach their Local Government council Headquarters and the capital city . The excruciating experience associated with the non-construction of access road across the communities for the past years especially those who need immediate attention and pregnant women sucks. They find it difficult to access the health facilities at the, State capital and council headquarters The odd result is that these four communities alienated by absence of motorable and Bridge have failed to develop on modern lines.
The people of Mbu Ezeutazhi echoed that the major demands they present to politicians during campaign are the construction of motorable roads and Bridge across the communities. Hence, they have cried out to both the state and federal governments to build a concrete bridge and tar their roads to ameliorate the hardship they are facing but to no avail. The reaction of the residents of the four communities is that of despair, anguish and hopelessness.
Today it is a different story. After more than three centuries of anguish and neglect, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who has just spent four years in office in partnership with the World Bank has put back smiles on the faces of the people by the ongoing massive road construction from Mbu Agudene axis through Mbu Akpochi, Mbu Amon, Akpoga Mbu to Ogbodu Aba. Currently the despairing storyline the four communities have changed. Their tale started changing when the state governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi awarded the construction of quality access road across the four communities. The Governor has a knack for rural development and vowed to open-up the rural areas which were one of his underlined promises to the people of Enugu State during the inauguration of his administration in May 2015.
The road acclaimed as the Road of Hope by the people of Mbu Ezeutazhi is adjudged by the people as one of the best democratic dividends to be evidenced in the area since Nigeria Independence in 1960.The road holds the key to future hope and development of the four communities alienated by infrastructural neglect. The benefits of the motorable road are enormous. The projects will impact greatly on the communities. With the road project, travel time will reduce significantly.
By connecting the four communities with the capital city and other major cities, the road will transform the four communities into a borough of Isi-Uzo Local Government Area. The road is of strategic importance as it traverses major food-producing communities and farm settlements, and would boost socio-economic activities in the area. When the construction of the road is completed, it would attract and enhance effective harnessing of human and material resources as well as bridge the gap between urban and rural areas and fast-track physical development and attract investments to the area. As the most critical infrastructure in the area, it will accelerate delivery of farm inputs and evacuation of product and reduce the cost of transportation and rural urban drift.
The positive impact of the construction of the quality road and bridge across the four communities to the capital city is that it will reduce cost and improve the movement of people, goods and services from different locations, and then, reduce the cost of production which in turn increases production output, transport cost is lowered which enhances better transport services, which in turn reduced prices of products and thus, boost inter urban exchange of services making it possible for commercial agriculture, industrialization, and employment opportunities in the four communities endowed with solid minerals and natural gas.
The people of Mbu Ezeutazhi in Isi-Uzo Local Government area will eternally be grateful to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led administration in Enugu State for coming to their aid after long years of alienation and neglect which had made them pass through unpleasant experiences for many centuries. Their joy knew no bound when the Governor passed through the road this year. It was similar to the joy of Simeon in the Bible when Jesus was presented to him. Hence, the eldest man in Mbu Akpochi was quoted to have said that “seeing the road construction completed, that he would happily depart in peace to inform the ancestors that he met a New Mbu Ezeutazhi”.
It is no more unclear anymore that Enugu State is currently in the Hands of God.