The five communities that make up Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State have cried out to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to come to their rescue following the abandonment of the Ebonyi River Bridge at Ikem which rehabilitation was started by the former governor, Mr Sullivan Chime but was stopped half way about two years ago.
The people of the area who pleaded with Governor Ugwuanyi to complete the abandoned bridge project pointed out that it links the council headquarters that connects the entire council area, saying that the makeshift bridge presently constitutes a danger to road users.
They said that the project has been completely abandoned as the contractor has moved out of site with all the equipment and materials that he was using to execute the bridge project.
The people from the council area who spoke with Oriental News said that they were worried that the contractor handling the project had removed all equipment and materials from the site to another site in a nearby local government, expressing fears that the work may have been permanently abandoned by the state government.
The people, therefore, pleaded to the state government to make the contractor return to site and complete the project before the communities in the area are completely cut off from their neighbours.
A hanging bridge built shortly after the Nigeria/Biafra war had collapsed last year in the area, cutting off the communities until contributions by individuals from the area were made to fix a one-way emergency bridge that is now also on the verge of collapsing if an urgent measure was not taken to complete the already started concrete bridge that is about 70 per cent completion.
The Chairman of Isi-Uzo Progressives Forum (IPF), Chief Gabriel Nnaji, told Oriental News that the bridge had collapsed completely last year which brought sufferings, hardship and pains to the people before the now existing makeshift bridge was put in place.
“That makeshift bridge is once again showing signs of another collapse and we observed Governor Ugwuanyi’s kind attempt to complete the concrete span bridge but quickly withdrew, leading to the contractor’s total withdrawal from site with all equipment and materials.
“Our worry is that the contractor took the materials and equipment to a new site in a nearby local government, giving us the impression that the completion of a lasting Isi-Uzo bridge across Ebonyi River is not in near sight.
“We are also worried that there is no other state project going on in any other part of Isi-Uzo local government, yet this critical old project like the Ebonyi Bridge is stillborn.
“We are, therefore, appealing to the state government to make effort and return the contractor to site before the area is cut off again, which if it does, will bring about pain and increased feeling of marginalization among the good people of Isi-Uzo,” Nnaji said.
A lecturer at that Federal College of Education Ehamufu, Dr Chuks Nwadiogo lamented over the state of the bridge, urging the government to do the needful to enable the contractor return to site and complete the project because of the importance of the bridge to the people and other road users.
According to him, “some of us that go to school from Enugu use the road since Ehamufu-Nkalagu road has collapsed, so we now use Ikem, Neke road to Enugu and if the bridge finally collapses, we will be trapped because that is the only access road. The bridge needs urgent attention because of the pressure on that road. We plead with the state government since government is a continuum to bring back the contractor to ensure the completion of the concrete project”.
A staff of the local government, Mrs Uzoamka Ugwuodo also lamented over the hardship the workers have been subjected to since the hanging bridge collapsed, saying that not every vehicle could cross the makeshift bridge.
She said that the earlier the abandoned bridge is completed the better for the workers who use the road on a daily basis, saying “we always have fear that this small makeshift bridge will soon collapse and when it collapses that will be the end of work because we can’t fly to the office”.
A staff of the construction company who pleaded anonymity said that the firm deserves commendation for executing the job up to the level it did before demobilizing from site, stating that funding was a major problem inhibiting the completion of the project.
“Let me tell you that apart from the little mobilization fee that was given to us by the Sullivan government, we did not receive any other money; we used our money to get the job to the level it is now which is just remaining to cross the beams and the work will be over. We generated two certificates yet nothing was given to us,” he explained.
The staff also explained that the job they relocated to do at Udenu Local Government Area was not a direct job, but a sublet, stating that once the government releases money to the company, they would return to site to complete the bridge project.