That the roads in Imo State need urgent attention of the state government is a true open to all. In fact, the roads are the most visible of all the infrastructural dilapidations in the state since its creation in 1976. However, the present administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma on emergence in January declared its readiness to tackle the hydra-headed infrastructural problems of the state without fear. He knew his administration could only achieve in many other areas if the issue of collapsed roads is given priority like this, to a large extent has a great multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy and the people’s life. This realization informed the appointment of Barr. Ralph Nwosu, a man with deep knowledge and experience in road construction, as the commissioner for works. Barr. Ralph Nwosu is not a stranger to public service and road construction, having served in the same office in the administration of Chief Ikedi Ohakim which lasted between 2007-2011.
In a recent chat with a group of senior media professionals in the state, Barr. Ralph Nwosu took time to address various aspects of the current state of Imo roads. He expressed his dismay that in the year 2020, Imolites and their government are still talking about roads, even in the capital city of Owerri when attention should rather be focused on the rural areas. For the Commissioner, if past administrations in the state had prioritized the issue of quality road construction, the scenario would have been different today. However, nothing would deter him from giving Imolites the best possible in road construction. Commenting on the now collapsed Yar’adua drive, off Owerri-Onitsha expressway, Barr. Nwosu noted that the road was not constructed on a stone base but is rather a laterite road not meant to carry heavy-duty vehicles, but the reverse has been the case. As a measure, the commissioner said the was considering suggesting to the government to collect tolls on the road to cater for its maintenance. These feeder roads have now become much in use because roads are bad. The Commissioner observed that if 6 to 7 roads in the capital city of Owerri could be good enough, the problem of roads in the city would be over as this would have a big multiplier effect on vehicular movement in the city. As a patriot, Commissioner Nwosu said he intended to handle the issue of road construction in the state and other functions of his ministry with passion, just like he would handle his personal business. Of course, passion drives achievement.
One would recollect that shortly after the Supreme Court settled the matter of the Imo State governorship election and pronounced Senator Hope Uzodimma as governor, Nigeria went into a lockdown in March which was eased at the end of June. This was followed by heavy rains till date as evidenced by all. The current state of heavy downpour almost on a daily basis has further revealed the extent of dilapidation of roads in the state. A wise road maker like Commissioner Ralph Nwosu knows that nothing can be done in the present circumstance except to embark on palliatives to ease the suffering of the people. A comparison between Port Harcourt road of today and what it used to clearly show the depth of understanding of Commissioner Nwosu on road matters. The palliatives on Port Harcourt road have been of immense benefit to all. Major roads like Akanchawa, MCC road and Relief Market road have all been affected and delayed by the rain. However, the Commissioner promised that as the rains subside, his Ministry’s recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts would commence in full swing. To this effect, he urged Imolites to exercise a little patience as the fault is obviously not from the government.
On the Naze-Nekede-Ihiagwa-obinze road, commissioner Nwosu informed that the contractors have done their own assessment and that the government would do theirs. He added that those contractors had been paid a huge amount of money and after all assessments, if they have been overpaid, then the government would ask the bank for a refund of the difference, as all payments were made through the bank. He assured that no money would be lost and that the long road connecting various communities and also serving many federal establishments would soon be recovered.
Barr. Nwosu did not hide his joy at the news of popular construction company, Julius Berger coming into Imo State. He stressed that he was celebrating after the present administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with Julius Berger because in 2009 when he was Commissioner for Works, that administration had made efforts to bring Julius Berger into the state but the construction giants had refused, doubting if the state could actually pay them. Nwosu informed that the design from Julius Berger was almost complete. The administration, according to Nwosu, had agreed with the construction company to do the design of Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe roads and if the actual cost of the construction of those roads would be beyond the financial capacity of the state, then they would pay for the design and look for a cheaper option to construct the roads. However, the Commissioner added that the state government was ready to give Imolites the best possible, irrespective of the cost.
Barr. Nwosu lamented the untold hardship being experienced by motorists at the collapsed spot around Otulu, near Mgbidi. Onitsha road was not properly supervised, otherwise, they would not have directed all waters in that neighbourhood to that spot. According to him, supervision is of paramount importance.
For those passing through Akabo, along Okigwe road, the Commissioner noted that those constructing that part of the road slowed down work when they heard of Julius Berger coming. He assured them that the coming of Julius Berger would not affect their payment as necessary arithmetic would determine the amount of work done by them. Commissioner Ralph Nwosu is obviously one of the best brains in the present Shared Prosperity government of Senator Hope Uzodimma. Well suited for his office, he is a typical case of a round peg in a round hole. Imolites have been patient but their patience would soon be translated into shouts of alleluia as massive road revolution is about to commence.