New Telegraph

Enugu gunning for its first flyover

Enugu, the capital of Enugu State, nicknamed ‘the Coal City State’ due to the discovery of coal at the Ogbete mine in 1909, is the political capital of not only the old Eastern Region but also the present South East geopolitical zone of the country.

It is a city well planned with the best network of internal roads and streets within the region, courtesy of former Premier of Easter Region, Dr. Michael Okpara. No wonder till date, Enugu remains home for the ‘who’s who’ in Igbo land, also owing to its ambience and status as the most secured state in the region.

Aside from the four flyovers across the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway which terminated at the intersection known as ‘Naira Triangle’ along Enugu-Abakaliki road; there is no flyover in the Enugu metropolis. With the burgeoning population and city expansion over the years, residents of the state have been experiencing terrible traffic congestions and hold ups at nearly every roundabout and intersections in recent years. Indeed, many busy intersections and roundabouts have been fingered as requiring flyovers to ease the gridlock in such places.

They are Mayor Bus Stop along ever busy Agbani Road, the Holy Ghost/Chris Chemist Bus stops along the Ogbete Main Market, the ‘New Haven Junction, Abakpa junction, T-Junction along Nike road, and Eke-Obinagu junction by NNPC depot, Emene, along Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway, among others. It was therefore with great excitement that residents of Enugu received the announcement by the state government last year that a flyover would be constructed at the intractable Abakpa Nike/Nike Lake/T-Junction road, in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state. But still, many received the news with doubts, apparently with the feeling that it was the usual unfulfilled promises associated with governments in Nigeria over the ages.

However, not only that the Enugu State Government under the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi made a provision for the flyover in the 2021 budget but the state government announced the official take off of the construction work on the project on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The project is expected to cost about N3.6 billion.

The state’s Commissioner for Information, Nnanyelugo Chidi Aroh, who spoke when he inspected the project site’s readiness for work commencement, alongside the Commissioners for Works and Infrastructure and Housing, Engr. Greg Nnaji and Hon. Vitus Okechi, respectively, declared the desire of the state government, in completing the project before the end of the Ugwuanyi administration. Aroh reiterated the government’s order, announcing a shutdown of the road by midnight of Monday, March 8, stands. He directed road users to make use of the designated alternative routes to avoid disturbing the construction workers.

The Commissioner for Information noted that he led a state government delegation to also inspect the construction yard of the company handling the flyover, IDC Construction Limited, adding that all was now set for the commencement of the project in earnest.

He added that the contractor assured them that he would deliver the project before the end of 2021. The Information Commissioner said the flyover project, when completed, would ease traffic gridlock in the area. Also speaking, the Works Commissioner, Nnaji, stated that the contractor had been fully mobilized and was ready for the take-off of the project, pointing out that five roads have been designated for public use as diversions.

Ugwuanyi had inspected the designated road diversions to ensure their accessibility and readiness prior to closure of the Nike Lake/T-Junction Road for construction work. Clarifying further, the Information Commissioner, Aroh, noted that the state government has erected road signs and massive billboards to redirect motorists and road users accordingly, in the affected areas.

“Part of our responsibility is to once more inform the people that we are shutting down this road by 12 midnight; we have created five diversions; the announcements have been there in the radio; at the point of each diversion, we have put road signs; we are not stopping at that, we are going to put bigger billboards; we are going to ensure that our people don’t suffer too much while this massive work is going on,” Aroh said. According to the Works Commissioner: “Our responsibility in the next 48 hours is to ensure that work starts in earnest.

Three links to T-Junction would be closed by 12 midnight today; part of why we are here is to see the preparedness of the contractor. Over there, you can see the concrete blockages; by tomorrow, the actual setting out will begin. “The state government has been very proactive in planning for this construction; mid last year, we commissioned the first by-pass, Nike Road by-pass, it is in anticipa-tion that we will do this project. From just after Nike Road, you head to Umuchigbo, Harmony Estate layout, Adoration Pilgrimage Centre and Orie Emene. It is one of the major roads that will take traffic, especially articulated vehicles. We advise all articulated vehicles to take that route.

“Then, if you are coming from NOWAS, get to Zenith Bank, UBA, you go left, then at a Roundabout, you turn and hit Dental Technology, then you tee off to Bishop Shanahan, that is on the left axis. You now meet Ugbene 2, Ugbo Ndafe, then to the Local Government Headquarters.

“If you are also coming from the Timber, very close to where we are now, we have recently put some culverts to ensure that people pass, in anticipation that this project will go through; when you pass through that place, you go through Igwe Edward Nnaji Palace, you now come to the Development Centre, you take the Old Road, and still hit Umuchigbo.

“If you are coming from Abakpa Nike, Nike Grammar School, you cross the bridge, you come to St. Theresa, you tee off to the right, to Ogwuago. From Ogwuago, you go down to Ugwuaku Layout, you are at the same Nike Lake Harmony bypass. “The collector road, the main road that takes all the traffic, we took a proactive measure to make sure that the road was done; you can now see the relevance, the vision of the Enugu State Government in doing things in order. That road was given a priority and it is now living up to expectations.”

The project manager of IDC, Mr. Youssef Zghaib, said the company was ready to hit the ground running, assuring that. We were awarded this project with the duration of one year, but we promise to do our best to deliver within less than one year for sure. “We don’t want to reach the deadline; with the promise that the funds are available, for sure we will try to deliver before the end of 2021. We deliver projects on time; we have the machines; what you see here is a very small sample of what you will see in the next two weeks.”

In a remark, the Chairman of Enugu East Local Government Area, Hon. Alex Ugwu, commended Ugwuanyi for the landmark project, stressing: “Our able governor has done all the needful. The contractor will now go to the site. Any structure he marks, we will inform the owner to remove it.” Meanwhile, some concerned citizens who spoke on condition of anonymity while commending the state government for the project, expressed some doubts about the ability of the contractor and government supervisors in delivering a quality project as and when due.

“A project of this magnitude would need to begin with the end in mind, that’s being proactive. Government can budget a lot of money for projects but if not managed efficiently and effectively, it could still fail, and when this sort of project fails, the bulk of the blame would go to our governor. Nobody will be interested at that point of failure whom the Contractor was or those expected to supervise the project. All fingers would point to the governor. “Aside the above highlights on Project Management, we have the issues of Quality Assurance and Quality Control as other critical ingredients required for any project to succeed.

“Finally, it is my hope that those whose existing structures are located along the way of this necessary Flyover Bridge would have been long notified and compensated where applicable, especially if they obtained building approvals from the local council authority in the past. Where this is not the case, the government should take adequate steps in relocating and compensating them as real-work commences today.” There are also those who are worried that the contractor is the same contractor that handled the three flyovers in Awka, Anambra State, which are already showing signs of separation and structural weakness.

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