By Paul Nwosu
One of the landmark projects of Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s administration is the proposed construction of an ultra-modern flyover with bus terminus in the fast-growing Ekwulobia urban city in Aguata Local Government Area.
It has been an inconvenience of tragic proportions over the years for people who travelled from far-flung places during festive seasons to be stranded for hours on end at the dreaded Ekwulobia roundabout. Whole families have had cause to sleep there overnight due to the intractable traffic congestion. Governor Soludo in his solution mode has since come up with the award of a contract for the construction of a flyover to put paid to the problem. A move that is akin to the Federal Government constructing the Second Niger Bridge to save commuters from being stranded during festive seasons. Incidentally, most of the commuters who would use the newly constructed bridge on the Niger will still be trapped at Ekwulobia if the flyover is not expeditiously built with urgency.
The vast majority of the people of Ekwulobia welcomed the construction of the flyover with aplomb when it was announced by Anambra State Government. In fact, Igwe Ekwulobia and the President-General of the community swiftly wrote commending the Governor for finally finding a solution to the monstrous traffic gridlocks that had bedeviled that axis.
But the gigantic projects are not coming as surprise to those who have followed Soludo’s campaign trajectory and political manifesto to Ndi-Anambra. He was resoundingly voted into office on the basis of his promise to bring about Disruptive Change and profound paradigm shift that will be driven by an extraordinary social reorientation. A man of his words, the “ekwueme” archetype that he is, Soludo began to make good his promise to Ndi-Anambra from the very beginning, and Ekwulobia Flyover with Bus Terminus happens to be one of the transformative projects he has up his sleeves.
It is therefore ironical that now that the Ekwulobia traffic logjam is about to be unlocked with such a massive project, some people who should ordinarily be remorseful for encroaching on the right-of-way of the flyover corridor are somewhat acting as if they are unduly being oppressed.
The truth of the matter is that property developers, markets and illegal structures crept into the highway thus intruding on the 45.7 meters from the centre line on both sides of the highway which is a violation of the federal statute. Are these intruders expecting this obvious impunity to go on forever unchallenged by development? Those who nursed this kind of thought can at best be described as enemies of communal progress. Apart from the fact that these grasping developers and land-grabbers have selfishly constricted and shrunk the highway to a narrow path, some of them are reluctant in making the needed sacrifice to enable the government to regenerate and recreate the environment.
It is worthy to note that strategic stakeholders’ engagements were embarked upon from onset, with phenomenal buy-in from the community, traders, businesses and property owners along the project axis.
A good number of businessmen and women on the highway’s right-of-way have on their own started removing their goods and valuables from the affected structures.
Now that government is in the execution phase of the project, some filling station owners have raised concerns over the removal of their structures. Anambra State Government has offered to dialogue with them through the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Petroleum Dealers Association of Nigeria (PEDAN) with a view to resolving whatever misgivings they may have, not minding that the deadline for removal of structures and commencement of the project was 8th of June 2023.
It is important to stress that it is the collective duty of all those that have been enlightened on the project to educate and sensitize those who have not been on the immediate and long-term benefits.
The recalcitrant ones, from findings, are only being stirred up by some insidious do-gooders on the local scene and ill-assorted Diaspora commentators touting human rights without knowing what is on ground.
The people who are legally living abroad pay their taxes dutifully in their countries of sojourn, and they can never deny that the goodies that they enjoy came through making the needed sacrifice. Anambra is determinedly walking the path of progress, and the necessary sacrifice ought to be made here by the citizens. People should learn to make sacrifice to allow development to come in. Good things come at cost. As they say, you can’t make omelette without breaking eggs. James Allen in his “As a Man Thinketh” states: “There can be no progress nor achievement without sacrifice.”
The economic benefits accruable from the Ekwulobia Flyover and Bus Terminus projects cannot be gainsaid. Aside from saving precious man-hours from the traffic congestion, the people stand to benefit from the appreciation of property value, greater inflow of goods and services, and of course, the buyers who will stream into the area.
The sacrifice needs to be done once and for all so that the Ekwulobia Flyover and Bus Terminus will bring modern civilization to bear on the homeland in line with Governor Soludo’s promise of a liveable and prosperous Anambra State.
Sir Paul Nwosu is the Commissioner for Information, Anambra State.
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