By Kote Obe, Port Harcourt
The Chairman of Eleme Local Government, Chief Obarilomate Ollor, has given the Federal Government of Nigeria up till the end of February this year to commence the reconstruction of the 15-kilometer Eleme axis of the East-West Road or he would close down the all-important road to traffic.
The Eleme axis of the East-West Road feeds the second largest Port complex in Nigeria at Onne and many heavy industries including the two Port Harcourt refineries, the Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Fertiliser complex, Intel’s Services, the Nigerian Naval College and Notore Fertiliser industry. It also serves transporters going to Akwa Ibom and Cross River States and even other local government areas of Rivers State.
Ollor who met with strategic stakeholders of the transportation sector in his office at Ogale on Friday, said he would lead a mass protest of the people, residents and businesses in Eleme to shut down the road akin to a similar one carried out for seven days in July/August last year, which paralysed port, industrial and transportation along the road.
The chairman expressed disappointment with the Federal Government over its lackadaisical attitude to the reconstruction of the road, which was promised by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, during the last protest.
He said, “I have always maintained that the Federal Government is irresponsible and not sensitive to the plight of our people. Judging by recent happenings with regards to the negligence of the government to the sufferings of road users in this part of the world, my stance is vindicated.
“Again, like I said before the Youths vacated the road in August, the protest was only suspended and not ended, therefore let it be noted today that we are giving the Federal Government from January 12, 2022, to February 28, 2022 to commence full construction work on the road as captured in the national budget or they will suffer a complete shutdown of the road.
“We cannot watch our people suffer continuously as a result of the insincerity and irresponsibility of the Federal Government and its agencies. It is very clear that as we get close to the electioneering period, the Federal Government would shift attention from infrastructural development and focus on campaigns, therefore they have to fix the road as they promised before the election or nobody will have access to that road.”
Speaking on the directive by Governor Nyesom Wike that all trucks and articulated vehicles parked along major roads and streets for more than 48hours or be impounded, Chief Ollor said plans had been concluded to begin implementing the directive.
He said he has put in place a task force to enforce the governor’s directive.
He said the situation in Eleme was the worst as heavy-duty vehicle operators abuse their privileges of using the roads thus making life difficult for other road users.
“The road is currently in its most deplorable state and the inability to use the road with wisdom will keep us trapped for hours in our attempt to navigate the City of Port Harcourt and other areas of the State.
On security, Chief Ollor noted that Eleme is no longer a safe haven for criminals and efforts are in top gear to ensure that the successes so far achieved on this front are sustained.
He insisted that everyone has the right to live freely and in peace but whoever chooses to make life difficult for others will have themselves to blame when government clamps down on them maintaining that it is the resolve of his administration to make Eleme habitable for everyone.
“I have continued to maintain that my administration is poised to make Eleme peaceful and habitable for every willing person to live in and do business safely and that must be achieved against all odds by the special grace of God. It is important to note that this is the first time for over ten years that Eleme celebrated Christmas without experiencing any crisis or security hitches with the relative peace dating back to October 2021”.