SOS: Eha-Amufu Roads Need Urgent Rehabilitation

By KayCee July 9, 2014 16:27

A couple of decades ago, one of the touchstones of Eastern pride bordering the northern part of the country was Eha-Amufu.

Revellers and long-fatigued train passengers from distant Iddo Terminus Lagos and Kano heading to Enugu, Umuahia and Port Harcourt, often heaved a big sigh of relief when they berth at this first Ibo speaking area.

All trains the most popular then Express Train and later Diesel Train also the local goods train popularly dubbed ‘Subaba Train, amongst others, must make a major stop over and be recharged with tonnes of water. The train station popularised this homogenous and large community, which equally boasted of being haven to tens of hundreds of non indigenes living peacefully and doing commerce at Eha-Amufu.

The good old days of the 60s and 70s also made the town strategic in many respects. During the unfortunate pogrom in the north, when Easterners especially Igbos were slaughtered, it was at Eha-Amufu that the Red Cross and authorities of Eastern Region met with returning fleeing easterners and received some decapitated bodies.

Scary stories to be left for another day but one cannot obliterate history. When eventually the war and guns boomed, with several months into warning 1967, the Biafran soldiers pulled out from the sectors of Obollo-Afor and Obollo-Eke, it was to Eha-Amufu, this all important town that served as the rendezvous as all officers and soldiers retreated to the town. It became a buffer zone. When Eha-Amufu fell to the Federal troops, it was only time for Enugu the capital to be threatened but the Biafran Engineers blew up the corresponding bridges to stop advancement.

Ironically, at the end of that gory war in 1970, Nigerian troops were stationed in the town for years before relocating to Obollo-Afor.

It is also the gateway for drivers plying the north through Obollo-Afor heading to the foremost Nigerian Cement Factory at Nkalagu just a stone throw. Then the roads were well tailored and maintained. Heavy duty trucks made daily trips to Nkalagu passing through the town to pick trailer loads of cement. Of late, indeed for over 30 years now, the town has been forsaken, there are no longer any passable roads, gullies and shallow graves are erecting along that busy roads as accidents occur regularly and vehicles fall into pits and craters that have since taken over what used to be a most easier and connecting road to Nkalagu , Enugu and beyond.

There average villager believes successive Federal Governments have deliberately left the teeming population of the people of Isu, Agu-Amedeo, Amede, Ihenyi, Umuhu, Eboh and Mgbiji all in Eha-Amufu including users of the road to suffer untold hardship.

A town that hosts a Federal College of Education with a spiralling student population and lecturers, is now the butt of mockery, forsaken and abandoned. The students and lecturers of this vital institution including commuters and vehicle transporters are the worst hit. They now swim through the ponds and instead of going through Nkalagu road to Enugu which also in very bad shape with major link bridges broken, now do a detour through Ikem to Ugwogo then Enugu, thanks to the road constructed by the Enugu State Government.

The Eha-Amufu ageless Eke Market which often attracted traders from all over the eastern states and beyond, now hardly gets any patronage. The cash crops, tubers of yams, cassava, palm oil and the abundance of grass cutter animals which made the town the cynosure of all eyes, all are stockpiled without any external market for them. Of course once the place is inaccessible, it is only saying the obvious that no one would risk getting stuck in the mud. So the agrarian people suffer, no produce can be evacuated from the farmlands, and those that manage to get their produce, cannot find market for them.

Several stories have been bandied around about contract awards, for decades but the roads deteriorate daily as no single work is at the site.

So what has really gone wrong? The people are no longer interested in being told the Eha-Amufu road project is either captured in the budget or not. Their patience is running out. It could not be blamed on the stars of the rural peasants who inhabit the town. One will wonder if any official of the Federal Ministry of Works had ever gone through that road and why has the Minister of Works not taken proactive action at least to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.

For this strategic town which once produced an erudite scholar Professor Brown Enyi, who had to be lured to return from Papau Guinea to strengthen the academic staff of the University of Nigeria Nsukka and has also produced notable academics- Professor

Hilary Edeoga, the present Vice Chancellor Federal University of Agriculture Umudike, and Professor Benjamin Mba Provost of Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu to name but a few amongst other sons and daughters of the town who are widely celebrated in different gamut of human endeavours, the least expected of appreciating their contributions to nation building, would be to reconstruct this crucial link road immediately.

Since time is of essence considering that the people have been virtually cut off and lives made misery and brought to a standstill, perhaps the most agonising is the inability of the natives to connect and reach their brethren leaving across the Umuhu villages and those living on the farmlands close to Nkalagu in Ebonyi State, because of the Orchin Bridge which had since collapsed over five years ago, there will be the urgent need to take drastic action by government.

Infant mortalities and expectant mothers are the worst hit during emergencies, they cannot be evacuated. Why this gargantuan sorrow for a people who pay their taxes regularly and are law abiding. Is it a crime to be rural based?

In order to get cracking immediately, it is germane to consider the following urgently.

Take One: The Presidency should approach the solution through a major Special Task Force.

Construction equipment and workers should be drafted immediately under a Special Presidency Aggressive Execution and Arrangement to commence work even if it is palliative.

Take two The two Governors of Enugu and Ebonyi State, need to get Abuja and the Ministry of Works to check this nuisance.

Take Three whoever has been awarded the contract, must be compelled to begin work without delay. If the contractor is incompetent, in its place, let another take.

Take Four All Public Officers elected and appointed of Isi-Uzo origin, both state and national levels should get cracking and swing into action. Unfortunately for the nation, nothing really works, until concerted efforts and pressure are brought to bear on those whose duties should have ordinarily done their bit without coercion.

Take Five This is the most craziest of all. Aged mothers and women of the 75, 80 and 90 bracket are prepared to bare topless and go on that road and refuse to leave until the Federal Ministry of Works and its allied agencies do something drastically and immediately. It will be an abomination for such elderly peeved mothers to show the entire world and go viral on the social network their flattened and flabby breasts after all they have nothing to lose and hide.

After all the late Ghanaian sage Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah was fond of reciting ‘That one had nothing to loose, than his or her chains. These mothers would have nothing to shy away from but their chains of a cancerous Eha-Amufu road.

We pray it does not get to that, or even make the women go full blast nudity, that would be a curse on the land, whose consequences cannot be quantified. There is indeed a palpable anger of the people, frustration and vexation . One can feel it in the air and smell the combustion as thick and clouded like cutting through an ice with a knife.

Take Six this is a critical period leading to an election year of February 2015 . It will not be out of place to urge those whose job it is to get the road repaired at least to put smiles on the faces of these beleaguered people whose strength is in their population, which is staggering and indeed the highest in Isi Uzo Local Government of Enugu State.

Lets hope reason will prevail and the FederalGovernment will rise now to the occasion and repair once and for all this very important Federal road and build the corresponding bridges.

Lets restore the beauty of a once popular town Eha-Amufu whose epic and resounding place in Nigeria history, cannot be wished away.



By KayCee July 9, 2014 16:27