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The commencement of any road construction project brings with it, relief and great expectations from the residents and people of the area. This is even more glaring where residents of such an area have had to endure many years of the dilapidated state of the road which most times, makes it rather difficult to access their homes and guarantees regular calls to the mechanic by motorcycle and car owners. However, this initial frenzy and excitement is often short lived, as reality dawns on them that the road construction contract which is most times awarded to contractors with little or no technical expertise, but very strong government affiliation, take donkey years to reach completion and executed with sub-standard materials that do not stand the test of time. A typical example of such a situation in our environment is the ongoing construction of the Old Lagos/Asaba Road in Boji-Boji metropolis currently being handled by Hi-Tec Construction Company. It can be recalled that for over a decade now this particular strip of road has been under construction and had been awarded to different contractors by different administrations beginning from the tenure of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. At the advent of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration in 2015, the road was re-awarded and this time around Boji-Boji residents and indeed Ika people dared to hope that this time, succor had finally come their way, owing to the highly dilapidated state of the road back then.
As expected, work began with gusto and speed and the very bad portions of the road were rehabilitated which made for the free flow of vehicular traffic and eased the long suffering of the people. However, on the occasion of a heavy down pour, large portions of the road are always washed off and this exposes the shabby work done by the contractor, Hi-Tec who every now and then continue to patch and re-patch thereby exposing their incompetence.
Furthermore, it is taking them far too long to complete this very strategic road, whereas, the Owa-Ekei/Owa-Alero road construction being handled by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) which was awarded not too long ago and long after the commencement of the Old Lagos/Asaba road is being executed with speed and with high quality materials and has drawn commendations from many residents.
The questions that arise from the foregoing situation are; why wasn’t a strategic road such as the Old Lagos/Asaba road awarded to a more competent and renowned contractor like CCECC? Why is the government, especially the monitoring team from the Ministry of Works not mounting due pressure on the contractor handling Old Lagos/Asaba road to meet up with the specifications and finish the road on time? If the project is posing too difficult for the contractor, why can’t the government re-award it to a more competent firm with higher technical know-how and capacity?
At these economic trying times where funds are scarce, it is no longer becoming for a serious government to award contracts based on cronyism and ethnocentric considerations. Only tested and trusted construction firms with the ability to efficiently undertake construction projects and deliver in record time should be contracted to take up such road projects. Besides, the government should take drastic measure against every monitoring team from the Ministry of Works that fails to evaluate good jobs.
While we are calling for the good and prompt completion of the Old Lagos/Asaba road, it is pertinent to also appeal to Boji-Boji residents to desist from the ignoble practice of disposing refuse in drainage as this act is tantamount to economic sabotage as the refuse usually block the drainage and hampers the flow of water which finds its way to the roads and cause wanton destruction on it. The local government authorities should be alive to their responsibilities in providing proper waste collection and disposal mechanism which will reduce the practice of dumping refuse into drainage.
Also, sanctions should be imposed on those caught perpetrating this act of sabotage with their faces published in print and electronic media to act as deterrence to others. And, landlords, neighborhoods and communities should also be involved in checking this ugly trend, as we all have a responsibility of safe guarding our collective heritage.

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