By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
Hope Uzodimma has played his joker. His game plan, it seems, is to make the two critical roads that link the three senatorial zones in the state grade-A roads. Work has started. Craneburg Construction have moved to site. Uzodimma had promised Julius Berger. Craneburg say they are apar with Julius Berger. Time will tell.
Imo people have seen governors come and go. Some came with small ambitions and indolence. Some came with energy but no sense of standards. Many came with false promises. So when Hope promised Julius Berger and brought Craneburg, many Imolites sucked their teeth and looked away. But work has started on the roads.
If Hope can complete well-drained and tarred Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe roads before 2023, he could be in the game for re-election despite his squabbles with workers and pensioners. Take it from me; it is sinful to owe workers and pensioners. Since he claimed he had eliminated a legion of ghost workers, let him pay genuine workers and pensioners.
Owerri-Orlu road is important because it links the biggest senatorial zone and the second biggest city in the state to the state capital. Imo has a small landmass. If that 40 km Owerri – Orlu road is completed, a woman who hails from Orlu can work in Owerri and vice versa. But that road is important for another reason, a personal reason. It links Owerri to Orodo. So I have taken a special note of what is being done.
When Craneburg started, my hopes fell. They had come in like they were patching potholes. Just from the middle of nowhere, and they weren’t scraping off all the old tar. We had seen governors pour watery tar over old decrepit tar. So it seemed like deja vu. Then I watch more closely. I noticed that Craneburg’s sub-base looked strong, perhaps the best I had seen anywhere in Imo. That piqued my interest. I asked questions, “Why aren’t you scraping off the entire tar and finding a new base and laying a brand new bed?”
The managing director said his company was giving Imo the strongest possible sub-base with modern technology at a discount. They would scrape the weak old tar and concrete as much as possible, crush and mix with cement, and relay on the road. That must be the concrete looking sub-base I saw.
The 40km Owerri- Orlu and 60km Owerri Okigwe roads reconstruction will have huge political implications. So politicians might struggle to affect the project. Hope Uzodimma must pursue them with zeal, with ruthlessness, to early completion.
Craneburg, it appears, have the equipment, expertise, and hunger for excellence. They are mindful that the roads would be their portrait in Igbo land. They said they had proved themselves in Epe, Lagos. Hopefully, in 24 months, they would brag about the Owerri- Orlu road too. But they would need the cooperation of the government and the communities to succeed.
Communities that lie along that road should provide peace. Then they must watch the builders and ensure the best job is being done. The government must prioritize funding for that road.
Speed kills. But Craneburg would need more speed. At the current speed, with the coming rains, that project could linger. So let Craneburg make as much hay as it can while the sun shines. But there is something else. I haven’t seen the design of the road. But Akwakuma roundabout is a mess. And it becomes a nightmare once the rains set in.
Something has to be done urgently at Akwakuma and other failed portions of the road before the rains come. Akwakuma needs some order, which Craneburg and Hope Uzodimma can install today. The agony people go through at Akwakuma in traffic snarls, and wild floods can be alleviated now. The people want to see sensitivity. Craneburg must show responsiveness- must always respond with interest and enthusiasm in relieving commuters and communities in its operational areas of pain and agony.
Craneburg have a chance to perish doubts and cement its claim to elite status. They will paint themselves in glory with a quality job on that road to Orodo. I have seen big construction firms in Lagos do quality roads and leave small drainages. Before the roads are commissioned, the drainages would be blocked by filth and plastic bags, and the resultant flooding would eat up the new road.
That is the predicament at Mile 2 in Lagos. That is a predicament those who constructed Festac town in 1976 avoided with deep drainages. I haven’t seen the Owerri-Orlu road design, but I hope Craneburg know that drainage would be everything. Yes, I have noticed, they have given the road a good slope. But they must give it a wide and deep drainage system.
Craneburg claim a track record in delivering high-quality developments. Craneburg’s reputation is at stake on the road to Orodo. Let the people and the government give them support and cooperation.