RAIN OF RUIN: WE'RE NOW IN HELL, ABA RESIDENTS CRY OUT
• A typical road in Amamong
For the residents of Amamong, a suburb of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, the first rain of the year, which was supposed to be a blessing to them, had instead made life difficult.
Mr Polycarp Eke, who lives in Amamong told Daily Sun that going to Amamong area of Aba after the first rain of the year is akin to making a tortuous and uninspiring journey to the dungeon of death.
'Amamong, the area that made Aba the once flourishing commercial city in the East of the Niger comparable to ancient commercial cities such as Timbuctum, Kanem Bornu, Ga and Kano is today in a very bad state owing to the terrible state of roads.
'It is like a diamond in the rough. It is easier going to the land of the spirits to fetch fire than accessing Amamong from which ever point. Going by the high population density and the small-scale industries that dot its landscape, the area could be described as the golden city in the jungle.
'The debilitating condition of roads in the area just like most other parts of the city is definitely better imagined than explained. Although the major road into that jungle within a city is Ohanku road, but there is no point one would access the area it would not be the same tales of woes,' Eke said.
Another resident of the area, Chief John Eme said: 'The truth of the matter is that the population of the area is very dense. The initial plan of Ohanku road which is the major entrance to Amamong was for it to be a dual carriageway from Ngwa road to Obehie, linking Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
'The road was rehabilitated during the first tenure of the administration of Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, but today, before you will be able to come out from Owerre-Aba to Ngwa road junction, a distance of about three kilometers, you have to arm yourself with two things, three sachet of 'pure water' and a pair of bathroom slippers.'
This, according to him, was so because one has to disembark three times and wade through the belly of frightening mud water that no vehicle would attempt to pass through.
'At each point of hand over, commuters would remove their shoes; fold their trousers to the point space would permit and then wade through the mud water. After that uninspiring exercise, he or she uses a sachet of the pure water to wash his or her feet. This exercise is repeated three times as commuters disembark at each spot of the bad portions of the road with the worst spots being Umunkama/Ama Bread, Onyembi and Nwachukwu junctions. Commuting in this area is as comic as it is tragic,' he said.
According to Eme, 'when the road was newly reconstructed, bus drivers charged N20 from Owerre-Aba to Ngwa road, but now particularly with the first rain this year, fares have gone up to N150. If a driver wants to ply the route direct, he will spend two hours before getting to his destination because he had to first of all pass through adjourning villages before getting to the city center'.
Besides the poor road network in Amamong, electricity supply to the area has become another luxury due to the poor condition of the roads that made PHCN staff not to go there again to maintain their facilities.
Since nature, they say, does not abhor vacuum, youths of the area have since turned into unofficial PHCN officials, collecting electricity bills from residents and punishing defaulters.
However, whether they remit the money they collected to the appropriate quarters is another issue.
The youths have also gone a step further by acquiring an office where they 'treat' matters pertaining to electricity in the area.
Amamong is also facing water problem as the Aba regional water project which contract was awarded almost 40 years ago had since been abandoned.
In an SOS message the people of the area said: 'If urgent steps are not taken, over millions of people living in Ohanku (Amamong) axis are about to be displaced because of flood occasioned by bad roads. Although nobody has visited hell and came back alive to tell us how it looks like, but from the description we get from the Bible, we think the area is a replica of hell.'