The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is takings steps to restore the inter-state road linking Etche Local Government Area of Rivers state and Okpala in Imo state.
Also, the commission has started an assessment of the Aleto Bridge in Eleme with a view to saving it from imminent collapse.
Speaking during the inspection of the dilapidated portions of the Igwuruta-Chokocho-Okomoko-Egwi-Okehi-Igbodo-Okpala Road, the NDDC acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, said that remedial work on the road and re-enforcement of the bridge would begin immediately.
Prof. Brambaifa, who was accompanied by NDDC directors and engineers, said that having inspected the dilapidated road and failing bridge, the commission is going to ensure that work begins without delay to avoid a total breakdown of the critical infrastructure.
He told the people of Etche: “I can assure you that in the next one month, this road will be restored to a standard that will stand the test of time. Your current pains and inconveniences will be a thing of the past. We will put all machinery in motion to achieve this goal.”
The NDDC chief executive officer directed the contractor engaged for the project to mobilise to the site, stating that “we want this important route to Port- Harcourt to be restored as quickly as possible.”
Earlier, President General of Ogbakor Etche, Sir Machy Nwodim, said that the people were grateful to the NDDC for its prompt response to their save-our-soul message, requesting urgent attention to the repair of the major highway connecting Etche to Port Harcourt and the South-East states.
He stated: “The road is today the major route taking Lagos, Abuja and Enugu commuters into Port Harcourt, Rivers state. This is also the major route for the people of Etche to their state capital and other parts of the state.”
Sir Nwodim said that the Etche people have been subjected to untold hardship following the deplorable condition of the road, expressing hope that the visit by the NDDC would be translated into quick, effective reconstruction of the failed portions, as an immediate remedy.
At the Aleto Bridge in Eleme, an indigene of the town, a one-time commissioner for sports in Rivers state, Fred Igwe, said that the people in the surrounding local governments were pleading for the immediate intervention of the NDDC to save the bridge from collapse.
He said that the bridge connects two states, nine local government areas and many industries like the Indorama Petrochemicals, Port Harcourt Refining Company and the Onne Port. These big companies attract heavy traffic of articulated vehicles.
The NDDC boss said that the commission would intervene urgently to ensure that activities in these critical industries were not paralysed. He remarked that the bridge was under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Works and as such, the NDDC would need to get clearance from the relevant authorities before it can proceed.