By: Ifeanyi Okonkwo
The Anambra State Government has commended all the persons who contributed to the peaceful resolution of the impasse on the Ihiala stretch of the Onitsha-Owerri Road following the blocking of the road by drivers who belong to the Freight Forwarders Transport Association protesting against an accident in the area involving one of their number.
The protest, which started when the accident occurred last Friday ended on Monday when representatives of various groups met with the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Echeng E. Echeng, in his office, who formally directed that the police block mounted at Azia Junction in Ihiala often blamed for accidents in the place, be removed.
According to a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, Governor Willie Obiano has expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment for leading the initiative which resolved the road impasse.
“They worked the round the clock from Friday”, according to Governor Obiano, “and by the evening of Saturday they had succeeded in convincing the police commissioner to shift the road block, but Echeng, in his wisdom, decided to remove the roadblock completely”.
Chief Obiano then spoke to the leadership of the union of drivers through a member of its Board of Trustees, Victor Okeghe, to quickly clear their trucks from the road and meet the police commissioner and top government officials as well as stakeholders from Ihiala LGA within three days to iron out whatever differences that could remain
“It is regrettable that Mr Okeghe rejected the governor’s plea, saying the trucks would not leave the road until the state government agreed to pay compensation to victims of the accident in which no state agency or official had a hand”, said Adinuba.
Governor Obiano commended Commissioner Adinuba for mobilizing Ihiala LGA stakeholders to attend the meeting at almost no notice.
Adinuba informed the Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Dr Pascal Agbodike, the person representing Ihiala One in the state Assembly, the Honorable Chidi Udemadu and the traditional ruler of Isseke, Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife, of the meeting less than two hours to the event owing to a sudden shift in date.
“Their swift acceptance and wise contributions went a long way to help resolve the matter”, observed the commissioner who could not participate in the meeting because he was out of Anambra State on an official assignment, like his counterpart in the Ministry of Transport, Afam Mbanefo.
The State Government also commended the chairman of the Task Force of the Freight Forwarders Transport Association, Mr Chukwuka Okakpu, for “his wise intervention.
“He is mature and knowledgeable”.
The government lauded Police Commissioner Echeng for his flexibility.
“It is commendable that he accepted to remove the roadblock regardless of whether it actually contributed to some accidents in recent times on the road which is on a slope”, stated the Information Commissioner.
The government has directed the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to investigate the cause(s) of accidents at the Azia Junction.
Meanwhile, the Government has warned road users in the state, especially tanker and truck drivers, against driving vehicles which are not roadworthy.
“The rate at which heavy duty vehicles whose brake systems fail and cause havoc is alarming”, stated Adinuba.
“This new phenomenon must be checked immediately.
“Drivers and transport owners cannot continue with the explanation that they cannot fix their brake systems or provide rear lights for their vehicles on account of economic challenges in the cuntry is no longer tolerable.
“The lives of our people are most precious.
“Any person found guilty of driving a vehicle which is not roadworthy will be prosecuted and if such a person commits manslaughter or murder on the road, the government will make such a person feel the full weight of the law”.