Youths Shut Down Nigeria’s Industrial/Maritime Zone
Distraught youths of Eleme in Rivers State on Monday blocked the Eleme axis of the East – West road to protest the failure of the Nigerian government to fix that portion of the road that has turned into a death trap.
The youths moved very early in the morning and blocked the road at Akpajo, Refinery Junction and Trailer Park ends of the road and prevented motorists from using the road.
They deflated tyres of articulated vehicles, which they used to block the roads. Thousands of stranded commuters were forced to trek several kilometres to catch transportation at either ends of the traffic jam.
The obstruction completely shut off Nigeria’s second largest industrial zone harbouring multi-billion dollar investments in oil and gas, petrochemicals, ports, agriculture and military. Industries affected include the Indorama Eleme Chemicals and Fertilizer Company, Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, the Federal Ocean and Lighter Terminals, the Port Harcourt Refining Company, Notore Chemicals and Fertilizer Company, the Nigerian Naval College and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.
The road also links Akwa Ibom and Cross River States as well as Ogoni and Ijaw local government areas of Rivers State.
Sammy Osaromkpe said all the people want is for the government to reconstruct the road. Ezekiel Buma wondered why the reconstruction of the road from Akwa Ibom stopped at Onne, while the one from Warri stopped at Eleme Junction.
Samuel Onungwe, an engineer, said the bad road had caused tragic accidents leading to untimely death of many commuters and destruction of automobiles.
Chairman of Rivers State chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Joseph Obele said, “The gods of Eleme will punish any son or daughter of Eleme that will frustrate, betray or speak against the Fix-our-Road protest”
Emmanuel Obe-Danwi said, “No Eleme person should allow himself to be corrupted to be a fifth columnist in the protest.” Youths of the area had been agitated over the deplorable condition of the road and had made several appeals to the federal and state governments as well as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to fix the road.
But the appeals had not been heeded except for occasional assurances by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who said apart from fixing the road, three flyovers would be erected at Akpajo, Refinery Junction and Trailer Park to ease flow of traffic.
Last month, the new Chairman of Eleme Local Government, Obariollomate Ollor, threatened to block the road if within 14 days, nothing was done to reconstruct the road.
Also a group of Ogoni activists issued a similar ultimatum to the Federal Government to fix the road or face an unprecedented protest. The Federal Authorities failed to heed any of the ultimatums.
So on Monday, the people came out and blocked the road.