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Panic as Abonchia-Eleme bridge caves in

Collapsed section of the bridge
Collapsed section of the bridge

Hundreds of motorists, who ply Abonchia/Eleme road have raised concern over the dilapidate state of the Abonchia-Eleme bridge.  The bridge, which connects Oyigbo  in Rivers state and Aba in Abia state to the Eleme , Tai, Gokana, Khana  and Port Harcourt caved in two months ago and has not been fixed as of the time of filling this report.

The bridge was constructed some years ago by the Rivers state government to give access to hundreds of commuters that ply the road every day.

It crisscrossed the Abonchia Eleme river and has served as a gateway to hundreds of motorists as well as numerous staff of multi billion naira Port Harcourt Refinery Company, Eleme Petrochemical , Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA other companies located along the stretch of Onne.

The poor state of the bridge  has worsened in recent time  as a result of heavy duty trucks that passed through it to evacuate goods from Onne Port. The dilapidated state of Aba/Port Harcourt road, which is under  construction, has also added much pressure to the bridge.

Residents of Abonchia, a couple of weeks ago, barricaded part of the bridge and barred big trucks from plying the route.

A resident of Abonchia, Lucas Oluka said they took the decision to save the bridge from collapsing totally.

“Some sections of the bridge have caved in and this situation has posed a very serious threat and danger to hundreds of motorists who ply the road. Heavy duty trucks that come all the way from Aba, Owerri and Onitsha to carry goods from Onne Port use the bridge.

“The trucks contributed so much in putting pressure on the bridge. We have to bar heavy trucks from passing through the bridge. We only allow light vehicle to use a section of the bridge pending the time the bridge will be fixed,’’ he said.

He called on Eleme Local Government Council to, as a matter of urgency, fix the bridge to save the lives of motorists plying the bridge.

A commercial bus driver, who passes through the bridge to Eleme from Oyigbo, said the bridge has become a death trap to road users.

“I pass through this bridge more than  10 times a day to convey passengers from Oyigbo to Eleme  and each time  I pass through the  bridge my  mind flies because of its poor  state. It is very risky and dangerous to drive on top of this bridge,’’ he said.

He also called on Eleme local government to fix the bridge before it collapses.

Another motorist, Jonathan Okere, said the state of the bridge was a big embarrassment to the authorities of Eleme local government council whose responsibility it is to reconstruct it.

He said since the bridge caved in two months ago the council authorities have not deemed it feet to rehabilitate it.

“Maybe they are waiting for the time the bridge will collapse completely before they can do something about it. Is it too difficult for Eleme local government council to fix this bridge? The council has the capacity to reconstruct the bridge.

“We also have companies in Eleme such as Port Harcourt Refining company, NPA, Petrol chemical and other big companies that are located in Eleme whose staff transit through this road . Why can’t they put resources together and fix this bridge. It is very worrisome that this bridge has remained like this months after it caved in,’’ he stated.

He called on Eleme local government council and companies operating in Eleme to reconstruct the bridge before it poses more threats to road users.

Mike Orji, a transporter, expressed concern over the poor state of the bridge.

“Recently a bus conveying passengers from Oyigbo to Eleme nearly fall inside the bridge.  The driver of the bus was very lucky that he was able to maneuver through and was able to wriggle out of the bad portion of the bridge,’’  he said.

Chairman of Eleme local government council,  Phillip Okparaji said that the state government, after inspecting its state recently awarded the reconstruction of the bridge. Rivers state government last year awarded contract for the reconstruction of Abonchia-Eleme/Oyigbo road. The contractor reconstructed some section of the road leaving behind the collapsed section of the bridge.

 

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