Niger Delta NewsProtest

Motorists Groan As Protesters Block Warri – Benin Highway Over Deplorable State Of Road 

Betty Idemudia, Reporting

It was a tale of woes in the early hours of Monday, August 1, as protesters stormed the ever-busy Benin-Warri highway, disrupting, with fury, socio-economic activities over the perennial deplorable condition of the road.

Stonix News reports that late Sunday night, a viral message had emerged, advising users of the road to steer clear on Monday as residents and motorists had concluded to occupy the road in protest on Monday.

Protesters

True to their threat, as early as Monday morning, the entrance and exit points of the Benin-Sapele road were blocked by the protesters, resulting in heavy traffic gridlock.

Long queue of articulated trucks and cars lined the length and breadth of the dilapidating critical road that serves Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and other South East and South South oil-producing states.

Stonix News reports that the Benin/Sapele-Warri highway has been in a parlous state for a long time with the Federal Government, which owns the road, doing little or nothing to reconstruct it despite its national economic significance.

One of the Monday protesters, Raymond Eshebugan, who addressed journalists, decried the total neglect of the critical jighway.

“We’re tired. Last year we came out (November precisely), we protested, the governor came out, he addressed us, he accused the Federal Government of playing politics with the road.

“The governor, after making promises, after 24 hours, he really deployed contractors to this road. We applauded the governor for that.

“But four days along the line, the controller, Federal Ministry of Works at Aduwawa, the man came with military men and police and stopped the contractors working on the road, saying the road was a Federal Government road, that the state governor had no right to construct the road or whatsoever.

“That was November last year, behold this is August 1st, 2022 and nothing has been done.

“The road is no longer motorable. If our kids are going to school in the morning, they spend two hours, three hours on the road, if they are coming back, they spend three hours as the case may be.

“Whenever it rains, just know that day is useless for all of us residing here or plying the road.

“This road leads to other four Niger Delta roads. It has a lot of economic value to both the state and the Federal Government.

“If they are claiming that they are broke, they can give tax waiver to the oil companies.

“We have about six to seven oil companies here; we have Seplat Energy, Summit, Panocean, even NPDC.

“The best gas in the world is from this place, yet they are doing this to us despite the huge revenue the Federal Government gets from here.

“We have resolved to be here, until they do something. We don’t want rehabilitation, we want a standard road, if they want to bring RCC, let them bring.

“We want a standard road, this road is due for expansion.”

Another protester, who expressed his frustrations, said,

“All we’re asking is for the road to be expanded. We have written several letters, yet nothing. Over 300 heavily loaded trucks ply this road on a daily basis.

“Its an eyesore; this is a state that the Federal Government is getting a lot from. What are we not saying? Federal Government has actually neglected the road.

“The vehicular movement on this road is high. We have vehicle moving in and out of the Niger Delta states up to the East-West road and even to the Bakassi Pennisula.

“We’re not asking for just roads, we’re asking for durable roads with quality asphalt and bitumen of high quality, roads that can last up to 50 years or so,” he lamented.

Stonixnews.com recalled that in 2021, it took the intervention of the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to pacify protesters, mostly youths, who had occupied the road to register their displeasure over the harrowing experience commuters go through on a daily basis.

The youths had set up canopies and giant tripod stands, cooking, eating and dancing to music from a standby Disk Jockey (DJ).

The protesters eventually left the highway following assurances from Godwin Obaseki that the road would get the needed urgent attention.

Matching his words with action, the governor, work immediately commenced the following day with contractors moving in heavy duty equipment to the site and some palliative repairs carried out.

But few months after, the road has attained a far worse condition amid the ongoing rainy season.

As of the time of filing the report, the protest was still ongoing and no official from the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) or any other government functionary had addressed the protesters.

However, scores of law enforcement agents are keeping law and order at the protest ground to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the civil protest.

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