On The Forgotten Road To East-West Road….

By Blessing Wikina

The Novelist, Fredrick Forsyth in his bestselling thriller, “The Devils Alternative” said: “whichever option I choose, men are going to die”. And further suggested that “events shape men, but they do not remove the alternative to choose”.

This matter of choice, with its options, appears to be an albatross on the East-West Road in Rivers State, over the years.

Before the idea of construction of the East-West Road was debated and approved then by the Ruling Supreme Military Council in Nigeria, there existed a road called the PH – Eleme – Bori Road, which some people now prefer to stereotype by adding the adjective “Old to it, making it now “Old PH – Eleme – Bori Road”, confining it to a used and abused old lady status, forgetting the biblical verse of; “before Abraham, I was” Injunction.

Suddenly, the old road, the old lady, the abandoned and rejected stone, had gotten a new life, a regeneration, a rebirth, and a functional profile, of relevance, as the road is now wearing a “Tear Rubber Look” and ready to be commissioned to mark one year in office of Governor Sim Fubara on 14th Day of May, 2024.

But the Road, now dubbed: “Old PH – Eleme – Bori Road, how not always been old. It was our own known version of an express road back then.

Historical notes on Rivers State reveal that the Road many years ago, started from Bori and terminated at Elelenwo Train Station. The Colonial Administration used it like a stone to kill two birds.

The first, was to serve the local farmers coming to Port Harcourt with agricultural produce from the Ogoni axis, by conveying those agric products from Elelenwo Train Station to Aba, for the Markets, to serve the new trading population that was emerging via palm oil business.

The second reason was to serve the Oil Mill facility with palm oil fruits from the Igbo hinter land, which needed to be refined and milled, before transporting via the harbour in PH to overseas, Europe or Ala-bekee, alias Obodo Ndeocha as our forbearers called it.

Elelenwo then was a major connecting artery in the south – eastern trade route, and served as a hub, for both farmers, buyers, and local transporters, mostly bicycle riding entrepreneurs from Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Khana Villages.

It was therefore cheering news, when Dr. Tammy Dangogo, the Secretary to Rivers State Government, addressing the Press as Chairman of The Governor Fubara’s One year in Office Anniversary Celebration Committee, announced that 11 kilometer segment of the “Old Eleme, Bori Road, which had been given a total rehabilitation, would be Commissioned, alongside other roads.

The reconstructed segment stretches from Akpajo to Aleto – Nchia – Ogale – Ebubu – Eteo. It would serve as an alternative to the East – West road where Tankers, Heavy duty vehicles and Container conveying Trucks dominate other road users, sometimes leading to accidents.

Who knows, maybe, if that old road had been resurfaced by previous past administrations, and had been in use before this period, the ugly incident of fire disaster last few days, may not had happened.

We may yet Thank Governor Simialaye Fubara, for reconstructing this road, and averting further disaster on the East West Road.

Emerging out of that pre-Anniversary Press conference is the News that the second stretch of the Trans Kalabari Highway, that will eventually link – up Bakana, Tombia, Etc with the rest of the Mainland, Rivers State is to be flagged off, plus the  Elele– Omoku Dual carriage way.

The Andoni axis of the Ogoni – Opobo – Andoni Unity Road, according to Dangogo would be Commissioned to give the road, it’s complete cycle, as the initiators of the project had envisioned building a major road to pierce through Rivers, and hitting the Atlantic coast line.

While we thank Governor Fubara for giving a fresh new refined look and status to the Old Port Harcourt – Eleme – Bori Road, it is our wish that the reconstruction should be extended to link up Nonwa– Kira – Sakpenwa, where it will connect the already completed segment of Sakpenwa – Bori – Kono axis.

As the entire users of the East West road look forward to the D-Day, 14th May, when Governor Fubara would step out to cut the tape on that road, it is time to appeal to the Eleme Local  Chairman, to be proactive, and do something about the Nchia Market where traders openly display their goods, and sell right in the center of the road… distorting traffic flow. Apart from affecting the flow of traffic on that road, the traders activities is a bold statement on the presence or absence of a local authority.

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