Anguish as Imo community ferries corpses on motorcycles over bad roads

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BY BRIGHT JACOB

Uba Group

The people of Dioka Nzerem in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, have called the attention of the Governor of the State, Hope Uzodimma and the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Emeka Nduka, to the deplorable state of their roads after an ambulance conveying the casket of a deceased member of the community could not drive through one of the roads there and had to be tied and ferried on a commercial motorcycle, popularly known as “okada”, to its destination.

The ambulance carrying the deceased, Rhoda Nwosu, was coming from the mortuary in Ngboroko Umukabai, and should have headed to the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Dioka Nzerem, where her funeral service would take place before moving to her residence in Umuobodo where her body would be committed to mother earth, when the poor state of the road forced it to stop.

The youths in the community who engaged the services of a commercial motorcyclist (okada) then tied the late Nwosu’s casket to the bike before the journey to the Catholic parish could continue.

On September 19, 2022, the Imo State House of Assembly produced a new Speaker, Emeka Nduka of the All Progressives Congress, representing Ehime Mbano state constituency, following a resignation letter sent to the House by the former speaker, Kennedy Ibeh, representing Obowo state constituency
The members of the community have, therefore, urged the Speaker, who they consider one of their own, to come to their aid as the bad roads in their community had caused them so much pain, distress and suffering.

Apart from the roads in the community, the access roads linking Dioka Nzerem, which happens to be federal roads, are also in bad shape.

The NDDC awarded the contract for their rehabilitation to LCD International Limited, with contract no: NDDC/HPU/EDP/BPP/2/FR/004 on April 13, 2011. After the contractors commenced work, they absconded after a while from the construction site, leaving their machines behind.

Concerning the bad roads in their immediate community, the Chairlady of the Christian Mothers Association, Mary Anyanwu, who was present at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, where the funeral service for the late Nwosu took place, said that the community was going through hell because of the roads, and it was time their cry “came to the ears of the authorities concerned.”

She said, “We are gathered here today for the funeral service of one of our members whose corpse was brought from the mortuary at Ngboroko Umukabia. When they got to Obolo Road, the road was inaccessible and they had to tie the casket to a bike before they could make it to our parish here.

“They will also use the same bike to move the casket to her residence where she will be laid to rest. This is the appalling situation we have been experiencing for a long while now because of the bad roads. It is so unfortunate that we are still experiencing it today.

“The situation makes it seem like our involvement in government is in vain. It’s like we are gaining nothing from the government.

“We are, therefore, using this opportunity to call on the government once again to come to our rescue. Let them come and wipe our tears away in Dioka Nzerem.
“We also want our cries to get to the ears of the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Emeka Nduka. He is a member of this community and he is aware of the situation of the roads. And now that he got elected into that position, let him assist us,” she added.

Another member of the community, Godwin Osueke, said that the state of the road was affecting everyone in the community. Osueke lamented that the government, by the action, had shown that it had “forgotten” that the members of the community existed. He urged them to expedite action on the roads.

A few days earlier, before Nwosu’s death, another member of the community, Martha Arionu, had died in her residence. Because of the poor state of the roads, the youths in the community placed her corpse on a stretcher made with sticks and lifted the same on their shoulders before they headed towards the direction of the mortuary. Like the late Nwosu, the ambulance service was useless and could do nothing for Arionu’s corpse.

The youths who carried the corpse were visibly upset with the state of the roads. They bemoaned it and wondered why they should face so much hardship when they supposedly have some prominent members of the community in government. They vowed to “vote out” those in government that abandoned them even as they chanted, “No government. We don’t have a government,” as they marched to the mortuary.

A youth leader in the community, Anthony Okolorie, told The Point that Dioka Nzerem was an important “food basket” in the area that had been neglected.

According to him, many politicians and government officials have made promises to fix the roads during their political campaigns, but nothing was done about the roads.

On the access roads leading to the community, he said the contractors who fled still have their equipment in the adjoining bushes.

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Okolorie also stated that the people were like a community that was “locked up”, and that during the raining season, anyone who died would be “carried on the heads of the youths to the mortuary.”

He said, “Dioka Nzerem is the “food basket of Ehime Mbano LGA and Okigwe zone in general. Dioka Nzerem is the heart and largest community in Nzerem/ Ikpem Ward.

“There are four autonomous communities in Nzerem/Ikpem Ward, namely, Umuoma Nzerem, Dioka Nzerem, Ikpem Nzerem and Obinetiti Dioka Nzerem. Many governments have come and gone without remembering us on infrastructure. The electricity we have in Dioka Nzerem came through our effort.

“Since the history of Adam and Eve, we have been suffering because of these bad roads in our community. Many times, politicians have promised to fix the roads during their campaigns, but nothing would be done.

“Even the access roads leading to our community…federal roads…are bad. During the tenure of Austin Nwachukwu, who represented us in the Federal House of Representatives; the government awarded a contract for those roads in 2011. But after they started work, the contractors ran away without any reason whatsoever, and left their equipment behind in the bushes.

Continuing, Okolorie lamented that the community hadn’t enjoyed any dividend of democracy but was only experiencing what he termed “promise and failure.”

Also, apart from the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, he called on Senator Frank Ibezim in the National Assembly and the Secretary to the State Government, Cosmos Iwu, who is the younger brother to the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Maurice Iwu, to come to their aid.

“We have been voting and paying taxes to the government and we are still experiencing ‘promise and fail’ by the Government. The current House of Assembly member, Emeka Nduka hails from Nzerem/Ikpem and just last month was made the Honourable Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly.

“The Speaker is our brother. He is from Nzerem. We are also urging him to attract the state government to come to our aid.

“The road we carried the corpse on a bike is his own road, too. Even the recordings of what happened when the corpse was carried by an okada man were sent to his WhatsApp, for him to see things himself. We are calling on him and our Senator, Frank Ibezim, who is also from our LGA, to come to our aid.

“The Secretary to the State Government, Cosmas Iwu is also from our neighboring community, Umukabia Ward. What have we done to deserve this suffering and total rejection by the Government? It is terrible. We have suffered enough,” Okolorie further lamented.