From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Motorists plying the Benin-Sapele-Warri road were stranded for several hours yesterday as protesters blocked the road and its adjoining routes at the flyover axis, following the inability of the federal government to fix its failed portions.
The protesters on the platform of Freedom Ambassadors Organization in conjunction with Sarbag/Sapele Road residents who had sent out notice on Sunday to warn travellers of the planned protest, yesterday mounted canopies and chairs on the major road while others displayed their wares for sale, an indication that they are not prepared to leave soon.
Addressing reporters, Mr. Daniel Omorogbe, Chairman, Sarbag/Sapele road axis, said the blocking of the major road and its adjoining routes became necessary following series of deaths and unquantifiable man hours commuters expend on the road while trying to get to their respective destinations.
He said when the road got bad previously, they went on a peaceful protest which drew the attention of the Edo State government to commence work on it but added that to their amazement, the federal government halted the ongoing work, claiming that it is its own sole responsibility to fix it and not the state government.
“Last year, we protested and the state governor came and made his promise that within 24 hours, he is going to mobilize contractors to come and work and really, he did.
“He came with Hartland and Levant contractors and after first day of their working, the federal government sent their troops.
“I was there and nobody told me about it. They asked the contractors to stop the work, the road belong to the federal government and not to the state.
“And ever since, they have not been working. So, we did another letter to the federal ministry of works, Abuja to Fashola, they replied us.
“They said the road has been awarded to Levant Construction company. I went to Levant, the contractor. They said they didn’t award the road to them.
“I did another letter again to Fashola, saying we want to have Sarbag meeting with him, they didn’t allow us to see him”, he said.
Omorogbe added that the residents of the environs have taken it upon themselves to avert unwarranted deaths on Benin-Sapele road and also put an end to the nightmares their children face when either going to school or returning from school.
“For us, our children cannot access their places on time. If our children are going to school is a problem. Like the tanker that fell last two weeks there, supposed it happened in the afternoon it would have been a disaster but the luck we had is that it happened at night.
“So we feel the pains of our brothers who lost their lives. The person that died there the other time, his marriage should have been done last Friday, he is our brother.
“Last year, similar thing happened, somebody died under the bridge. So, the property that have been destroyed is unquantifiable.
“We cannot just fold up our hands, we are all tax payers, let him come and fix the road, we are not begging him to give us money, let him come and work for us”, he said.
The leader of the group threatened to remain on the road pending when the federal government mobilizes its contractors to fix it.
“We are not leaving here any moment. If they come with their machine now, we will leave the road. If they come next month with their machine, we will leave the road, if it extend to Friday, the Muslims will say their prayers here and if extend to Sunday, we will do our service here”, he threatened.