Governor Chibuike Amaechi topically said that his administration has achieved in building of roads in Rivers State. Customarily, this means that the Rivers State government said that it has put its head in curbing the man-hours’ stalemating traffic state-of-affairs in Port Harcourt, the capital of the state.
Traffic circumstances in the state had several times compelled the governor to be an emergency traffic controller. One of such incidents was along Chief G.U. Ake-Eliozu road. He even arrested traffic offenders. It could be recalled that the discharged Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mr. Chibuzor Ugwoha, when he was in office was stopped on the road and was asked to reverse his car when he was driving against the traffic and ran into the convoy of the governor. Ugwoha was not only in that idea of riding against the tide, his rebellious against the traffic order is how most of the powerful in the society who were supposed to be role models to those who had looked up to them also do.
Traffic situations in the City of Port Harcourt can never abate if the residents do not obey traffic orders. Though, who wears the cap wears the blame. But there is no how Amaechi can oversee what is happening in his kingdom at a go. It is the duty of the residents to assist in being orderly to the orchestrated rules of the government. It is becoming a culture among people in the state to disobey traffic rules and several other rules. One group that this ugly attitude is fad with is the company executives. They foil traffic rules with reckless abandon, not blinking to know the effect of their behavior to other road users. They forgot that disobedience of traffic rules (by anybody in the state no matter how highly place) is seen as a crime. There is no provision in the laws of the state that permits anybody or group, whether moving in singular or convoys or the escorts of policemen and soldiers, to frustrate traffic rules.
It has been observed that policemen and soldiers in their official vehicles hardly obey any form of decorum on the roads in the state; hence they complement to worsen the traffic situation. How could a citizen of Nigeria who was supposed to obey the law now becomes the law breaker? Security agents are the arbiters that recklessly and disobediently go against the laws traffic wardens are fighting to maintain than any group or persons.
Officials of The Rivers State Road Management Agency, TIMARIV, and volunteers who direct traffic in Port Harcourt and its environs should be commended. TIMARIV may be losing focus why it was created as residents have complained unremittingly of one intimidation or the other in the hand of its workers. This agency should understand that law was supposed to remain static, not principle. So, it is crucial that TIMARIV does not change from the established laws to work on human principles. It is on the premise of the laws that Amaechi, around June, ordered that motorists driving against the traffic their car keys should be seized. Many drivers were victims unsuspecting that Amaechi was on his way for the not-in-the-diary inspection tour of projects. Traffic offenders were aghast when they saw him controlling the enormous traffic-jam to ensure a free flow of traffic. His aides and security men were not left out of the exercise. They helped to ensure a sane traffic movement.
There could be bad roads in Port Harcourt, but how overwhelmed are the road users when they go contrary to traffic rules? Dissidents on the roads of Port Harcourt have always made the governor to appear numerous times on live radio programmes in Port Harcourt and appealed that the residents should comprehend with the government on the gridlock traffic situation that is continual in the city. Without exonerating the government’s perceived flaws in the maintenance of roads in Rivers State, one does not think that Amaechi is on the road every day. It is the residents that cause the untold traffic-jam on daily basis.
Therefore, it is an appeal that the government should put in place bad segments of uncompleted roads in Rivers State. This will help the residents to understand the traffic congestion as something not caused by bad roads and help subside the suffering of the people plying the roads as residents are no longer entertained by the bad state of roads and the attendant traffic jams they cause. The state government should do something urgently if it was serious about attracting investors. With good roads and investors trooping into the state, revenue that could be generated from them might spur the State government not to have the approval of the state House of Assembly to borrow N100 billion which was intended to help fund its infrastructure projects. The bulk of the loan which was aimed at making down payments for power distribution projects that will ensure uninterrupted power supply in Rivers State by 2012 would have been gotten without the government sweating much in the stock market.
Distribution of roads will never be sufficient in Rivers State, no matter what has been perceived as “enough generation capacity” the state has. The state government’s plan to issue a shelf registration for N250 billion at the capital market would have been stalled if all the ministries in the state are efficiently working and earnestly contributing to the wellbeing of the Amaechi-led government of Rivers State. As was defined by experts, shelf registration is a procedure that allows corporations or government (as in this case) file one registration statement covering several issues over a period of time.
Amaechi should worry the Ministry of Works not to allow contractors that were given the contracts of re-constructing the Rivers roads relax on their responsibilities. He has to always remind those working with him of the joint Press Conference three commissioners in the Ministries of Works, Information and Communications, and Culture and Tourism, conducted. This was held on Tuesday 4 October 2011. Victor Giadom, the Works Commissioner pleaded with the people of the state to be patient for the next 30 days. The plea was that when the rains will subside and dry season sets in there will be a comprehensive construction of all the major roads initially started but stopped at the peak of the rains in Rivers State.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author, Media/Writing Consultant and Motivator, is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV); and Founder, Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State