By Godwin Anene
Irked by the fast-collapsing state of the Akpajo Bridge in the Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, federal lawmakers in the state including the senator representing South East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Barry Mpigi on Monday led others to protest against the deplorable nature of the bridge.
They lamented that the Akpajo Bridge located at Eleme axis of the East West Road had become a ‘death trap’ to commuters and people of the area, and called on the federal government to immediately intervene before the bridge finally cave in.
Senator Mpigi, joined by the current member representing Obio Akpo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Mr Kingsley Chinda, and former lawmakers in the state, accused the federal government on maintaining silence on issues relating to Rivers State for political differences.
Also among the placard carrying lawmakers were former Rivers Works Commissioner and Member Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency, Dumnamene Dekor, Awani-Ilombek Abiante (Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency) as well as member representing Eleme in the Rivers Assembly, Igwe Afoji.
Protesting at the site of the collapsing bridge, the frustrated protesters flying various placards with different inscriptions, they noted that the bridge was key to the socio-economic activities of River State and other road users plying the East West road to neighbouring states.
Addressing journalists during the protest, Senator Mpigi said, “We are appalled at the terrible situation of this bridge. Almost everything Nigeria survives on lives with us here. You have the Refinery, Petrochemical industry, fuel depot, the Oil and Gas Free-zone, Navy School, among others.
“But see what is happening here at the bridge. We are being abandoned. This is a federal road, not Rivers government’s. The bridge, as vehicles passing through, is shaking. Any moment from now, it will collapse totally and lives in this area will be cut off from rest of this country.
“We must ask, are we really part of Nigeria or not? This contract has been awarded for a long time to RCC. The Vice President has been here. Ministry of Niger Delta has taken dimensions. Up till now, just to release the budget and execute, we are rather being abandoned.
Hon Oke Chinda said, “In the National Assembly, those of us from Rivers have protested over the treatment of our people particularly concerning this bridge and the East West Road. We found that there is graveyard silence when it comes issues concerning Rivers.
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“That is why having brought motion on the floor of the NASS, members of the NASS have supported that the Executive Arm should quickly ensure that this bridge is taken care of to forestall lost of lives. The Executive is not sensitive to the NASS resolutions.
“That is why we are now taking it to court of public opinion, to tell the people that we have been calling on the Executive to take steps. We pray and hope this will sensitise them to action. This is the beginning of the action of Rivers NASS members. If no action is taken, we will take further steps.”
Some of the placards flown by the protesting lawmaker read, Rivers is part of Nigeria”, “Ministry of Niger Delta, where is our East West Road”, “Akpajo-Eleme Bridge leads to backbone of Nigeria’s economy”, “Akpajo-Eleme Bridge collapse imminent”, among others.