Thursday, October 10, 2013


The commercial city of Aba used to be famous for the ingenuity of the locals.  They copied and produced all manners of products.  In fact, any product that was not made abroad was popularly referred to as Made in Aba or Aba made.  Those were the days when the city was groovy.

Aba, popularly known as Enyimba City, is in a shambolic state.  Divided into two local government areas, – Aba South and Aba North, it is characterised by infrastructural collapse, particularly dilapidated roads.  In fact, the roads can be likened to valleys in the shadow of death.

Following days of torrential rain few days ago, coupled with bad roads and lack of drains, flood has ravaged some areas in the city of Aba resulting, in the destruction of goods and property worth several millions of naira. The most affected areas are Ngwa Road axis including East Street, Ehi/Cameroon Roads by Eziukwu, Azuka Extension in Ogbor Hill, Ukwu Mango and some parts of Ariaria market, among others.

The flood, which depth was put at over four feets in some areas, caused serious damage to household property and goods parked in warehouses and shops.   A driver with one of the orthodox churches in the city said the flood destroyed virtually all the household property he had laboured over the years to acquire.

“I went to work on Monday and by the time it started raining by midday; I knew I was in for trouble because of poor network of roads in the area where I am living coupled with lack of drainage system. “My fears became real as I approached my house, I saw my pots of soup floating on the flood water and when I managed to get inside my room, my bed and other household property were floating as well.”

You would not like to be in Aba when it rains.  When the heavens open, the tears, pains and anguish of Aba residents flow like a river.  When it rains, Aba becomes a floating city because their drainages are blocked where they exist.

Living in Aba is, indeed, a nightmare.  To be condemned to reside there is living in bondage, it is living in a state of perpetual suffering. It presents a pathetic picture that can melt even a stony heart.  It is a portrait of a city criminally neglected.

You begin to feel the situation of Aba even before you come to town.  To start with, it is often difficult to find a cab that will take you from Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, Imo State. The reason is not far fetched.  A trip to Aba can take anything from five hours for a distance of far less than 100 kilometres.  So, only the brave driver can embark on such a trip and the passenger must be ready to cough out about half of the air fair from Lagos to Owerri.

Coming to Aba from Owerri, you will begin to understand why airport taxi drivers avoid Aba like a flea when you get to KM 7 Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.  There, vehicles are easily buried in the gullies on both sides.  When a trailer is trapped in there, commuters can be stuck there for several hours.  On such occasions, some passengers alight from their vehicles and cross over to the other side and board another vehicle.  But it is not usually as easy as that.  The depth of the mud on the road is such that if you step out of the vehicle, it will swallow your shoes.  So, before stepping out to trek, you must remove your shoes and fold your trousers to knee length.

And after navigating to the other side, you buy water to wash up before wearing your shoes again.  Another tragedy could strike while you are trying to clean up. Your money and other valuable things could be snatched by criminals, prowling the area.

Apart from the ugly state of roads in Aba, other areas suffer corresponding neglect. Take this: Epidemic looms in the city because of overflowing refuse dumpsites everywhere.  For example, East Street has been overtaken by refuse. Emelogu Street is home to a mountain of refuse.  Heaps of decaying, smelly refuse also constitute eye sore at such places as Ngwa Road, Asa Road, Aba-Owerri Road, Omuma Road and Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road, among many others.  Aba is dirty, very dirty indeed.  And it is nobody’s business to evacuate the filth.

Pools of stagnant water on the streets, especially residential areas could have dire consequences for Aba residents.  Among other places, Ehere Road at Ogbor Hill, Ohanku Road, Ngwa and Omuma are cases in point.  In these areas, pools of dirty, smelly water stagnate all year long because of blocked drainages.  In some cases, residents wade through the pool daily to access their homes.

The abbatoir at Waterside is another potential source of health hazard to Aba people.  When the reporter visited the facility recently, it was in a distasteful state.  An acrid odour hung in the air like a fog.  Worse still, a decomposing corpse was abandoned on the bridge, close to the slaughter point, with flies feasting on it.  Indeed, it was an ugly spectacle.  Instructively, soldiers, who had maintained a checkpoint at the spot beside the abandoned Enyima Hotel building since kidnappers held the city by the jugular, moved a few inches away because of the stench emanating from the corpse.

It was also gathered that cows at the abbatoir are sometimes allowed to run riot on the road causing accidents.  Mr. Andrew Z. Esiaba, a banker, lamented: “We escaped death by the whiskers the other day when a cow ran onto the road and started destroying everything in sight.  It took sometime before the handlers were able to bring it under control.  That was not the first time such a thing was happening.  In fact, it happens all the time and sometimes people lose their lives.  Unfortunately, the authorities are not doing anything to arrest the menace of the cattle and their rearers.”