Extortions and loss of Time at the Onitsha head bridge
along Asaba -Onitsha Highway are at the Peak
By Ovie Edomi
James Okoro, lives in Asaba but works in Onitsha. In the last three years, he leaves his residence 6am even then he gets trapped at the traffic near the bridge at the Asaba end for about 40 minutes. However people who gets to the same spot much later possibly between 8am and 10am stay in the same traffic for not less than two hours.
It is even worse for those who are coming from Onitsha and entering Asaba or heading to Benin city and so on.
Commuters just like residents of Asaba who work or conduct their businesses at Onitsha have different tales of woo to tell. Their daily regular experiences along the River Niger bridge is according to Okoro another dying in installments.
Only recently, two people fell from the bridge into the water. Eye witness say accident on the bridge is now a frequent occurrence
The present River Niger bridge linking Onitsha and Asaba was completed in December 1965. It was built by the French construction company, Dumez. Its total length is 4.606 feet (1.404) and the entire construction took over a year, from 1964 to 1965 to complete, at the cost of £6.75million.
No doubt, the bridge has been a linkage to the eastern states and beyond, but recent happenings in and around the bridge leaves many commuters worried.
For instance, on daily basis, hundreds of commuters are seen tracking along the bridge with no one coming to their rescue. In other instances, lots of business people park their vehicles at different car parks near the head bridge at the Asaba end and use motorcycle also known as Okada to carry goods from the Onitsha end of the bridge to the other side before the owners put them inside their vehicles.
Mr. Chibuike Bathlomew, a resident at Nkpor, in Anambra state, and a trader at New motor parts market said one of the factors responsible for the gridlock along the bridge is the failed portion of the road close to the bridge, which he said is deeper than pothole, and when commuters get to that spot, he said they slow down because some cars he explained have fallen into the gully on several occasions. So in the process of slowing down to negotiate, with other commuters negotiating to enter the bridge via the same route as well, gridlock begins to build up.
Mr. Chibuike explained that the presence of joint Task-force and men from Federal Road Safety Corps equally contribute to the gridlock. The various security forces sometimes carry out search, due to the issue of what he described as “unknown government”.
He noted that the military men stationed before the bridge when coming from Asaba are equally responsible for the traffic goldilocks because of the way they delay vehicles along the road.