Chief among the challenges confronting the people is the problem of bad roads. According to residents, all the access roads within the community have suffered total neglect for long. As a result, the roads have all dilapidated completely and become impassable, with businesses in the area now in ruins.
Kingsley Ihunwo, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Rivers State University of Science and Technology, is one of the taxi drivers that ply the Rumuagholu-Rumuokoro route. He reports that he went into taxi business out of frustration after failing to secure a job. He spoke on the daily hassles of plying the roads of Rumuagholu.
“Due to the poor condition of Rumuagholu-Rumuokoro Road, we no longer go through the Rumuagholu Road. We now go through the East-West Road to boycott Rumuagholu Road. Also, we can no longer access Rasa. That place is terribly bad. Rasa is the last bus stop where we make a U-turn back to this Rumuokoro roundabout. Even Obiri-Ikwere, where we were managing, is equally bad.
“Please, we’re using this medium to beg the Rivers State government to help us repair this road and other roads around this area. In the whole of this area, apart from the East-West Road, which is a federal road, all the roads are in a very horrible state. They should fix these roads to enable us do our businesses,” he pleaded.
He disclosed that a drive from Rumuokoro to Rasa, which should not take more than five minutes, now takes about 30 minutes. He regretted that the bulk of their income is usually spent on car maintenance.
A resident of the area, Mrs. Pauline Iheagwam relayed her daily experience while taking her children to and from school. Her words: “In this Rumuagholu community, there are four roads. But all are in shambles. Of course, you have seen what Rumuagholu Road looks like. Sometime last year, government came and poured red mud on some portions of it, and they then abandoned it. The road turned out to be a nightmare.
“The challenges we’ve been having on this road is so terrible. All the three roads that lead outside Rumuagholu are all bad. The road from T-Junction to Nkpolu is bad. The one from Rasa to Obiri-Ikwere is terrible. The one from Rumuagholu to Rumuokoro is even the worst. Those of us in Rumuagholu have been suffering so much. These roads have become totally dilapidated and the impact is telling greatly on us.
“For instance, as a mother, it has not been easy taking my children to and from school. Passing these roads, especially, Rumuagholu Road even in one day is a terrible experience that nobody would want to have. It’s like going through hell. Most times you come home tired and fagged out, unable to carry out your duties as a wife and mother.”
She also spoke on the impact of the bad roads on their vehicles. Most people have parked their cars at home. They prefer using commercial vehicles now. Virtually every day, you go visit a mechanic. It is terrible. It is bad. I wish and pray that through this medium, the government would sympathise with us. We’re really calling on them. We’re suffering so much.”
A mobile phone and accessories technician, whose outlet is on the Rumuagholu Road, Mr. Eze Egeonu described the roads as an environmental mess. He said the road has been a major setback for businessmen in the area. He also said the state of the road scares away prospective customers, especially those who come in their vehicles.
“When they think about the condition of the road, it discourages them. We earn a living here by the grace of God,” he stated.
“We expected the government of former Governor Rotimi Amechi to do something about it, but they abandoned us to suffer. But now, we are calling on Wike to come and repair this Rumuagholu and other bad roads for us. He should save us from this environmental mess.
“We are not asking for too much. Our leaders love violence and that is why violence currently prevails across the nation. And the fraction of people causing them sleepless nights now is just five percent of idle youths and persons. They can then imagine when the majority of jobless persons and youths in this country take to crime or take up arms.”
Kareem Abiodun, a tricycle driver, said the level of decay on the roads in the community has left the people dumb.
“All the money we make, we spend in repairing our keke (tricycles). And we have to maintain our families and ourselves. It is very difficult, as the mechanic eats almost all the money we make on daily bias. At the end of the day, you end up borrowing more money. You hustle, yet you’re a liability to your wife instead of being the caretaker. It is annoying.
“So, we’re calling on the new governor, Chief Wike, to save us from this horror that we go through on daily basis and do the road for us. This raining season, it has become hell. From here to T-junction is less than five or ten minutes. But now, we spend between 25 and 30 minutes burning away fuel. So, Governor Wike should intervene now and help us do the road.”
Relieving her experiences, Miss Emmanuela Iheagwam said she was always happy each day after returning from school.
“Going to school is supposed to be fun. But due to the bad condition of our roads, most times, going to school was stressful and hell, because the roads are very bad, I used to ride in the school bus. Unfortunately, the school bus stopped coming to this community. I had to start going on my own. Often, the tricycle that we board will sink and splash mud on people. People do fall off the keke when it swerves. Even the stagnant water flows into the tricycles because the gullies on these roads are quite deep. Presently, the roads have gone even worse. Most times, we wear scandals or slippers to school. I thank God I was able to overcome.
“We are pleading with the Rivers State government to help us fix this Rumuagholu road, up to Nkpolu area. Everywhere is just terrible. It’s a nightmare passing any of the roads here when it rains. Everywhere is usually flooded, as sand and refuse have blocked the drainages. Many parents do not allow their children go to school when it rains.”
Kazeem Precious, Gift John and Ebiere Tamuno, all pupils of Brightest and Best Academy, Wosi Street, also sang songs of agony.
And just while some of the affected people were baring their minds on the state of the roads, an elderly woman slipped and fell inside the stagnant waters. After being helped to her feet, she poured out her frustrations.
“In this Nigeria, we have suffered. How can a country be generating so much money from God’s vast endowments, yet the roads are in such a bad state? Look at the roads. Rumuagholu Road and virtually all roads in this community have been in impassable state for several years now. We are suffering, but nobody cares.”