Residents take to swimming as Enugu bridge collapses
Tiamiyu Saheed Oluwatosin
Many communities in Enugu, Ebonyi, Benue and other Northern states have been cut off following the collapse of Ikem Bridge in Enugu State.
The bridge, which is the access road to Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu, also links other communities, including Neke and Udenu, the home local government and community of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Residents of Isi-Uzo Council Area of Enugu State and other neighbouring States, who spoke on the development on Saturday expressed pain and frustration.
The bridge, which is across Ebenyi River, is the only access road linking several communities to the Enugu capital city.
It was built by the Nigerian Army shortly after the Nigeria civil war and finally succumbed to total collapse on Friday when a truck carrying 900 bags of cement rested on it.
While some residents had quickly commenced putting up a makeshift bamboo bridge to trek across the river to get to their homes and neighbours, others have resorted to swimming.
“It is now a divided kingdom,” said Mr. Frank Nnamani, who was cut off between his home and his block industry across the river.
“Buses plying Eha-Amufu to Enugu now terminate at different ends of the river and travellers swim across to continue their journey just as the incident has divided the community’s Orie market into two, with one at its original market venue and the new one at Ikem junction across the Ebenyi river”, he added.
Mr. Nnamani who further lamented the plight said: “Now that there is nothing to manage again as we were managing, the best thing is for the state government to remobilize the contractor that absconded from the site to continue work on the concrete span bridge abandoned by the past state administration.”
Speaking on the matter earlier, the Chairman of Isi-Uzo LGA, Augustine Nnamani maintained that his council had been spending money to maintain the collapsed bridge, adding that the council was still making monthly contributions to the state government for the Enugu-Ikem road project, which had gone to 90 percent completion.
Some other residents interacted with said “It is even good that the bridge has come to an end so that attention will be paid to the abandoned bridge contract.”
Reactions have also been expressed by the different people who learnt about the development:
Mr. Chuks Nweze, a social commentator said: “We should pray for Nigeria. How can such a bridge be found in a country called giant of Africa?”, whereas Mr Edozie Odunze suggested that the 900 bags of cement be used in constructing the bridge.
Meanwhile, Press gathered that but for the swift intervention of policemen from Isi-Uzo Division, the driver of the truck would have been mobbed.
Police spokesman in Enugu State, DSP, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed this said, “youths numbering hundreds, with other members of the community, had trooped out to unleash mayhem on the driver and the conductor of a said truck loaded with cement which tried to pass through their ancient bridge and their only link to Enugu town but due to the heavy load, the bridge collapsed.
“The incident occurred at about 12pm. in spite of that, no life was lost in the said incident just as the operatives are monitoring the area.”
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