By Ugochukwu Alaribe
Students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, MOUAU, Abia State, yesterday, barricaded the Umuahia–Ikot Ekpene federal highway protesting the death of their final year colleague following a truck accident.
The student identified as Chidinma Ogbonna, a final student of Department of Fisheries and Acquatic resources Management, was said to have been hit by a truck driver who lost control of his vehicle while negotiating a bad portion of the dilapidated Umuahia –Ikot Ekpene highway.
In a video of the incident which has gone viral, Chidinma’s brain was splashed on the road. The situation caused heavy gridlock on the area as the students stated that they are determined to stay on the road until it is rehabilitated.
“This is not the first time students have lost their lives on this road. Many have gone. Now, we have lost a final year student because the federal government has failed to rehabilitate the road. Enough is enough. We have suffered for too long .Today; we are determined to stay on this road till it is fixed.”
While addressing students during the protest, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Maduebisi Ofo Iwe described the death of the final year student as painful and thanked the undergraduates for keeping the protest peaceful and extracting a promise from the State Government to commence palliative work on the said road.
He urged the students and the entire University community to maintain calm and return to their lawful businesses while waiting for FERMA and the state government to mobilize and commence work on the road.
A statement by Public Relations Officer of the University, Mrs Adanma Odefa, disclosed that the Vice Chancellor had invited FERMA on an inspection of the bad spots, took pictorial evidence and prepared an appeal letter to FERMA.
“It is no longer news that the Abia State end of the Umuahia/ Ikot-Ekpene road has become barely passable. No doubt, the sorry state of the road has occasioned untold hardship on our staff and student populations, including the loss of lives of our dear students.
“The latest painful loss is the death of Miss Chidinma Ogbonna, a 500 level student of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management. The VC personally took these documents to FERMA headquarters in Abuja to make further physical appeals. His efforts were rewarded with an official approval for palliative work to begin on the road.‘‘
“The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, and the entire Management are deeply saddened by this great loss. We ask her family to please accept our heartfelt condolences. The VC is well aware of the challenges presented by the sorry state of the road and have not been idle. For the past few weeks, the VC through his SA on Projects, Engr. Richard Onyeaso, invited the local FERMA on an inspection of the bad spots, took pictorial evidence and prepared a strong appeal letter to FERMA. The VC personally took these documents to FERMA headquarters in Abuja to make further physical appeals. His efforts were rewarded with an official approval for palliative work to begin on the road.
“We further appeal to the operators of mini buses, motor tricycles and motorcycles to be more responsible in operating these vehicles. Their recklessness is, unfortunately, a major contributor to some tragic incidents that could be avoided.’
Meanwhile, Vanguard observed that stones have been heaped on the dilapidated portion of the road.
The Umuahia –Ikot Ekpene highway has been in dilapidated state despite several palliative measures by the Federal Road Maintenance agency, FERMA and the Abia State government.
Ikpeazu orders immediate fixing of failed portions
Following the protest, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu has ordered the fixing of the failed spots of the Umuahia – Ikot Ekpene highway.
Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, stated that the Governor has directed PUMECO Construction company to deploy to site on Wednesday 6th October and fix all the failed portions.
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