Warri, a one-time beautiful and bustling city, has become a laughing stock. The city has been severely scoffed at several fora as a place where people appreciate talk more than physical development. Some social media freaks have recently used its state of roads as raw probative data for articulating what is not right about Delta State. The city has so much promise. It has all the potentials to be Africa’s Dubai. Many of its indigenes are very talented. Warri, it was, groomed and ignited the first spark of inspiration to famous professional stand-up comics like AY, I Go Dye, Gordons, and many others, who brought thrill to stage comedy and modern live theatre in Nigeria.
A large chunk of its population are young, ebullient and enterprising. Several businesses have also found a conducive atmosphere in the city. Warri is host to some of the biggest and most successful companies in Delta state, if not in Nigeria. One of the four recognized refineries in Nigeria, the Warri Refinery, is in Warri. It may even be the place that contributes more to the state’s internal revenue base. Most past and present government officials in Delta state live in Warri. If they don’t live in the city, they have investments there. If they don’t have investment of any kind in the city, such officials may, at least within four times a year, attend one public function or another in the city. Warri is also a rich melting point. The city’s contributions are so diverse. Yet, it probably has some of the worse major roads (and amorphous transport system) in any Nigerian city one can think of, and this is not a small matter.
Since 1999, past governors of Delta state have promised to provide good roads in Warri. Unfortunately, they could not keep their words. The second civilian governor of the state promised good roads when he campaigned for governorship. He indeed improved road networks in Warri on assumption of office. But sadly, most of the roads the erstwhile Delta state governor constructed did not stand the test of time. Many of the roads have failed; some are now seriously pot-holed, while others are fast deteriorating. Several contractors were contracted to rehabilitate these roads, still most of them remained today in bad shape.
His successor did his earthly best to improve the condition of roads. He dualised some major roads in Warri. But most of them were poorly constructed. During his administration, many roads which were rehabilitated failed within six months after – Refinery road in Effurun being a good example. This very road has undergone rehabilitation for more than four times now. Some roads were even rehabilitated and when they deteriorated, they got even worse than they were before they were constructed. And this has really set the state aback in many areas. It appears that road remains a huge challenge to the well-being of Wafarians today.
Currently, most major roads in Warri are bad. Although Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has done well to fix roads in inner parts of the city, his administration, in terms of road construction and rehabilitation, is yet to be felt in major areas. As this piece is penned, Cinema Junction, before Okumagba Estate, has become difficult to drive on. Lower Erejuwa is now a nightmare to road users. Okere road, by the Anglican Church, is bad. Mcdermott road, by former Globestar, is not good either. Deco road, by Emebirhen Junction, is bad. NPA Expressway, particularly the portion close to Ugbuwanghwe market, is bad. Etuwhewe, off Deco road, is equally bad. Giwa-Amu road is bad. The road that leads to Education Board, when coming from Airport road Junction, is appalling. Bazunu by Odibo Street, a major link road, is horrible. The popular Enerhen Junction is terrible. Anytime it rains, this particular road becomes a river. How can businesses thrive in this kind of situation? Your Excellency, do you visit Warri at all? Mr. Governor, do try to visit these roads and see things for yourself. Do something quickly about them too.
These roads make life torturous for Wafarians. The roads mock the cityness of Warri. They do not portray your government in good light. The state of the roads are capable of cancelling out other strides of your administration. Since your days as Delta State’s commissioner for Health, this essayist has followed your political activities closely. You have a serious and altruistic spirit. You are no slipshod, but these roads will make Wafarians especially consider you as a governor who is not serious. They can make them conceive you as insensitive and mean-spirited. Still more, bad roads in Warri would not encourage peace and security. They obviously inflict pains on commuters – children, pregnant women and senior citizens especially. The roads can discourage hardwork among youths. The economic effects of the bad roads are also there. They will drive away business investors. They will discourage taxpayers. They will also make small and medium Scale businesses, which the state hopes to use to conquer poverty, to fail. Moreover, the thirty-six states of Nigeria have their commercial hub. Warri is arguably the financial capital of Delta state. If the major roads are not rehabilitated, it can cause the state to lose its clout among other states.
Wafarians need good roads. They deserve it. Residents of Warri have been active participants in the state’s political journey. They contributed to your electoral victory in 2015. Wafarians supported you at the time not because they were not tempted by lofty promises offered by other candidates, but because they were convinced that you are the one eminently able to meet their immediate and routine needs. Do not fail them in such a basic need like road. Remember you will be going to the city to campaign for re-election in the coming days. What would you, Your Excellency, tell Wafarians about the state of Warri roads? A state like Delta cannot do things arbitrarily.
The state must learn to plan in the short- and long-term. A state like Delta needs a development plan for every sector. As the city continues to witness the pressure of a dense population and a lot of construction activities to meet housing demands, government should be conscious of constructing only roads that can last for a long time. Since road network is a hot necessity for any city that wants to develop, after major roads must have been rehabilitated by your government, it will not be out of place to consider a road development plan for the city of Warri.
Ochibejivwie wrote from Warri.