… Despite sitting on the largest gas reserve south of the Niger river; 200+ oil wells, flow stations 

Most communities in the Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State are gradually being cut off from the State capital, Port Harcourt.

The roads which give the natives access to parts of the State as well as other neighboring states are rapidly collapsing.

Swimming through one of Etche’s terribly dilapidated roads

The situation is worsening by the day, according to facts that are emerging from the area, and the people who are predominantly farmers are becoming increasingly worried.

The only stable road within the Ulakwo/Umuselem clan is the Odufor – Umonye Road built by the Wike administration. The remaining access roads in Ulakwo/Umuselem are not usuable

The Egwi – Afara Road for instance, has become impassable. Most parts of the road, particularly in Afara community, have depreciated badly.

A tanker conveying petroleum products lost its tank along the bumpy but wet Afara road a couple of days ago.

The driver and the motor boy escaped after the content of the tanker  spewed unto the defaced surface of the road

Part of the tanker which fell as a result of the defaced road at Afara.

Basil Nwonuola said, “We want you (Telegraph) to let the world see how we are suffering. Afara community and Etcheland have been forgotten.

“Our women can no longer go to market, our people are forced to stay put in their homes, there is hunger and we want NEMA to come and help us.”

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From Egwi, vehicles – big and small – are able to drive through potholes to Ulakwo 1.

“It is a no-go-area from the Akwa Road Junction to Ulakwo 2”, Promise Nworgu hinted this publication.

“Only 15 tonne trucks can dare drive from Ulakwo 2 to Akwukabi on the way to Okehi”, Nworgu remarked.

Between Omerelu in Ikwerre Local Government Area  and Omuma in Omuma local Government Area, a Federal Road which runs through parts of Ozuzu and Okehi Clan is failing rapidly.

Most parts of the road which link Isu, Ihie,  Egbu. Umuaturu, Okehi, Umuola and Omuma are in various stages of disrepair. There are potholes everywhere.

Trucks snaking through Etche on the way to their destinations.

Igboagwuruasa clan has not been spared either. The sand miners and their tippers as well as the heavy duty trucks and the rate of vehicular traffic now that Etche has turned into an impprtant bye-pass used by transporters have conspired to worsen the state of existing roads in the area.

Obinna Nweke, CDC Chairman of Umulu community in Igboh said the situation on the Old Douglas Road now known as Igboh Road, which links Etche to Oyigbo, Eleme and the Ogoni speaking areas has been significantly eroded.

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“The road is worse now”, Nweke told the Port Harcourt Telegraph in a chat, “Commuters who use the route to their villages and states which share boundaries with Rivers State are suffering.”

Poor state of the Igbo-Eleme Road which links Etche to Oyigbo and Port Harcourt. 

Picture shows how bad the situation on the Igbo-Etche Eleme junction Road has become

 

“We are appealing to the Government to come to our aid. Our people are almost cut off from the rest of the State.”

Commuters approaching Etche from Igwuruta in the Ikwerre Local Government Area enjoy a dualized road up to Chokocho.

Work on that part of the Igwuruta – Okehi – Okpala Road began under the Amaechi administration. It was completed up to Chokocho by the Wike administration.

After the Chokocho – Okomoko Bridge, signs of the decaying road are visible to the eye.

Between Umuanyagu, Okomoko and Egwi, evidence of a failed road can be seen.

From Umuanyagu to Okoragu, the road which takes commuters to Odagwa enroute Owaza have completely collapsed.

At Chokota, Ikwerengwo and Umuebulu, the story. The situation is the same. Natives and those who reside in their homes are finding it hard to leave their homes.

Dilapidated Etche roads looking more like waterways 

Incidentally, apart from being a food basket is an oil producing area.

Today, Etche, according to Wikipedia, has over 250 producing oil wells and a host of flow stations.

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Wikipedia, a highly recommended source of information online, also notes that Etche reportedly has the largest deposit of natural gas, south of the Niger river.

Despite its mineral endowment, the Etche nation has benefitted very little from the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

The GMoU agreements entered into between host communities and oil majors have not resulted in any significant changes in the Etche developmental landscape.

A truck wading through a degraded road that is waterlogged 

Etche inspite of its contributions to the political and economic evolution of Rivers State has neither produced a Senator nor profited from the usual appointments made to fill the NDDC Board.

Ignored and neglected, Etche leaders across political divides say they still have faith in Rivers State.

There are oil and gas everywhere, but the beneficiaries are people and communities which do not compare in terms of the mineral resources that are being taken from their land.

When will help come? Where will it come from? No one is sure, but the Etche people pray that a Moses with the wisdom of Solomon will come.

It is a tall order, some say, but a prayer worth offering, at least from the standpoint of the Etche Ethnic Nationality.

Will nature flash a smile and stretch a helping hand? Will Etche’s underdevelopment and under-utilization ever draw to a close?

Only time will tell.