Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well”.-Martin Luther King Jr.
The crowd was overwhelming and no segment of the Aba population was left out-the artisans, school children, market women, commercial drivers and tricycle operators. Everybody was struggling to catch a glimpse of their governor, and” this is our governor, this is our governor”, rented the air and was amplified by the harmattan wind.
The jubilations and joy were pervasive and it was written over the faces of the people. The jubilations spread from Umuola Road, the first port of call of the inspection party -made up of journalists, governor’s aides, contractors, permanent secretary, commissioner, and the governor- to Ehere Road, Emelogu, St. Michael’s, Hospital, Jubilee, Old Court, Echefu, Weeks, Owerrinta street, off Asa Road, Kamalu, Umuocham, Umule Road, where the inspection terminated.
The inspection was informed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s desire to serve Abians and serve them well this year the rain came in torrents and slowed down the progress of roads construction in Abia, especially Aba, the commercial nerve of the state.
The governor’s ambition is to make sure that out of the 45 roads that are ongoing in Abia today, that he would use the dry season window to complete between 15 and 20.In the process, some other roads that need urgent intervention like St. Michaels, Hospital, Jubilee and Old court were identified.
The question is not all about construction of roads. But there is a very significant departure from the past as these newly- constructed roads would outlive the administration of Gov. Ikpeazu, courtesy of the cement technology.
In Abia today, cement technology is in vogue and is the minimum standard.The state is pioneering this technology in this part of the country.
Cement technology, also known as “Rigid Pavement Technology in road construction ensures the mixture of crush rock-based materials and other items to achieve a thickness fill and compaction to the level of 300mm.
This is followed by a concrete reinforcement cast with 8mm to10mm-high tensil (mash of wires) reinforcement bars over the stabilised base before treating it with prime coat and asphaltic concrete.
Though the cost of this technology is higher than those of the conventional construction methods, Gov. Ikpeazu chooses this technology as a means of strengthening the load-bearing capacity of roads in Abia and to boost the strength and quality of the finished work.The technology has a sustainability guarantee of10 to 20 years.
Cement technology is one of the technologies used in the construction of airport runways, tarmac and places with heavy loads like machines and equipment. The technology is a good solution for achieving sustainable roads in Nigeria.
To Ikpeazu, quality is the watch word for every contractor and the era of cutting corners is over.”I will deny any contractor that is not working according to specifications. My only business with contractors is that they do that which is right. I don’t have any attachment; I’m not a contractor and I will never be any. I urge those doing well to continue to do so because they will remain my friend. Those who are not doing what we asked them to do, we show them the way out. Beyond that, if you have followed us from beginning, you will see that we have recommended some amendment. You can see the one being done at Emelogu. You see that the turning won’t serve the purpose because the turning is a serious exit point from the city. Big Lorries will ply the road in the days ahead. For sharp ends, we are meticulous. For corners that come at angles that are acute, you have to knock it down and rebuild. For buildings that are obstructing the right of way, I have said that any structure on the right of way as far as I’m concerned, I don’t even visualize it. As far as I’m concerned, mine is to reclaim government land and serve the interest of the people.
“I think im satisfied with the drainages. The minimum for us is that every contractor becomes .We are more interested in drainage channels than anything else. If you give us good drainage plans, we will run from there. We will put their identities on the roads. Soon, the board will be there, you will see every detail about the contract: the day it was awarded, the contractor. So, if they say it is good, they will put their signature,” the governor said.
Ikpeazu has demonstrated that development is not deterred by funds but by lack of the spirit and courage to execute it. According to him, “The overriding import is service; we are desperate to give service to the people of Abia state. We will continue to do it as the funds are available. It is better we die serving Abia people. So, what are we keeping the money for? If money is available; we will use it to serve the people. Funding is not a barrier. The prayers of the good people of Abia will find the funds for us to do what we want to do. We are in government to serve the people and remember that in my early days, I said I was going to be common governor for the common people”.
Right from the inception of his administration, Ikpeazu has always identified himself as “the common governor for the common people”. But I identify him as “the common governor with the uncommon touch”.
Ukegbu is SSA to Gov. Ikpeazu on media.