The Horror That Is Living In Oyigbo

Florence Uwaeme

Oyigbo is a local government in Rivers state which has Afam as its local government headquarters. Created in 1991, Oyigbo shares boundaries with Abia state. This area is popularly called Obigbo. Mainly because the area is inhabited mostly by Igbos. Obigbo is like a satellite village. And as is common with most satellite settlements, most of the people who live in Obigbo work or trade in Port Harcourt town.

At about ten or seven years ago, there was a record of mass exodus of families from Port Harcourt city to Obigbo. This mass exodus was because of the affordability of real estate. Several people bought houses; others bought lands and built their own houses while some others rented affordable apartments.

The case as it is now is that living in Oyigbo is a simple depiction of horror. Whether you live and work in Port Harcourt town or you live and trade/work in Oyigbo, the horror stories are the same.

Ordinarily, a trip from Oyigbo express to Eleme junction should not take more than 20 minutes drive. This is only attainable in the 90’s or there about; when the roads were still accessible. Because right now, a trip from Oyibo express to Eleme junction takes more than 2 hours. The only reason this trip of horror lasts longer than it should is because the road from Eleme Junction through Obigbo express is a night-mare. Residents of Oyigbo who live and work/trade in town can attest to the long suffering that has become their fate.

Although the road has been awarded to a Chinese construction company whose approach to the job given can only be described as snail-like. Honestly, I don’t think finishing the job is on any of their bucket list. Even though I am not a construction expert, I have seen where major roads are being constructed or reconstructed as it is the case here. To make life a bit bearable for the users of a road under construction, the company in-charge at least makes one lane usable. In this case, no such lane was made usable at all. A ride during the rainy season will leave in tears.

During the rainy season, transportation companies like ABC, Peace Mass Transit, God Is Good motors avoid this road. They ply the old Igbo Etche road which in itself isn’t a beautiful option but that it is better than the Port Harcourt-Aba expressway makes it considerable. A journey from Port Harcourt to Enugu that ordinarily should take four hours maximum now takes six to seven hours.

From Eleme junction; through Boskel junction, Intels Junction, Trailer Park, Okra market, Timber, Mife to Obigbo express, a ride on this road during the rainy season is a tale of horror. It never ends in praise. Most days, due to the gridlock on the road, road users have to trek from Tap to Eleme junction; that is if they see where to put their legs before they drown on the road.

The road now belongs to motorcycle operators who now charge an arm to get you to Eleme junction. You will be lucky if you get to your destination unscathed. Most times, passengers and riders fall off the motorcycle while trying to swim one ocean or the other. On several cases, I have trekked from Tap junction to Eleme junction because the road was completely blocked. I have heard several tales of drivers sleeping on the road due to the gridlock, especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of traders conveying their goods to Oil Mill market.

The types of suffering people that ply this road on a daily are subjected to can only be imagined.

You may think that the suffering ends only on the Port Harcourt-Aba expressway which is said to be a federal road. But how wrong you are! The suffering continues from Obigbo round-about to Afam; the local government headquarters.

Before the 2019 general elections, from Obigbo express to Obigbo market used to be a death trap. It was during one of Wike’s visits to Oyigbo that the road was hurriedly fixed. Till date, the other part of the road that was graded has now become a death trap.

A trip from Obigbo round-about to Afam should take around fifteen minutes maximum on a good day. Now, you’ll spend one hour or more on same road because the rivers on the road are dry. During the rainy season, it takes about two hours or more for you to get to Afam from Obigbo Express. You’ll only find few good spots throughout your drive to Afam. The only few good spot are from Izuoma to Obeama by Ogbose junction. Imagine on a one hour or more journey, you only drive for about five minutes on a smooth road, the rest of the journey is more like a roller coaster ride.

The worst of these spots include; Umusoya junction, Rail way, Izuoma, Army checkpoint, Curve and Mmirinwanyi.

Yet there is a local government chairman in the same local government. Whose only job is to carry as many women as possible while cruising on cars that he can hardly feel the bad roads in. This is what happens when leadership becomes a gift that is given to an individual in order to appease a family.

Upon the death of Sir Precious Oforji, former local government chairman of Oyigbo, his son, Gerald Oforji was made the local government chairman. Gerald may not even have been interested in the position, only that he needs to continue where his late father stopped.

Now that the rivers on the roads are dry, a trip to Obigbo market will still make you take pain relief drug after each trip.

Asides the bad road, the Nigerian police pose as double menace to the Tricycle, Bus drivers and motorcyclist on the road. From pole to pole, there is a check point. Wonder what they are checking on that road? They are there to collect fifty naira or one hundred naira depending on how they feel on a particular day.

What these disgraceful uniformed men do is that they locate the worst of spots on the road and wait for their alms collection. They go as far as giving numbers to these tricycle drivers. Without a number, your passage will definitely not end in praise. To affirm their total shamelessness, there is a checkpoint directly opposite the Afam new police station where they collect their daily esusu from drivers.

No matter how you look at it, life in Oyigbo is horrible. Did you know that car owners in Oyigbo don’t drive their cars during rainy seasons? Did you also know that several families are usually displaced during rainy season because of Erosion? Umuebele, Obigbo West and Iriebe communities leave their homes during the rainy seasons.

The only good road in Oyigbo right now, is the newly reconstructed old Aba road that goes through Obigbo West and Iriebe to Tap.

If you want to have a week long headache, take a bus from Rumuola to Obigbo Express, then enter Keke and tell the driver to drop you at the new police station in Afam. The headache may exceed a week though as a first timer.