The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (ONICCIMA) would once again like to draw the attention of the Federal authorities, and the security agencies, as well as the Governors of Anambra and Delta States in particular to the menace of the Niger Bridge gridlock which to a very large extent emanates from the activities of some law-enforcement agents on both ends of the bridge.
Recall that exactly two years ago, that was on December 16, 2020, the immediate Past President of ONICCIMA, Pharm Sir Chris Ukachukwu, held a press conference where he among other things, addressed this issue. The problem seemed to have abated for a while but has come back in recent times with full force.
Some law enforcement agents under the guise of “security concerns” set up roadblocks, especially at the Asaba end of the bridge and so many locations in the South East of Nigeria, and these results in unnecessary traffic gridlocks with the consequent economic hardship and losses to the people. As of the last count, there exist at least three different squads of ill-mannered law enforcement agents motorists encounter while approaching the Niger bridge from Asaba and while also exiting the bridge at the same Asaba axis.
These are nothing more than mere extortion teams that forcefully collect “toll fees” mostly from commercial vehicles as well as Trucks and Trailers and delay traffic flow across the bridge as a result of this. At the Onitsha end of the bridge, the story is very much the same with a little twist. The law enforcement agents make use of civilian “toll collectors” while they “assist” by slowing down vehicles so that these civilian collaborators can go to work. It is indeed an intricate web that needs careful collaboration by the Governors mentioned to dismantle and free up traffic flow across that bridge. In addition, motorists at the Onitsha end have to contend with the menace of multiple groups of “revenue collection” agents. A journey across the bridge from either end which in normal circumstances would not exceed 10 minutes now has commuters stranded for hours.
In the overriding interest of the socio-economic well-being of the citizens of both Anambra and Delta States and by extension, the entire Nigerian society, the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce hereby demands as follows:
1. The dismantling of all roadblocks (Day or Night) set up on both ends of the bridge.
2. Except for the FRSC and state/local/voluntary traffic controllers, all Security agents that obstruct the smooth flow of vehicular traffic should be removed from both ends/approaches to the bridge.
3. The governments of both states should immediately set up a monitoring committee tasked with ensuring that these recurring problems are permanently solved not just for the yuletide but subsequently.
4. The activities of the security personnel should be limited to surveillance and monitoring to ensure free flow of traffic instead of creating bottlenecks all over the South East, and particularly at both ends of that Niger Bridge, especially during this Christmas and New Year period of festivities with heavy traffic.
Chief Sir Kevin U. Obieri FCA, FCTI, President