July 20, 2024

Collapse of Edo Infrastructure: Amufi-Okpagha Road Disaster as the Signpost of a Failed Government

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Washed road and drainage system of Amufi-Okpagha Road, near Benin City

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By Victor Ofure Osehobo

When leaders fail in their duties, especially in managing public resources and infrastructure projects, it is not just a matter of governance but a betrayal of public trust. Such is the case with Mr. Ethan Uzamere, the Edo State Commissioner for Roads and Bridges, and his club of incompetent contractors, whose oversight of the Amufi-Okpagha road and culvert project has turned into an emblem of mismanagement, negligence, and failure of the outgoing PDP government.

Since 2021, the Amufi-Okpagha road project has been languishing under construction, marred by delays, poor planning, and, this week, an unpardonable collapse. The initial decision by the outgoing PDP government to bypass established bidding processes and opt for direct labor was mistake number one. By ignoring competent local contractors in Edo State and importing them from elsewhere, the government was set for an incompetent job.

Subsequently, when the deficiencies in direct labor became glaring, the same government belatedly resorted to engaging a contractor from neighboring states through its secretive bidding process. The move, rather than rectifying the situation, exacerbated it. The favored contractor, without a record of performance except being close to the powers that be, despite being well-paid, failed to deliver the road project to acceptable quality, leading to its collapse.

The responsibility for overseeing such a catastrophe falls squarely on Mr. Ethan Uzamere, as the Commissioner tasked with Roads and Bridges. His role in supervising the contractor and ensuring adherence to quality standards has, to say the least, been egregiously mishandled. Instead of safeguarding public funds and ensuring efficient project delivery, Mr. Uzamere’s poor decisions have now cost the state a huge loss.

The episode is an indictment of the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration. For a regime that touts itself as a paragon of effective governance, the road is a sad commentary. People on the Amufi-Okpagha road will never forgive the government. The development reflects the trademark pattern of malpractice and mismanagement, where projects are hastily awarded to obscure contractors for ulterior motives by the government. Very recently, these projects are to fund the governorship campaign of the PDP candidate.

The implications of a monumental project failure like the Amufi-Okpagha extend beyond mere financial loss. They confirm a clueless government and the cynicism among the populace. It once again highlights the fact that Edo State deserves leadership that prioritizes competence and accountability, qualities that have been conspicuously absent in Mr. Obaseki’s tenure.

Mr. Ethan Uzamere’s resignation must not just be a symbolic gesture but a necessary step towards holding accountable those who betray the public trust. Moreover, getting the contractor to face prosecution for its role in overseeing the collapsed Amufi-Okpagha road project is essential to uphold the rule of law and deter future instances of such sleaze.

Looking ahead, Edo State has hope that a better government is coming. Senator Monday Okpebholo, the APC governorship candidate, is coming to offer a vision of renewal and accountability. His commitment to restoring integrity in governance and revitalizing infrastructure projects resonates with the aspirations of Edo people. The September 21, 2024 elections present us with the opportunity to elect him as a governor who will prioritize the interests of the people over personal gain and partisan politics.

Read Also: Edo People Should Show More Interest on How They’re Governed!

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