How Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was christened the road master was easy to decipher for the visiting journalists within hours of arrival at Asaba.
Taking a team of visiting journalists on a tour of education, health and other projects commissioned by the Okowa administration, the governor’s Chief Strategist, Dr Festus Okubor, threw the media men into a spin when he threw a parable a few hours after they had gone round.
“What significant thing can you people tell me of your experience since we have been going round?”
While some noted the Asaba Specialist Hospital, others pointed at the Model Technical College, Asaba with its state of the art infrastructure, yet others pointed at the Dennis Osadaebey University, Asaba.
Dr Okubor while admitting the significance of the projects, amazed the journalists with the fact that they had not experienced a single pothole in their journey around Asaba.
Indeed, the efforts of the Okowa administration have indeed earned the medical doctor turned politician the moniker of Road Master.
For a state reputed as having the highest number of urban towns in the country, the feat was not an easy task.
As at September 2022, the Okowa administration had completed 1,932.14 kilometers of roads across the state, illustratively a distance between Lagos to Sokoto and back.
Beyond Asaba, many of the other major towns including Ughelli, Agbor, Owa Oyibu, Warri, Sapele, Ozoro and many other urban towns in the state have had a touch of the impact of the road master.
However, one project that is ongoing and which the government has advanced to a considerable level of progress is the Asaba – Ughelli Express Way. Under the Okowa administration the construction of the road has made considerable progress with the positive impact of the road a major beacon for socio-economic progress of the state.
The road project is one which acts as a unifier connecting the three senatorial districts in the state.
Speaking on the impact of the project, Dr Okubor said that the road when completed the road would enable the state to tap from the potentials of the Warri Port as it would draw the state into the advantages that the Warri and other ports offer.
He said: “This road is a major commercial necessity, because with it the Federal Government having done the Ughelli-Patani, Warri-Patani-Port Harcourt Road, we can then leverage to get the Port in Warri busy because most of the goods arriving Lagos anyway are headed for Onitsha. So, for us, it is ambush marketing for this road to be good enough to carry containers without fear of their falling over. That will be a major incentive for them to destine their goods for Warri Port.
“With this road, you can go from Oghara to Benin to Warri on a dualised road like this, which is a federal road and then go from Warri to Ughelli on a road like this and then come from Ughelli to Asaba on a road like this; this gives us a near complete ring road around the state. Then, as you go you will see a lot of roads that are constructed, spurring out of this road to link up the villages and local governments of the state.”
Beyond the roads, the Okowa administration has also been able to connect distinct parts of the state together through major bridges linking otherwise disconnected sections of the state.
Besides the landmark Koka Flyover and Interchange in Asaba that has transformed the entry point into the state capital, other bridges include the Ovwor/Effurun-Otor Bridge in Ugheli South Local Government Area, Oha/Orerokpe/Oviore Bridge in Okpe council and the Agbarho/Orherhe Bridge.
Other bridges constructed by the Okowa administration include the Over Rail crossing at Agbor, Ovwor/Effurun-Otor bridge, Agbarho/Orherhe Bridge, Oha/Orerokpe Bridge, two pedestrian bridges in Asaba.
Also constructed were the Ayakoromo Bridge across Forcados River, five trans-Warri project bridges, Ogwashi-Uku Twin Bridges across Obo River, Orere Bridge, Obiaruku Bridge, Isheagu Bridge, Two Beneku Bridges, Ibusa Junction (Koka) Flyover along the Asaba/Benin Expressway in Asaba, Ovrode/Ofagbe Bridge and Ewulu/Isheagu Bridge
When the visiting journalists arrived the Ewu – Orere Bridge site, the Project Manager, Frank Uwuseba, asked of the significance of the project said that when completed that the people’s long dependence on canoe in ferrying their goods across to one another would come to an end besides giving them a direct link to Bomadi communities.
“Before now, the villages from either divides always use canoes to access neighbouring communities. Those with motorcycles are also ferried across, but as you can see, the owners of these cars parked here had to leave them behind. But, by the time the bridge is up for use, cars and their owners would enjoy easy passage,” Uwaseba said.
Also speaking on the significance of the bridges being built by the Okowa to connect the citizenry, the project manager of the bridge at Ovwor, said:
“There are a number of communities that this bridge links and usually before now, if those people have to go to Ughelli, they either go through and get to Beta Glass and move to Ughelli, then to Ovwor to Ughelli. So, it is a bridge that enhances commercial activities of both Effurun-Otor and the environs and Ovwor.”