The collapse of the Ikem bridge, which is at Ebenyi River in Isi-Uzo local government area of Enugu state, has caused untold hardship for commuters in communities within Enugu, Benue and Ebonyi states.
The hanging bridge, built by the Nigeria army shortly after the civil war, finally caved in on Friday when a Dangote truck carrying 900 bags of cement rested on it.
Many communities in Enugu, Ebonyi, Benue have been cut off including some communities in Enugu Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s home local government – Udenu.
Residents on Saturday quickly commenced putting up a makeshift bamboo bridge to trek across the river to get to their homes and neigbours.
“Its now a divided kingdom,” said Frank Nnamani, who has now been cut off from his home and his block industry across the river.
Commuters traveling from Ehamufu to Enugu now terminate their journeys at different ends of the river and swim across to continue their journey, The incident has divided the community’s Orie market into two, with one at its original market venue and a new one at Ikem junction across the Ebenyi river.
Mr. Nnamani who lamented the plight said: “Now that there is nothing to manage. The best thing is for the state government to remoblize the contractor that absconded from the site to continue work on the concrete span bridge abandoned by the past state administration.”
Another resident said “It is even good that the bridge has come to an end so that attention will be paid to the abandoned bridge contract.”
Different reactions have trailed the collapse of the bridge. Emma Nweze, a journalist said: “We should pray for Nigeria. How can such a bridge be found in a country called giant of Africa?”
N’dozie Odunze, an indigene who leaves in Lagos, suggested that the 900 bags of cement be used in constructing the bridge. Albert Ejike, another indigene of Ikem residing in Lagos blamed the Isi-Uzo LGA administration for the disaster.
Silas Okwor who lives in Germany described the collapse as ” very sad”.
An Abuja-based legal practitioner from Neke, Austin Nwaro, said: “This ugly incident really provokes the thought of asking the necessity of local government administration. Is LG as third tier of government actually necessary or better still are they doing what they are supposed to do vis-a-vis the amount of money allocated to them?”
Reacting, the Chairman of Isi-Uzo LGA, Augustine Nnamani maintained that his council has been spending money to maintain the collapsed bridge.
He noted that the council is still making monthly contributions to the state government for the Enugu-Ikem road project adding that 90 percent of the contract has been completed about two years ago.
Another resident of Ikem community said the local government has mandated the member representing Isi-Uzo state constituency at the Enugu state House of Assembly, Emeka Ogbuabor, to immediately move a motion on matter of urgent importance on the floor of the house to cause attention to the tragedy in his constituency.