The collapse of a section of the East-West Road in Eleme in Rivers State has paralysed investments estimated at more than $50 billion in the Eleme-Onne axis of the industrial hub of the state.
That section of the road had been virtually impassable for about two years but it became a real logistic nightmare last week following the collapse of the bridge that allows access to the two petroleum refineries in Eleme, the Onne Port complex, including Onne Free Zone; the Indorama/Eleme Petro-chemical Plant, Notore Petro-Chemical Industries and many businesses within the corridor.
Head of Operations and Technical Services at the Oil and Gas Free Zones (OGFZA), which is the regulator of the Onne Free Zone, Adekunle Ajayi said businesses cut off by the collapse of the East-West Road in Eleme are collectively worth more than $50 billion.
Those businesses include Intels, which is the Onne Free Zone developer, the West African Container Terminal (WACT), Brawal Shipping Company, all the IOCs represented in the free zone.
Among government establishments that are equally cut off by the collapsed road are OGFZA, the NPA, Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Naval College, and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Besides these investments, there are lots of sundry businesses and government establishments along the corridor up to Ogoni that are also no longer accessible from Port Harcourt because of the failure of the road.
Commenting on the condition of the road, the Managing Director of OGFZA, Umana Okon Umana, said apart from its adverse impact on existing businesses in the axis, the logistic crisis caused by the failed section of the road constitutes a serious deterrence to foreign direct investment which the Federal Government has been campaigning for. “No foreign investor wants to stake his money where he cannot have access to,” Umana said.
The OGFZA chief said he has drawn the attention of the Minister of the Niger Delta and the managing director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the condition of the road, commending the NDDC for its intervention. Umana however added that what is needed is a holistic and permanent solution to the bad state of the road.
The terrible condition of the road attracted the attention of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike in 2016, who met with investors and government establishments within the axis. On the prompting of the state governor, the investors and the Rivers State Government contributed N3 billion to assist in the repair of the failed section of the road, which measures about seven kilometres. A member of the committee that was set up to implement the intervention on the road from the N3 billion collections said the money was disbursed to RCC to carry out repairs of the road.
However, less than two years after, the road has become impassable again. The East-West Road is a Federal Government trunk ‘A’ road, intended to link the South-South, Southeast and Western parts of the country together.