By Our Reporter
Leader of a farmer group in Rivers State, Mr Godwin Akandu, has decried deplorable condition of Rivers/Imo interstate roads, and attributed poor road conditions to food shortage and hike in prices of staple food items.
Akandu, who is the President, Etche Cooperative Union in Rivers State, told reporters in Port Harcourt there could be hike in basic foods due to the bad road.
He said that part of the Port Harcourt/Owerri road which is also a major link between Etche Local Government Area and Port Harcourt metropolis is currently in a very deplorable condition and has become flooded too.
According to him, the poor road condition has exposed farmers in the area to suffer huge damage and loss on perishable farm produce.
“It is sad to note that right from Chokocho bridge to our boundary with Imo State at Igbodo road in Etche local government area, has become impassable.
“Our farmers are losing their farm produce due to lack of access roads and this is not a good signal especially when we are barely struggling towards ensuring food sufficiency.
“Indeed, the deplorable condition of the road is affecting the entire state because Etche also known as the Food Basket of Rivers State virtually undertakes a huge percentage in the food supply chain.
“Prices of staple food stuff have also been tremendously affected, for example a basin of garri that was sold for N2,500, now sells for N5,000. This is a clear indication that whatever affects any sector of the agriculture value chain affects the entire system,” he added.
Akandu therefore, urged the federal government to prioritize the Port Harcourt-Owerri road construction to ease the sufferings of residents of the area.
“I understand this is a federal road, but my worry is how long enough we could be waiting for the federal government to possibly come to our rescue.
“On behalf of the Etche farmers whom the deplorable condition of the road is affecting the most, we appeal to the Federal and State governments to declare a state of emergency on the Chokocho/Okehi/Eketa, Igbodo/OKpala roads by ensuring an immediate rehabilitation to save the situation,” Akandu said.
The farmer also specifically urged the state government to consider the rehabilitation of other major internal roads within the Etche council citing the Umuechem/Egwi, Afara/Mba/Umuaturu, Umujim/Umuokom, Ndashi roads amongst others.
He also pleaded with the state government to ensure that the contractor handling the construction of the Okehi General Hospital is mobilized back on site.
He said that the hospital when completed would bring medical care closer and accessible to the farmers and rural residents.