Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When ex-militants took over the East/West Road

15 September 2011

Most motorists plying the East-West road straddling the Niger Delta states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom will not forget Tuesday September 6, 2011 in a hurry.

It was a day they were stranded for hours between the Bayelsa and Rivers stretch of the road in what could be described as the worst gridlock ever witnessed on the ailing road due to no fault of their theirs or their vehicles.

For about five hours vehicular movement on the usually busy road came to a chaotic standstill. But it must also be noted that commuters had on several occasions in the past suffered untold hardship on the route, especially at the peak of the rainy season when some sections are completely cut off due to erosion.

During such period, the bad spots were referred to as ‘Angola’ by the youths who capitalised on the deplorable state of the road to make brisk business by assisting vehicles to navigate through the failed and muddy portion whose owners in return appreciate their effort by way of paying for the services rendered.

But this was not to be the case on that fateful Tuesday when about 3000 aggrieved ex-militants drawn from Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states converged on the East- West road and barricaded the strategic Mbiama section of the route in Rivers in protest over what they described as the refusal of the Federal Government to include them in the amnesty programme after laying down their arms.

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