From Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
Commuters who ply the Asaba- Onitsha expressway have continued to lament the daily gridlock inhibiting their movement at the bridgehead side of the entrance to the Delta State capital, Asaba.
Investigation revealed that the gridlock stretches from the bridgehead to upper Ewaka in Onitsha including Okwe Asaba junction with fierce looking policemen with fully armed guns working tirelessly with a view to ensuring free flow of traffic.
But several commuters who spoke to our correspondent alleged extortion and brutality from the policemen, adding that refusal to meet their financial demands, especially motorists often attracts severe punishment and seizure of their vehicle keys.
One of the commuters, and a motorist, Chijoke Nwanyi said:”We have been suffering in the hands of the policemen who claim to be protecting lives and property whereas they demand money from us, they ask for N100 going to Onitsha and coming back same N100 and we are appealing to the Police Commissioner in the state to come to our aid and allow us to work”, Nwanyi said.
However, in a swift reaction, the state Commissioner of Police, Adeleke Adeyinka dispelled as untrue allegation which bothered on extortion by officers and men of the Police Force, saying that any policeman found extorting motorists and commuters would be summarily dismissed from the Police Force and warned against such acts.
Meanwhile, Chief Peter Nwamuo who hailed from Oko Amakom Community in Oshimili South Local Government Area in Delta State has said that the gridlock is as a result of the deplorable road , adding that the highway had been overtaken by potholes right from the beginning of the road to Tipper junction, thereby delaying the movement of vehicles in and out of Onitsha, Anambra State.
Nwamuo added that, series of fatal accidents have occurred on the express road as a result of alleged negligence on the part of the security agents who claimed to be protecting lives and property.
He said that, when the second Niger Bridge is completed, the influx of vehicles plying the existing Niger Bridge will reduce as other vehicles will take the Oko axis of the road to link Anambra State through Ogbaru local government area.
He called on the federal government to expedite action in repairing the road so as to alleviate the suffering of commuters and motorists traveling to Onitsha and other eastern parts of the country.