By Austine Akaeze/Rita Waive/Celestine Ekrake
In recent times, several police and correctional facilities suffered attacks in the different parts of the country, especially in the South East and isolated cases in the South-South. To curtail such attacks, preventive measures were instituted by blocking roads leading to such security facilities. Here in Delta State, such facilities include the headquarters of the state police command along Okpanam Road, Asaba, A Division along Nnebisi Road, Asaba, and Nigeria Correctional Centre, along Okere, Warri, among others.
The blockades, where a dual carriage exist, have forced motorist to maintain one carriage while for single lane roads, such as that of the GRA Police Station, it is a case of complete blockade.
The situation, motorists, business owners and residents generally believe, have subjected them to untold hardship, ranging from frequent gridlock to accidents and loss of businesses and customers.
Our correspondents went to town and spoke with a cross section of members of the public, including the police authorities, to know if the situation will be reviewed to assuage the pains of the people or remain blocked indefinitely
Mr Israel Ikeawuba, a commercial tricycle operator (keke driver), reasoned that the partial closure of roads had not been easy on keke drivers, saying that it had led to unnecessary hold ups, loss of passengers and sometimes, fight among keke drivers.
He stated that some drivers had sustained injuries in the process, and in his opinion, argued that all could have been avoided if the roads were free and not partially closed by the police.
A hair stylist, who operate along Okpanam Road, close to the police headquarters, Mrs Ijeoma Nwanze lamented the loss of patronage her business had suffered as a result of the partial road closure.
According to her, the security measures by the police had affected her business drastically, stating that even those that manage to find their way to her shop, were being questioned and constantly harassed by the police.
This situation, she claimed, had made her customers to stop coming to her shop, and as a consequence, caused her severe economic hardship, adding that she had no other source of livelihood, and passionately called for a review of the blockade to make way for free flow of traffic.
Miss Maureen Ogboi, pedestrian, who works in one of the officed along Cabinet Road, off Okpanam Road, complained that the road blockade had caused her a lot of discomfort.
“Among them is the long period it will take me to cross the road, since traffic have been diverted to only one side of the road.
“Also, the blockade has made me to walk distances I used to enter keke to. Again, when I’m sent by her office to buy office need, I have to carry the purchase on my head since the side of the road leading to her office has been blocked, and besides, kekes are no longer allowed to operate along the Cabinet Office Road.
“The blockade should be lifted,” she concluded.
A motorist, Mrs Rosemary Nkeonyelo, said that the blockade had caused her a measure of stress, explaining that she was always looking for parking space for her vehicle whenever she had business to attend to in the side of the road that was blocked.
She said the blockade had force to be packing her car very far from the exact place she was going to and then had to walk back, saying that it was a lot of discomfort to her, and called for a review, arguing that such security measures were not meant to be permanent.
For Mr Austine Ememano, motorist, the road blockades should be discontinued with immediate effect, saying, ‘what will be will be’, even if the road was closed permanently.
Mr Nasiri Mohammed, a keke driver, did not see anything wrong in the measure, saying it was simply a security measure and called on all to support and bear with it while it lasts.
Another respondent, Mr Kelvin Samuel, a business man, who sells used foot wares in the open space of the shopping mall besides the Delta State Police Command Headquarters, Okpanam Road said that he had not suffered any loss of income or patronage as a result of the road blockade, saying that most of his customers were police officers.
An Asistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Edna Bassey, and Assistant Police Public Relations Officer (APPRO), Delta State Police Command, reiterated that the partial closure of the road was simply a security measure.
When asked whether the measure would be temporary or permanent, Bassey said that she was not in position to speak on the issue, and directed out team to her boss who she said was in a better position to address the question.
Her boss, Edafe Bright was not on seat as at the time the team called and called made by correspondents to hear from him were neither picked nor returned.