Motorists plying the Benin-Auchi-Okene Expressway have urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the busy highway.
Some of the motorists told the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday that the call became necessary owing to the situation of the road.
The motorists, who decried the loss of man-hour and human lives on the road linking the Southern and Northern parts of the country, said the highway had totally collapsed due to years of neglect.
NAN observed that motorists have completely abandoned the road and have resorted to taking longer alternative routes to connect from Edo Central to the Northern part of the state and the Northern part of the country.
The motorists stressed that if nothing was done to urgently address the situation, the alternative routes, which are also not in good condition, may soon become unmotorable.
A motorist, Maxwel Idigie, who expressed concern, said drivers had no option other than to bear untold hardship to get to their destinations via the highway.
Idigie said: “We have never at any time had to experience a situation like this on the route.
“We complained when it was not even as bad as it is now, but as we speak, nobody uses that route again.
“For some time now, we have been taking longer routes to cut off those roads that have totally collapsed.
“Those going to Ekpoma, Auchi or North of the county go through Agbor Road to connect to Ugoneki and Ujogba and then to the road at Irrua in Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo.”
According to Idigie, same goes for motorists going to Sabongidda Ora, Afuze and Akoko-Edo that now link the communities through Ifon in Ondo State.
He added: “It will interest you to know also that those going to Abuja also connect Okene through Igarra and Ososo in Akoko-Edo.
“This long and tortuous journey has not only greatly affected our income, but also other associated inconveniences.”
Also, Abel Osageduwa, a motorist, said the alternative routes were wearing off owing to its use by articulated vehicles that were not designed for the road.
Osageduwa, therefore, appealed to the government to declare a state of emergency on the Benin-Auchi-Okene Expressway.
He said the declaration would pave the way for a solution to the problem.
He said: “Last Friday, we spent over three hours on a particular spot near Ujogba because articulated vehicles that have rendered the road bad got stuck on the bad spot on that alternative route.
“Friday was another trying time for us on that route.
“This would not have been if the major road was in order.
“The Ujogba road, which was constructed by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s government was not meant for heavy duty vehicles.”
Another motorist, Andrew Momodu, appealed to the government to fix the highway, saying the situation was compelling motorists to increase transport fare.
Momodu said: “We do not spend more now only on fuel, but also on the maintenance of our vehicles and it is a pity that commuters are the ones bearing the burden.”
A commuter, who simply identified herself as Nana, said the cost of transportation to Auchi was hiked to N1,500 from N1,000 on Friday owing to traffic congestion that was experienced on the alternative route.
NAN reports that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and members of the state legislature had recently undertaken separate assessment tours of the Benin-Auchi-Okene Expressway.
They all condemned the state of the road and called on the Federal Government to urgently fix it.
It will be recalled also that Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, had said remedial work on the highway would begin as soon as the rains subsided.