THE absence of functional streetlights on the nearly two kilometer stretch of the second bridge on the River Niger in Anambra State, has been condemned as a disservice to motorists and travellers coming into the South-East, especially during this period.
According to a report by PUNCH Newspaper, the streetlights, from the Asaba, Delta State end of the road to Idemili, Anambra State, last functioned on May 23, 2023, the day the bridge was commissioned.
Users of the road lamented that the non functional streetlights coupled with the absence of security “makes it very dangerous driving on the road at night.”
At the inauguration, the government promised that the bridge would be well-illuminated with adequate security surveillance, including CCTV cameras.
Upon completion, the 1.7 kilometer bridge was supposed to ease traffic on the old Niger Bridge, improve road safety, and create greater opportunities for local residents by advancing the commercial viability of the immediate community.
But, according to motorists, plying the road without the streetlights makes them vulnerable in the hands of hoodlums, who they said always emerged from the bushes at night.
The Chairman, Greater Tippers Association of Anambra, Ebuka Unaekwe, revealed that their drivers were regularly attacked while driving on the bridge at night.
He said, “We have not been using that bridge at night due to attacks by hoodlums. Visibility is poor at night, and on several occasions, hoodlums have emerged from the surrounding bushes to attack people.
“The streetlights only worked on the night it was inaugurated and after then, it has not worked. Many drivers, especially heavy duty vehicles, now prefer the the old Niger Bridge at night.
A regular user of the road, Justina Nkwo, said, “since the streetlights suddenly became non-functional, I am scared of driving at night on the bridge.”
The Publicity Secretary of the South-East Drivers Union, Uzor Okonkwo, appealed to the Federal Government “to fix the streetlights as the bridge is not optimally used due to the non-functional lights and inadequate security.
“In advanced countries, such a massive bridge should have CCTV cameras installed around it.”
A community leader in one of the communities along the bridge, Chief Ifeanyi Awunrum, said the situation bordered on poor maintenance culture and absence of generators to power the streetlights.
A staff of the Ministry of Works, who craved anonymity, said, “We those lights are not solar-powered lights, and because of the electricity challenges, they have remained non-functional.”