Insurmountable Road Blocks Along Imo Highways

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Major roads or public highways are one of the various ways of social, economic, commercial or human interaction of communication essential for the smooth running and well-being of any society, hence safe and very good roads or highways are always protected by governments anywhere.

If the reader of this editorial commentary or opinion, has ever been privileged to traverse or make road trips along the major highways that criss-cross the Northern States that make up the Northern Region of this country and those in the Southern states especially those located in the South East Region, which include the landlocked Imo State, he will be confronted with such harrowing experiences that will force him to ask the question, do we belong to one country called Nigeria? Inspite of the numerous security challenges in the Northern states posed by the presence of insurgents, armed bandits, kidnappers, rapists, cattle rustlers and so on, the highways in this zone do not witness or experience the highly required security/police road blocks/checkpoints, as seen all over the federal roads and major highways located in the South East with emphasis on Imo State, the highway are infested with unwarranted numerous security check points and unapproved road blocks, as if to show that every commuter in this axis is either a terrorist, gangster or suspect, yet all they do is, toll/roja collection or forceful extortion of money from motorists.

Inspite of several previous pronouncements and orders from the police headquarters in Abuja, that road blocks and checkpoints should be dismantled, the experiences for residents of Imo State and travelers in and out of the state are nothing to write home about, as every ten (10) kilometer stretch of public roads, highways and even township roads or streets are roadblocks or common-flagged checkpoint established not to checkmate any sort of crime or insurgency but to extort money from commuters and harass travelers at times holding vehicle passengers hostage.

There are several heavily guarded roadblocks on the five major entries into the capital city of Owerri, as if the state is under siege. If it is not the order of the Inspector General of Police under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police, why do we have at least ten (10) road blocks on the following roads, Owerri-Okigwe, Owerri-Umuahia, Owerri-Aba, Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Onitsha roads, all of which are federal highways. The experiences of travelers on these named roads are better imagined than told. Bandits, militants, cultists and miscreants can easily pay to pass these routes but law abiding travelers have harrowing tales of woes to tell. No wonder cattle herdsmen keep straying into the state despite their banishment.

Same goes for most inter-state roads linking villages and communities and worst still in the intra-city roads and streets of Owerri, the state capital. Every law abiding citizen understands and appreciates the presence and importance of security on our roads meant to provide safety and security but not as presently obtained as a source of discomfort to the citizenry. What is the necessity of road blocks on internal roads of our major cities or Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe, if not to collect tolls or shoot at sight anyone who refuses to pay, whereas well known rapists, kidnappers, militants and cultists easily pass through these road blocks daily albeit undetected or un-arrested. 

We appeal to security personnel in this state to dismantle these numerous road blocks that hamper the socio-economic growth of the people. They are free to operate, stop and check as approved by the federal authorities.

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