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June 20, 2018

Relocate Imo Conference Centre – Imo Govt told

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For the second time in two months, Owerri literally came to a halt. Residents, commuters and motorists alike gnashed their teeth and bit their tongue in frustration, following long hours of avoidable traffic jam caused by the activities going on at the Imo International Conference Centre (IICC).

It is now clear that centre located on the busy Assumpta Avenue ‘Bank Road’, at the erstwhile Imo Hotels, is a bad idea. Although the centre is one of the glories of Imo-State and achievements of this Government, it brings more suffering than satisfaction to the masses each time it is being used to host a major event.

‘I trekked from Wetheral road to where we live at World Bank. It took me nearly three hours, my feet are so sore and hurt badly. I couldn’t get any keke going in that direction,’ said a 22 year-old student of Imo-State University who would not give his name but explained that he went to town to recharge his cable TV.

A former director in the ministry coming from a meeting in town and going home to Irete also felt frustrated in the traffic.

‘I was stuck in my car for five hours. Just imagine, after a hard day, I thought I was going home to shower and take a rest only to meet the nightmare. The whole of the road from Assumpta Avenue to Orlu road was blocked up and we just sat there waiting. I got to Irete by 10 p.m. from Owerri and this is a journey that would have taken me less than half an hour,’ she complained.

Several others cried out and complained about the traffic jam. It was not the usual police checks or the manholes opening up indiscriminately on newly paved roads near the vicinity that were causing the delay and frustration. Instead, it was the wedding reception of the Governor’s daughter being held at the IICC.

Prior to the wedding, it was the week-long national conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) held at the centre that grounded Owerri. Traffic came to a halt because the premises of the IICC was insufficient to hold the number of vehicles coming in for the big events and Government did not make an alternative parking available.

The only option has been to pack on the road and block up as much space as possible, unmindful of the suffering and sadness it causes people.

‘If the NBA conference was Government’s way of testing the waters, it evidently saw how rough and tough it was for the commuters. Government should not have allowed a repeat. Rather than put the people through another hell, the Governor could have found alternative parking for his guests or simply held the wedding at the Concord Hotel he said he renovated,’ Chukwuemeka Obi, a civil servant told our reporter.

Some motorists sat in their cars and dozed off from tiredness while others crawled to their homes in pain and disappointment. Commuters trekked for hours to get to their destination all because of a wedding that could have been held outside the heart of the city.

‘If this is a listening Government let them do something about the IICC because it is causing more harm than good. In fact, the ICC should be relocated outside the city and the place used as the new home for the state library which Government unwisely moved out of its former place,’ a lecturer who refused to give his name said.


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