Re­lief for Com­muters in C’River

The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of sec­tions of the Cal­abar-Ikom-Ogoja high­way has brought great re­lief to mo­torists and traders in Cross State, Bassey Inyang writes

THISDAY - - FEATURES -

Early this year, Min­is­ter of Power, Works and Hous­ing; Ba­batunde Raji Fashola, em­barked on a na­tion­wide-tour of fed­eral roads in coun­try. On Fe­bru­ary 16, the min­is­ter was in Cross River State where he took a com­pre­hen­sive tour of the Cal­abar-IkomO­goja fed­eral high­way, and Cal­abar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene fed­eral high­way.

At the time of the min­is­ter’s visit, the sec­tions of the roads were in very ter­ri­ble state.

On the Cal­abar-Ikom-Ogoja Road, the stretch from Uyanga to Adim, and in­deed the entire Bi­ase axis, and Iyamoy­ong, was in its most de­plorable state, and con­sti­tuted a com­plete night­mare to mo­torists who plied the road.

In some in­stances, trans­porters trav­el­ling along the Cal­abar-Ikom-Ogoja Road spent days at the bad spots for days, with its at­ten­dant eco­nomic con­se­quences.

Be­ing a ma­jor route for the evac­u­a­tion of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, es­pe­cially farm pro­duce, and cat­tle to the South­ern parts of Cross River State, Akwa Ibom State, and some states in the South-south re­gion, the losses suf­fered by traders whenever the trucks con­vey­ing their cargo to the mar­kets fell at the bad spots of the road can only be imag­ined.

How­ever, when Fashola vis­ited in Fe­bru­ary, he saw the sit­u­a­tion, and promised that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will ex­pe­dite ac­tion to en­sure that roads are re­ha­bil­i­tated.

Dur­ing the visit, the min­is­ter had promised that the in­ter­ven­tion would be a kind of pain man­age­ment so­lu­tion that was meant to ease the trauma of road users dur­ing the rainy sea­son.

He promised that after the im­me­di­ate in­ter­ven­tion project, the road would be ex­panded in the long run.

Be­fore tour­ing fed­eral roads in the state, Fashola had paid a cour­tesy call to the state gov­er­nor Pro­fes­sor Ben Ayade who was rep­re­sented by the state deputy gov­er­nor, Pro­fes­sor Ivara Esu.

Then, the min­is­ter told the state au­thor­i­ties that the in­spec­tion was geared to­wards the even­tual re­con­struc­tion of roads in ful­fill­ment of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fed­eral bud­get.

Also the Fed­eral Controller of Works in Cross River State, Chin­woba Ag­bana, who was part of Fashola’s en­tourage, dis­closed that four project con­trac­tors had been mo­bilised to site across the state for var­i­ous road projects, par­tic­u­larly, the Cal­abar-Ikom-Ogoja-Obudu axis.

Barely four months after Fashola made the prom­ise that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would em­bark on emer­gency main­te­nance, the sit­u­a­tion of the road is now dif­fer­ent from what it was hitherto.

The road had been sub­jected to the ben­e­fits of emer­gency in­ter­ven­tion han­dled by one of the fore­most con­struc­tion com­pa­nies in the area, Ser­mat­ech Nige­ria Lim­ited.

Com­ment­ing on the re­cent re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of sec­tions of the road, Project Man­ager of Ser­mat­ech, Mr. Des­mond Ewa, said when the min­is­ter vis­ited in Fe­bru­ary, fund­ing was the ma­jor prob­lem ham­per­ing progress on the spoilt sec­tions of the road.

Ewa said that de­spite the chal­lenge, the com­pany saw the se­ri­ous­ness of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to­wards fix­ing the road, hence it ob­tained credit fa­cil­ity from the bank to re­ha­bil­i­tate sec­tions of the road al­lo­cated to it.

Ewa said given the rainy sea­son, fund­ing was still a chal­lenge as there was a limit to what the com­pany can get from the bank, adding that if funds were re­leased by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment it will help the com­pany greatly to ex­e­cute the project.

“The points of in­ter­ven­tion are be­tween Uyanga to Okomita (1.25km), Okomita to Akpet (925 me­tres), Akpet, Adim and Iyamoy­ong (1.4 km).

“The in­clement weather has not favoured us be­cause the project was not awarded on time. You know too that in emer­gency con­tract there is no mo­bil­i­sa­tion, so, we are work­ing with the loans that we se­cured from

On the Cal­abar-IkomO­goja Road, the stretch from Uyanga to Adim, and in­deed the entire Bi­ase axis, and Iyamoy­ong, was in its most de­plorable state, and con­sti­tuted a com­plete night­mare to mo­torists who plied the road. In some in­stances, trans­porters trav­el­ling along the Cal­abar-Ikom-Ogoja Road spent days at the bad spots for days, with its at­ten­dant eco­nomic con­se­quences

the banks.

“We are ap­peal­ing to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to re­lease our funds as soon as we are round­ing up so that we can pay back our cred­i­tors. At the mo­ment, we have as­phalted the Uyanga bad stretch of the road,” Ewa said.

But the ef­forts put in by Ser­mat­ech ap­pear to have yielded the re­quired re­sult, at least for now, fol­low­ing the fix­ing of most of the bad stretches on the fed­eral high­way which links the South-south re­gion di­rectly with the North­ern part of Nige­ria through Benue State.

Com­ments from some of the mo­torists ply­ing the Cal­abar-Ikom-Ogoja Road in­di­cate that in­deed much has im­proved, and the long years of suf­fer­ing they en­coun­tered be­fore the in­ter­ven­tion has been ad­dressed.

A commercial bus driver, who plies the Cal­abar-Ikom Road reg­u­larly, Mr. An­drew Inok, said the in­ter­ven­tion was timely as road users would have found it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult ply­ing the road dur­ing the rainy sea­son.

Inok specif­i­cally noted that sev­eral tankers used to be stranded for days in the Adim axis be­cause the road be­came im­pass­able.

“This in­ter­ven­tion by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is a wel­comed devel­op­ment. I re­call how the road was be­fore the in­ter­ven­tion. At some points, trucks and lor­ries could no longer ac­cess the road while smaller ve­hi­cles took other longer routes to get to their des­ti­na­tions,” Inok said.

An­other road user, Udeme Bassey, who com­mended the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the road, es­pe­cially sec­tions within Akamkpa, and Bi­ase Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Ar­eas, how­ever, stated that it was nec­es­sary for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene in two gully ero­sion spots at the Oduk­pani, and Akpet axis that is threat­en­ing to di­vide the road, and cut off the south­ern part of the road from the rest.

“Th­ese two crit­i­cal ero­sion spots might soon cut off Cal­abar from the rest of the coun­try,” he said.

A trader who is a reg­u­lar user of the road, Madam Mary Okon, said the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the road has brought suc­cour to traders who go to the ru­ral mar­kets to buy garri, and other food pro­duce to Cal­abar in par­tic­u­lar.

“Be­fore when we go to buy from farm­ers in the bush, we find it very hard to bring our garri, yams, plan­tain, banana and others to Mar­ian Mar­ket, and Watt Mar­ket, be­cause the road was not good. Some days we will sleep on the roads and what we buy will spoil be­cause we can­not get to Cal­abar early to sell in the mar­ket. We have lost money on this road be­fore, but we thank gov­ern­ment for do­ing us well by re­pair­ing this road. God will bless them to do more for us,” Okon, who said she sells in the

This in­ter­ven­tion by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is a wel­comed devel­op­ment. I re­call how the road was be­fore the in­ter­ven­tion. At some points, trucks and lor­ries could no longer ac­cess the road while smaller ve­hi­cles took other longer routes to get to their des­ti­na­tions

Com­pleted sec­tion of the re­ha­bil­i­tated road

Traf­fic grid­lock at a bad sec­tion at Adim be­fore the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion

Ve­hi­cles strug­gling to pass a bad spot at Bi­ase along Cal­abar -Ikom high­way

Fashola...a prom­ise keeper

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.