‘Akwa Ibom is wooing investors with massive roads network’
Akwa Ibom State government has commenced an emergency intervention road projects to attract investors as bedrock for industrialisation. This strategy is a deliberate remodeling of major cities in the state with network of roads by the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration. As the state celebrates 30 years of creation on September 23, its Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang in an interview with The Guardian team of Anietie Akpan (Deputy Bureau Chief, South South) and Inem Akpan-Nsoh in Uyo spoke on this strategy, saying that on completion of the 1,071 various roads projects, Akwa Ibom, will be an investors haven.
The state government is adopting infrastructural road development as a strategy to attract investors, how are going about this?
For the Ministry of Works, we have done greater number of work. We have done roads, we have commissioned some of them and some are ongoing. If you go to Oron nation, that was one of the areas I went to and I discovered that roads that supposed to have been done, were not. These are Effiat Street, Bassey Avenue, Post Office, Awana Esin, about six of such roads in Oron, some of these roads were impassable for many years. Some of the roads, His Excellency called it Emergency Intervention in Oron and those six roads were done and commissioned in the 1st anniversary of the governor in office, that was May 2016.
When we finished, we discovered that, there were still a few other roads that needed intervention and there were areas like Main Avenue ravaged by erosion where you have the Abestonet Company, so we have to step in through the emergency intervention called Second Emergency Intervention…In Oron by the time the emergency intervention 2 is completed, we would have done 14 roads with erosion control within Oron metropolis, which we rightly re-christened, re-modeling of Oron Nation.
Now if you leave Oron to the secretariat road in Udung Uko, we have also given Atabong jetty bridge in Okobo; what we have in Mbo, apart from the intervention the governor did through direct labour around where we have oil companies, the Etebi-Ewang bridge has been done to 65 percent with the new contractor. If you get to Eket, His Excellency has re-christine what he called, Re-modeling of Eket, dualizaing the road from Atabong Bridge, doing full erosion because in 2015, we had massive erosion issues in Eket. Re-modeling of Eket phase 1 involves, dualizing of Atabong, doing a massive roundabout, where we used to have Urua fion etok, create furniture pack at where people used to stay, then we take Etebi to Eket-Oron road, then take Atabong to Post Office, we will then take up Grace Bill to link up Marina, where you have Eket-Ibeno road. We are going to do Hospital road dualized which will take us back to Marina which will be the end of phase 2. We inherited Eket-Ibeno raod at about 35 percent, we took up that job, 19 kilometres dualized, and it has been completed and commissioned.
The Ibom deep Sea port has no major road linkage, what are your plans on this?
The government has been talking about Ibom Deep Sea Port. We need to have Super Highway so that when the sea port is completed, we would not have the kind of problems Lagos is having, were the port area at Tin Can Apapa is congested because of small roads. So we came up with a design of Super Highway with 8 lanes. The Super Highway we are doing 55.1 kilometres with three spurs. It will traverse Eket, part of Ibeno, Esit Eket, Mbo, and then it will come out at Uya Oron. The 8 lanes will start off from Eket-Ibeno from where we have Upenekang roundabout and will traverse through that forest on the left hand side as you approach Ibeno, where you have Esit Urua to terminate at Uya Oron , the terminal point of East-West road phase 4. Phase 5 is supposed to be from Uya Oron with a 13 kilometre bridge to Calabar. Although the Minister of Niger Delta is trying to alter the arrangement, we are discussing with him because the contract has been awarded to CCEC, which they have secured funds. The Super Highway, is going to be privatized, we will toll it even though we will have alternative routes to allow the indigenes to still have routes to their villages.
What is the package for cities that never benefited from these roads network?
The central focus of government is not just that of building roads, but to have a network of roads that will attract investors and you will not see any road built and it terminates at the middle of no way.
Hence one of the orders I had from the governor, was that every local government that did not benefit on road in previous administrations, there was need for immediate intervention. In Esit Eket now, 13.9 kilometres roads, about four roads put together, it would be flagged off this September. In Mkpat Enin, we touched the Ikot Usup road leading to Ekpat Akwa to Essene, five kilometers with a 30 meter span bridge, started and completed. In ONNA, a five kilometre was done from Mkpok to Ukat to be able to have access to the beach, that road has been completed. We have done another one kilometer road within Awa and then we opened up Awa-Ukana-Nkana road in Etinan, is ongoing. That 13 kilometres Awa-Ikot Emem-Ason-Ukat road with a spur at Ikot Ebiere, both aimed at linking up the East-West road is almost 90 percent completed. We come to Uyo, behind the state secretariat, Atan Offot, we had security issues, the roads between the Atan Offot secretariat and the mechanic village had collapse, so we pulled all these roads together from Ikot Akpan Abia to the stadium, called road ‘A’, where you have NLC Office, Noble School at the back of the State Secretariat and we came up with 7 kilometres of roads.
We went to Nsit Atai, we had to do six kilometre road, which links Nsit Atai with Ibesikpo Asutan local government area, that road is completed. We also went to Ibiono Ibom local government area, one of the first jobs the governor embarked on a 3.5kilometre road with a 60metre span bridge leading to the Paramount ruler palace, was constructed and commissioned.
We just given contracts on road projects in Ibesikpo Asutan local government area, then we went to one local government area which had no road at all, that is Uruan. We have awarded the Anua-Mbak Esshiet road, which is 13.6 kilometres, and it is at the level of 50 percent completion, that road will lead from the airport road and take you back to the beach in Uruan. Other roads in Uruan include, Ekritam-Mbiaya a four kilometer road, Mbiaya to Idu, and Mbiaya-Hachery road where you have Uyo City Polytechnic and the Planet FM station.
We went to Ikono LGA; I discovered where the past two administrations did not really do much. We now have a 6.4 kilometre road, we link that old Ikono road to the new Ikono road through the Art and Science School and the road will be commissioned during the activities marking the 30th anniversary of the state. Another local government which was not really touched by previous administrations is Oruk Anam, we have the Ikot Ekara to Ibesit Okpokoro which is 13 kilometres from Ikot Ekara , they have done the culvert and the road is now at kilometre 10 while in Mbiabet in Ini council where we have the rice farm and mill and its shares boarders with Biakpan in Cross River state and the Cameroons., the road Ini links Ini-Obotime with Arochukwu, which is about 13 kilometres and was taken up. We have done many roads in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. We have gone to open up Obot Akara. We have gone to Abak 10 and there is a road of about 19.8km that traverses between Abak, Uyo and Ikot Ekpene. So development is all over the state but our area of concentration is in areas that do not have so our next line of visit is to go to areas like Ukanafun, Ini, Ikono, Obot akara, Oruk Anam pick them up and raise them so that they can come at par.
How do you get the finance to do all these roads?
We had to devise a new strategy that brought about the idea of Alternative Project Funding Approach (APFA); so we now decided to get an investor, come in put your money and work out a MoU. So what we came out with was the APFA. We agree with you, give you the job, you use your money, do a minimum of 50 percent of the job; then as you start the work when the contract has been awarded, we issue you an Irrevocable Payment Order (ISPO). That is why we are able to do much more than our resources can carry especially in times like this. For the APFA, what this government has done is a standardized method that a kilometre of road is N320m under a normal terrain; every job is given at N320m-N340m per kilometre maximum, except in difficult terrain.
What is your success story on the dualized roads?
I will not be considered by His Excellency as a successful Commissioner for Works except I deliver on these roads: We are dualizing airport road to Okopedi a separate contract; we are braking through that forest to get to Uya Oron that is the dualized road to the west of Uyo. We are about to award through Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT)-Abak-Ekpat Akwa-Ete road, which is the North of Akwa Ibom. We are currently dualizing Ikot Oku Ikono-Etinan road, handled by Julius Berger 19kilometre and at Etinan, we have a 29 kilometre dualized road by WE construction company that takes you from Etinan to Ndon Eyo on the East West road and on the straight part, you have CCEC doing another 20 kilometres that takes you into Eket to link the re-modeling. It is on the completion of all these dualized networks to Uyo and back that will for my governor; it will be the minimum standard.
How do you quantify all these roads?
We are going to have a total of 1,071 kilometres when fully completed. For now this encompasses the completed, ongoing and just awarded. We have completed about 13 roads and most of them are the 3 to 5 kilometres because you know when you are talking about the big ones it takes a minimum of 24-36 months to complete, as I speak with you, Etinan-Ndon Eyo, except the two bridges is 19 kilometres dualized.
It’s a whole lot of many. Some of them have been there running year across year. It is running into N100s of billions of naira. We are not just building roads but networking roads in Akwa Ibom and we want to use it as a foundation to attract investors as bedrock for industrilisation. If you come into the state and at any location where you can site your factory there are good roads and Economics 101 has already established that one of the conditions to attract industry into an area is good roads network. Once you through in roads and light in a community, the community comes alive. So for me it is the bedrock of the industrilisation drive of His Excellency and dividend of democracy.
How much does the Federal Government owe Akwa Ibom on roads?
The Federal Government is owing Akwa Ibom state that is the one we inherited from the last administration certified was N140 billion out of which N68 billion has been confirmed ready for payment. I believe that if the N68 billion that is ready for payment is paid to Akwa ibom state government, His Excellency would have used it to do so much work. Our challenge is funding. If God decides to bless His Excellency and the state like He has done before which I hope he will do again, and we have the kind of resources that were previously available, I can bet my chest that when His Excellency the Governor leaves office in 2023, Akwa Ibom will be a different place that the indigenes will be so proud of because the governor is proactive, focused and predetermined to get result.