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Crisis looms in Akwa Ibom over abandoned road project, government appeals for calm

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Crisis looms in Akwa Ibom State as angry youths in six local government areas have threatened to blockade the 55.1 km Superhighway to protest sits abandonment.

They said that the measure was to force the government to resume work on the project. The 55.1 km superhighway with three spurs, which was initiated by Governor Udom Emmanuel, spanned through Ibeno, Eket, Esit Eket , Mbo and Urue Offong Oruko local government areas of the state.

It was, however, gathered that the project was awarded by the state government to Ebla Construction Limited under Public-Private Partnership ( PPP) arrangement but the vendor allegedly abandoned the site after spending N700 million without the state government providing its contributory counterpart funds.

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The Youth chairman of Ibeno, Mr Kingsley Udoh, however, addressed journalists who visited the project site.He said that soon the youths of the affected communities would mobilise for the protest to remind the governor about the superhighway project.

His words: “If the government does not complete this project, we will protest. When the Superhighway project was awarded to our area, We were happy. Right now we are not happy. Ibeno people are not happy especially the youths. We are very, very angry. We are feeling bad.

“Presently, the Superhighway is abandoned. Please we are sad, take the message to the governor. We are not happy anymore.

“When we come out from the community to this junction and we turn our eyes to see that the job is abandoned we feel sad”.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Works Mr. Ephraim Inyangeyen has blamed the Federal government for the delay in the completion of the 12-lane Ibom Super Highway as it failed to approve the construction of Ibom Deep Seaport for the state. He disclosed this in Uyo, on Tuesday while reacting to claims by the irate youths from the host communities that the project, which was flagged off in 2017, had been abandoned since 2018.

He explained that the state government decided to slow down after 15 out of 55.1 kilometers of the road had been done when it observed the refusal of Federal Government to give approval for the construction of the Ibom Deep Seaport as the road was initiated for the seaport operations and the proposed Ibom Industrial city.

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‘The Ibom Super Highway project did not stop in 2018. The funding of the project stopped in 2019. It was when we observed the reluctance of the Federal Government to give us the necessary approval for Ibom Deep Seaport we decided to slow down.

“The state government believed it was more critical for us to persuade the Federal Government and get approval for the construction of the deep seaport first. This is because if we don’t build the deep seaport the 55.1kilometer Super Highway is not economically viable to sustain.

“But it is only when the seaport approval is in our hands that we can be sure of doing the road. So our concentration now is on how to get all the approvals promised by the Federal government. If the deep seaport is not there, we don’t need the road.
“The reason for initiating the 12-lane Super Highway is primarily for us to create access to the deep seaport, and the Ibom Industrial city and avert congestion. It is not meant for general purpose. So the story that the Super Highway has been abandoned is not correct.

“And we have not changed the Elba Construction Company that is handling the road. I have told the contractor to be patient, that the moment we get approval for the deep seaport he will return to site. In fact Government is even owing him,” he said.

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