Cross River communities protest, demand N300m compensation
The State government resumed work last month on the superhighway project at the Okuni axis of the road cutting through Etara and Ekuri Eyeyeng in Etung, central senatorial district, following a conditional approval by the Federal government for the state to start work.
Brandishing various placards and banners, which read, “Our cocoa farms are gone; we no go close mouth die-o, do something; No compensation, no superhighway”, the communities expressed their support for the project but demanded for immediate compensation for their farmlands as was done to other communities.
Briefing newsmen before the rally, the Clan Head of Etara Clan, Chief Magnus Oke Ebutu demanded N300 million as compensation”
Earlier, in an address signed by a Community Leader, Prince Simon Ifere and read by Elder Hart Akpama, the communities said government should carry proper assessment of farmlands and everything destroyed by the superhighway to ensure that commensurate compensation is paid.
The communities who are operating under the umbrella of Etara Concerns, said, the destruction of their forest and economic trees started since 2017.
They claimed that crops lost in the project include cocoa farms, yam farms, bush mangoes, cassava, plantain and many others.
One of the affected farmers, Mr. Michael Odora, said he personally lost an area of 45 metres by 270 metres of farmland. But the state government has called for calm, promising that compensation will be paid to all affected communities.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor and Senior Special Assistant Media, Mr. Christian Ita, who confirmed this said, “the government has concluded the enumeration and have submitted the memo to the executive for onward treatment.
Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephriam Inyang said the Ibom Super Highway was delayed because of the failure of the contractor to meet the contractual terms.
He revealed this while fielding questions from journalists on the fate of the 12-lane Ibom Super Highway.
According to him, the construction of the road was an arrangement made under alternative funding approach where the contractor uses his money and we give him ISPO and pay later.
“The contractor was able to open about 11.2km of that road and encourage him to get to the first 22km so that we can get the first spur to the deep-sea port, he promised but failed, we noticed that they did not have all the funding they told us, so government took responsibility in December and changed the model. Therefore, government is now funding the project. We couldn’t issue ISPO to them because they couldn’t meet the 22km required to do so”, he added.
On the Ring road 2, the commissioner said that, the road was ready for asphalting, adding that, “we are making tremendous progress with ring road 3 with Henserk Engineering. The good thing about the road is that compensation on that road has been paid since the Obong Victor Attah’s regime. The few illegal property that crop up recently were removed before we arrived with our bulldozers”, he added.
Also, the Director of Federal Highways (South-South zone) in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Godwin Eke, has described as impressive the commitment and operational speed displayed by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, the contractor handling the construction works of the Itu-Odukpani-Calabar road.
Eke who made the observation at Nkim Itam at the Akwa Ibom end of the road when he led the media on an inspection tour of the ongoing construction works at the project site said: “I am very impressed with the contractor’s work. Though there were lots of issues of compensation and relocation on the right of way, Julius Berger’s speed of work and its total commitment to project delivery is clearly reflected in the high-level construction activities that you (the media) and our team can see before us today. We are impressed.”
He noted that the Calabar – Odukpani-ltu-lkot Ekpene road was a major artery (Trunk A) Federal road linking towns out of the Cross River State capital through Ugep-Ogoja-Katsina Ala to North East and North Central geo-political zones that also connects Akwa lbom State towns onwards to South East and other regions.
Eke said the dualization of the road is strategically planned by government to resolve the traffic issues of the important road corridor.
This, he said, shall include the reduction of both travel time to the barest minimum and the number of accidents on the road.
The project is also intended to give the communities better access to greater economic activities.
The Federal Controller of Works in Akwa Ibom State, Nkereuwem Ukpong also lauded Julius Berger.
Julius Berger’s Project Coordinator in Uyo, Mrs Ndifreke Ukochio, who led the company’s team to receive Eke and the media at the site, promised that the project would be successfully delivered in line with its tradition.
She said; “The 10km Udung Uko road is also ready. Oron phase two road is also on course notwithstanding financial setbacks recently. By April ending Etebi-Enwang road will be ready without the bridge. The 1.02km bridge is equally progressing. With the arrival of funds most of the roads, which are now at Asphalt stage will be completed.”
The Governor actually wanted to concentrate on the campaign rallies and have refused commissioning the roads for now.
We witnessed his refusal at Oruk Anam and Mkpat Enin Council areas were roads constructed here are ready for commissioning. Again several roads done through direct labour are ready for commissioning. However the Governor will commission most of the road before May 29th 2019”, he said.
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