Promise of 85km Link Road thrills isolated Kula Kingdom
After several decades isolation occasioned by lack of access road to the rest of the state, the people of Kula Community in Akuku-Toru Local Council of Rivers State leapt for joy following the unfolding of plans for the construction of the proposed 85km Kula-Port Harcourt Road.
Kula Community, one of the coastal communities occupied by the people of Kalabari ethnic nationality, is situated in the western axis of Rivers State.
Being entirely surrounded by a network of rivers and creeks, it takes hours of boat ride to get into the isolated kingdom. And due to lack of road to the area, some octogenarians resident there have never set eyes on motor vehicles all their lives.
Research confirms that the people have occupied the territory for nearly a thousand years, but there are no cars there due to its isolation.
Apart from the isolation, the people in the past would go without food for days due to lack of access route to the city to buy foodstuffs, especially when the few available boats breakdown.
It was further gathered that, before the emergence of engine boat, canoe paddlers can spend three to four days on the river attempting to make it to the city to purchase food foodstuffs. But of late, bigger engine boats move into the area once or twice a week to sell foodstuffs to the people in order to reduce the challenges residents face.
Worried by the plight of his people, President of Belema Oil Producing Limited, Jack-Rich Tein Jr, and indigene of the area, who also grew up in the community recently took up the task of bridging the gap, by constructing the road from Kula to Port Harcourt the state capital.
To achieve this, he has commenced a collaboration with the Federal Government to begin preliminary work and approvals for commencement of construction works.
The multi billion-naira Bodo-Bonny road project, which is far higher than the N120b is expected to link up all satellite communities and settlements of Belema, Robertkiri, Luckyland, and Boro, through Idama Kingdom and Degema.
Speaking on the project, the paramount ruler of Kula Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, King Kroma Amabibi Eleki described the project is an answer to many years of prayers, pains and sufferings.
He expressed disappointment that oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other multi-national companies, which the community plays host to turned blind eyes to their unbearable and pitiable condition for years.
The monarch said: “Today, God has answered our prayers. He has used our son, Jack-Rich Tein to wipe away our tears of many years. We were abandoned, but we have been remembered.”
He, however, urged the people to give all the support that is required to facilitate the execution of the project.
One of the women leaders in the area, Mrs. Justina Alex, said the project would improve the standard of living in the area, as well as enhance the health of the people.
She said, “Before now, we used to paddle canoe for three days before we get to Port Harcourt to buy foodstuffs because in those days, there were no engine boats, which travel for at least one hour. So, within the three days, if our food finished and the people that went to buy food yet to return, we will remain hungry until whenever they come back. Our situation was terrible, but this project will remove us from darkness and bring us into light.”
Also speaking, a youth in the area, Oroko Omona, expressed joy that attacks from sea pirates would be a thing of the past with the road network.
Meanwhile, the Manager, External Relations, Belema Oil Producing Limited, Samuel Abel-Jumbo, who spoke during a special prayer and thanksgiving service by Kula Council of Chiefs in honour of Jack-Rich Tein Jnr, in Kula said the multi-billion-naira project shall upon completion, not only guarantee the security of life and property of the people, but will no longer make the people to be prey to marauding pirates on the seas and waterways.
He further disclosed that the firm is also opening Kula with the ongoing construction of the 6.5Km Ring road, linking the old city centre through the new areas back to the community jetty.
“He added: “We are reclaiming and opening the water fronts and other frontiers within the community, and thereby expanding the community. In 2016 when we resumed operations of OML 55, our communities, particularly Kula was in dire need of quality drinking water. Today, we do not only have drinking water, we have world-class potable drinking water of WHO and NAFDAC standards, and which quality is commensurate with any standard all over the world.
“In the last two years, we have created and enhanced local wealth creation in Kula by ensuring that our people partake in contracts and other opportunities to enhance their livelihood,” he said.
Abel-Jumbo added: “As a company, we are very delighted to be invited to be part of this epoch-making historical gathering in the annals of this great kingdom. The more exciting part is the fact that Belema Oil Producing Ltd, an indigenous oil-producing company emanating from the great Kingdom of Kula, being the first to come from an oil-producing community in Nigeria and founded by your own son, Engr. Jack-Rich.”