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Uncommon Roads In A State Of Uncommon Transformation


A deplorable section of one of the roads                                                                                //PHOTO: ANIETIE AKPAN

A deplorable section of one of the roads //PHOTO: ANIETIE AKPAN

EKET or Akwa Ibom South Senatorial district is the cash cow of Akwa Ibom state and the nation, courtesy of the Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN)/Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) joint venture oil exploration activities in the area.

Unfortunately, for years, the roads leading to this area have been completely neglected and are in a terrible state. First is the N26 billion dualisation of the 75-kilometre federal road from Etinan to Eket at a cost of N26 billion. The second is the dualisation of the 20-kilometre Eket-Ibeno road at a cost of N24.9 billion.

The Akwa Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, flaged off the dualisation of the two roads on June 5 (Etinan-Eket) and July 27 (Eket-Ibeno), 2013, respectively, with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria limited as the main contractor for the two projects.

While inaugurating the Etinan-Eket road at the Okon axis, the governor said the road would be ready in 36 months. He said: “I am not starting a job only to abandon it. I am starting a job to be completed by 2015. I have directed that the construction company start from three locations: one from Eket, another in the middle and the other from Etinan town, and the three will join. We have three bridges along this road, and the company will make sure that, as much a possible, we have street lights all over.”

During the groundbreaking ceremony of Eket-Ibeno road, Akpabio commended the NNPC/MPN Joint Venture for its support, and for agreeing to partner with the state government to get the job done. He charged the communities in Ibeno to protect the construction company in their domain, in order to help it deliver the road in record time before the end of his administration.

He said: “All I require from the communities, the youth leaders from the local government areas and their paramount rulers is to protect the company, so that it can do its work in record time. It is likely to work day and night because I insist that I want to be the governor to inaugurate this road before I leave office.

“I am not here to play politics, but to do a serious business. We are not taking over the job from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but we are assisting it. I feel that we can remove potholes from Eket-Ibeno road by constructing a new one. After this, I will commence the remodelling and beautification of Eket. This area produces the money that the entire state, and indeed country, are using.”

The state governor, during the flag-off of the project, told the people of Eket-Ibeno: “I need to apologise because I am not happy with the state of the road.”

He said the road it would be dualised with four bridges, 300mm laterite sub-base course, 200 crushed stone base course, 60mm asphalt stone binder course, 50mm asphalt wearing course, 1.80 walkways, 2.75m parking lane, 20.1m carriageway and street lights, among others.

He added that the road would provide easy access to Qua Iboe terminal, Stub creek natural habitat, Ibeno beach, and would be a gateway to the social and economic development of Eket, Esit Eket and Ibeno.

But the people of Eket senatorial district have accused him of playing politics with the roads. They said in other places, like Uyo-Ikot Ekpene and Abak-Ikot Ekpene (federal roads which are located in Akpabio’s area), contractors are working day and night, and construction giant, Julius Berger, is in charge, whereas Eket, were the money comes from, is abandoned.

They said the state government has completely neglected Eket Senatorial, right from Oron to Ikot Abasi.

“We have not felt the impact of this government, yet it is looking for our support. This is wrong, because these two major roads to Eket and Ibeno cannot be ready before the end of this government in May. The contractors are complaining of non-payment of their debt and, as such, they abandoned the roads.”

In the words of the former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Bassey Essien, “the Etinan-Eket and Eket-Ibeno roads are the uncommon roads in the state of uncommon transformation”.

With a good road, driving from Ekom Iman Junction (from the Etinan axis) to Eket should be about 30 to 35 minutes. But now, it lasts over an hour, due to the deplorable condition of the road, worsened by the abandoned construction. The two roads are a nightmare to motorists who must visit mechanic workshops after plying it.

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