Concerning Calabar Itu Highway, except there’s an urgent intervention by government, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States risk being thrown into economic doldrums, Readers247 can authoritatively report.
This follows the near-total collapse of Calabar-Itu, the only road linking the two states.
As at last weekend, motorists and passengers plying the Calabar-Itu Federal highway were rendered stranded as the highly deplorable reached the state of impassability.
Both motorists and passengers were stuck in an hopeless gridlock for hours as the failed section of the road (Ikot Akpan Itam axis), finally caved in.
As at 8:45pm of Saturday, 19th October 2019 that this paper interviewed some stranded motorists and passengers, they said they had spent more than six hours in the static gridlock.
“It has been a very frustrating experience for me. We have been stuck up here for the past 6hours. It’s a shame we are living in such a hopeless country where leaders are so insensitive to the plight of the people”, Ukpono, a passenger travelling from Calabar to Uyo stated.
Also speaking, Uchena, a Trailer driver who described Calabar-Itu as his frequent route said although “getting stuck up in traffic on the said road was more or less what we experience everyday on this road, what makes today’s own worst is that the traffic is not moving at all”.
Also speaking, Aniekan, a young man at his early forties lambasted the Federal Government and government officials for continuously playing politics with the road rather than fixing it.
Aniekan who said there was no point waiting on the Federal Government, called on the governors of both AKWA Ibom and Cross River States to do something urgent about the situation as it affect people of the two states more than the Federal Government.
“Waiting on the Federal government to come and do this road is as hopeless as the situation we are in right now (pointing to the gridlock).
“The truth is that believing that Buhari has any serious plan to do this road amounts to living in a fool’s paradise.
“There’s no point appealing to him to come to our rescue because we have appealed, appealed and now we are tired.
“I would rather call on the governors of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River to put their heads together and do something about this road”, Aniekan submitted.
Meanwhile, when our reporter took a bike to the other end of the traffic (few metres to Ekim junction, he said the situation was not different.
Motorists travelling from Uyo to Calabar were left with no option than cutting short their trip and returning to town upon meeting the stranded travellers sitting by the roadside or loitering about.
Only passengers who could afford fresh payment were seen either taking a bike to either end of the traffic to scramble to secure a vehicle to go back to Cross River or Akwa Ibom.
As at 10:15pm that our reporter left the scene, the traffic situation was still the same.
Even as at yesterday, the link between Cross River and AKWA Ibom was still cut off.
Meanwhile, still that same Saturday, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Ita Enang had went on air to disown his earlier position that contractors were being mobilized to site and that the road was undergoing construction.
“Hear me clearly, I did not say that the much talked about Calabar Itu Highway has been completed with a spur at Ididep, I only said that the road was awarded by the federal government.
“Julius Berger has not been given enough mobilization for us to say they’ve failed. They are busy on other projects funded by the presidential infrastructure development fund. In fact, yesterday, we had a meeting with them and we’re trying to see how they can return to site”
Enang however shifted the responsibility to Akwa Ibom State government, asking that Gov Udom Emmanuel should take over construction of the road.
“The Federal Government of APC led by President Muhammadu Buhari refunded the sum of N78 billion to the PDP government led by Deacon Udom Emmanuel in February 2019 as amount spent on federal roads.
“It is only wise that Governor Udom Emmanuel who now has so much on his hands should as well intervene in the repairs and construction of federal roads, just like his predecessors did”, Enang submitted.
It would be recalled that the contract for the construction of Calabar-Itu Highway was awarded by the Buhari led-FG since his first term.
Although the President had told royal fathers led by the Obong of Calabar during a courtesy visit on him at Aso Rock last week that the road was near completion, the present state of the road, and Enang’s confirmation that Julius Berger had since down tools has further given life to insinuation that respite is still far away from the people of the two states.