Akwa Ibom communities in tears over deplorable roads

Some local communities in Akwa Ibom are crying out to the state government for intervention over the deplorable state of their roads as UKO ETIM reports that a new era of roads rehabilitation dawns in the state. 

The creation and maintenance of good road networks within a geographical territory remains the sole responsibility of the government, be it federal, state and local in any political dispensation. This is true as the aftermath is to boost the economic activities of the area both tangibly and intangibly as the case may be.

That’s why a state or country with no proper road networks goes through sore economic experiences.

The Akwa Ibom state governor, Pastor Umo Eno, is dawning a new era of internal road rehabilitation as evidenced by the flagging of several road constructions in different local government areas of the state.

Former state of the roads

Amidst these flagging off, Ekpene Ukim and Ituk Mbang communities in Uruan local government of the state are on the radar over its dilapidated access route to the recently revamped Methodist General Hospital and one of the most popular markets in the area.

The erstwhile primary healthcare in the area was remodeled into a secondary healthcare delivery system and commissioned in May 2017 by the former state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel to cater for the health needs of the people of the local government and across the state.

The facelift of the hospital undoubtedly brought tears of joy to the locals considering how dejected and bad it looked to the extent that the ex-governor had to prevent cameramen from taking pictures during his first tour of the facility.

Unfortunately, the revamped hospital is no more a picture of a magnificent ambience as the local dwellers are now entangled in bitter-sweet experiences. Their excitement about the facelift of the hospital is abruptly quenched by the deplorable road situation in the area at the moment. 

The once popular old oron road created by former Governor Victor Attah which is within the local government area of the current senator representing Akwa Ibom  North-East  Senatorial District, Senator Aniekan Bassey is now becoming a death trap to commuters and economic sabotage to businesse men and women in the community.

Patients trying to access the health facility ofyen find it difficult owing to thebad state of access route into the facility.  

The vast gallops that had torn the road into multidimensional shapes in front of the hospital envelope stagnant waters where mosquitoes, frogs, and other dangerous organisms turn into their habitat to the fear and worrisome of patients occupying the health facility.

Investigation revealed that sometime ago, a pregnant woman who once plied the road to her community in a public transport popularly called a mini-bus nearly fainted resulting from the jumping motion of the vehicle she boarded on the road.

Contractor’s negligence

The road said to be awarded to a local contractor by the Akwa Ibom Road and Other Infrastructure Maintenance Agency (AKROIMA) before the 2023 general election has caused many people to desert their homes as flood from the road take over their property. The abandonment of the road has raised suspicion against AKROIMA and the contractor.

But in trying to resort to self-help, the youths of Ekpene Ukim community were recently spotted attempting to carry out short-lived remedial maintenance on the road with sands and stones to enable patients to access the hospital but no remedy in the offing for those heading to the community market for businesses.

Consequently, the unexcited youths pointed accusing fingers at the Akwa Ibom Road and Other Infrastructure Maintenance Agency (AKROIMA) over the poor condition of the road and lamented that they have paid daily on the abandoned road for eight months now.

The youths who decried that the abandoned road has destroyed lives and property and stalled economic activities in the communities, unanimously debunked that they had never resisted the government from constructing the road as manufactured and spread by people they called ‘vessels of deception who are constantly in a bid to gain thumbs up from onlookers.

It was also gathered that the people of Ikot Inyang in Ituk Mbang community had approached the contractor handling the job then to channel the heavy running water properly to the nearby ravine to avoid their property being submerged by flood but the contractor allegedly took their appeal as an excuse to stop work on the road despite being fully mobilised for the project.

Reaction(s)

However, a stakeholder from one of the communities who spoke under the condition of anonymity frowned at the current situation of the dilapidated road in the area.

He told Blueprint via a telephone conversation that lots of local dwellers have lost their lives, particularly in the Ekpene Ukim community due to vehicular movements on the alternative routes within the village.

“AKROIMA led by Obong Godwin Ntukeduh as the chairman came and consulted the Council of Chiefs both in Ituk Mbang and Ekpene Ukim and the construction started on the old oron road traversing Ituk Mbang General Hospital and Ekpene Ukim Market, before the last general elections.

“But shortly after the election, the construction stopped. I tried to find out what the problem was and was told that in the course of channeling water from the road, the youths of Ikot Inyang in Ituk Mbang had approached the contractors and appealed to them to channel the water properly so that their houses would not be destroyed by flood.

“So, the contractor now capitalised on their( Ituk Mbang youths) demands to stop work on the road. You know that many contractors mostly look for the slightest opportunity to abandon work and then run away with project money.

“You know that the cash was disbursed to them during the election period and I think they (contractors) had the intention of running away with the money because how can a simple issue like that bring the entire road construction to an end without completion in mind? 

“As we speak, a lot of people in Ekpene have deserted their homes. I bet you if you go to Ekpene Ukim, many people cannot live in their houses because of the flood. The contractors left the drains they started constructing in a condition that water do not have free flow except to divert into any available space.

“Because of the deplorable roads, drivers now take alternative routes inside Ekpene Ukim village and from what I heard, vehicles have killed many persons on the alternative routes. The abandoned road has brought untold hardship to the people in the community in all ramifications.”

He therefore appealed to Gov Umo to bring succor to the people of the communities in the Uruan LGA by restoring the motor ability of the road which has served as an economic route for the people of the area for decades.

All efforts to get a reaction from the chairman of AKROIMA, Obong Godwin Ntukeduh on the matter proved abortive as he did not respond to phone calls and text messages sent to his phone.