AKWA IBOM, Nigeria – Worried by the rate of deplorable federal roads in Akwa Ibom State, the Civil Liberties Organisation has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fix the roads to ameliorate the sufferings of motorists plying the roads.
The CLO added that the President should mobilize contractors back to site especially the Ikot Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Federal Highways before the celebration of Christmas.
The Chairman of the international human rights group, in Akwa Ibom state, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, stated this during a press conference in his office in Uyo on Tuesday.
The CLO berated the federal government for failing to fix federal roads in the state over the years, saying that; “the Ikot-Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Federal Highway which is the only link road between Akwa Ibom and Cross River States has been left to suffer various stages of degradation which has culminated in the current deplorable impassable state.
The organisation lamented that various segments of the road have been eaten off by gully erosion while other larger chunks now constitute death traps to motorists and commuters leading to loss of many lives.
According to Otuekong, “a journey on the road from Uyo to Calabar, which naturally should be accomplished within one hour, now takes up to six or seven hours. The cost in terms of man-hours and damage to vehicles is better imagined than experienced. The economic cost to Akwa Ibom and Cross River States as well as Nigeria, in general, is gargantuan.
“when the Ikot Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Federal Highway first featured in the budget of the President Buhari’s administration, CLO heaved a sigh of relief as did other Nigerians and wild celebrations followed the reported award of a contract by the Federal Government to Julius Berger. When work resumed on a section of the road at Itu, Akwa Ibom State, CLO and the road users were happy about the sincerity of the federal government only for the construction works to stop immediately after the 2019 general elections giving an impression that the road was only used by the ruling APC federal government for its political campaigns and nothing more’’
“The condition of the road has since worsened, and motorists and vehicles are writhing in pain on the road. Transport fares on the road have quadrupled and travelling on the road is a nightmare. The prices of agricultural products in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States have skyrocketed on account of the deplorable nature of this very important road.”
CLO tasked the Federal Government to immediately mobilise the contractors to return to sites to ensure the expeditious completion of the of Ikot Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Federal Highway.