June 13, 2021

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Again, Calabar-Itu Road On The News For Wrong Reasons

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Those who ply the Calabar-Itu Road are again lamenting over the deplorable condition of the road. It is now an annual occurrence though. But this time, the state of the road seems to have become more terrible than it has ever been.
The Calabar-Itu Road is the only link that connects Calabar with Akwa Ibom and Abia State. Anyone travelling from Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia and other neighbouring states must necessarily pass through this road to get to Calabar en route other places like Akamkpa, from where heavy duty vehicles load stones for construction works, to other parts of the country.
The NDDC has intervened many times. But as is always the case with NDDC jobs, whatever they do would only last for a few months. Then the road would return to its former state, or even worse.
In 2016, Ibim Semenitari, then acting managing director grabbed the headlines when under her regime, the NDDC rehabilitated bad portions of the road. That action attracted so much commendation from the people, including the governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade.
The governor was quoted as having said that “if not for the timely intervention of the NDDC, the annual Calabar Carnival would have been a disaster. This is because access to the state capital from both Itu and Ikom roads had been cut off. It was shear nightmare for us before now. We must celebrate the NDDC and Mrs. Semenitari for coming to our rescue.”
Less than one year after, the road started collapsing again and by last year, drivers had started crying again. As at today, the road has become impassable again.
Those who cannot afford to spend days on the road now resort to using the sea route through Oron to Uyo. The House of Representatives ad hoc committee on ports decongestion could not follow the sea route on their way to Calabar, where they had gone to inspect the Calabar port and hold a town hall meeting with the stakeholders.
They were forced to spend about three hours on a particular spot on the road. The committee chairman, Yusuf Buba Yakub did not hide his anger when he addressed journalists on the road. He made a similar case to the governor when his team visited.
“This is totally unacceptable to all Nigerians and we cannot allow things to continue this way. We have been on this road for over three hours with full escorts consisting of different paramilitary personnel. Many people here have been in this traffic gridlock for three to four days and this is neither good for our economy nor for the lives of the people.”
It was good that the lawmakers experienced a bit of what most Nigerians have been going through. We believe that having gone through the excruciating experience, the lawmakers might just be able to push for the construction of the Calabar-Itu Road, which has been in the Nigerian budget since 2017.
We are joining other Nigerians to call on the various governments to step in and fix the road. This is one road that is very important to the economic growth of the nation, especially for those in the Niger Delta.
If the road is not fixed between now and November, then there is the likelihood that this year’s Calabar Carnival will be seriously threatened. But while waiting of the federal ministry of works, it will not be out of place for the NDDC to again return to that road for remedial measures.
Also, we suggest that the Akwa Ibom and Cross River state governments should come together and think of how best to handle the issue. This is the road that people from the two states use, even though their top government officials use the air space, to escape the trap. This is what they owe the people.

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