DAVID AGABI, our correspondent in Calabar, undertook a census of potholes in Calabar and returned with a conclusion that the number of potholes in the town is even much more than the number of roads in the Canaan city, put together. The other discovery was that the residents sarcastically refer to the potholes as Ayade’s deep seaports.
Residents of Calabar sing it like a song, everywhere. If in a commercial bus or taxi, once you get close to a pothole, you will just hear a chorus Ayade deep seaport.’ At first, you are confused. But as you keep hearing the song, it suddenly dawns on you, that Calabar residents have nicknamed the many potholes on all Calabar streets as Ayade’s deep seaport.
Penultimate week, a sad incident occurred around the Mobil junction on the highway, close to Zenith Bank. Titus Philemon(not real name) had driven into one of the deep seaports unknowingly. By the time he noticed, he had lost his four tyres. His car had somersaulted and he woke up in the hospital. His car had gone.
That is what most people go through everywhere in Calabar, because of the many deep seaports which do not appear to bother the state government. Going by the constitution and the moral obligation of many nations and states both in Nigeria and beyond, the primary functions of government is the protection of lives and property, maintenance of law and order, promote democracy and social justice, provision of social welfare services, promotion of human rights and promotion of economic development among others.
Clearly, it’s no longer news that the road networks in Calabar, the Metropolitan city of Cross River State is manifested with what is today known as “Deep Seaports” dangerous potholes in virtually all the major and minor roads within and outside Calabar.
Calabar, renowned for its luscious and beautiful scenery with a very hospitable and amiable people, all thanks to nature and high volume of rainfall, has within the period under review been left unchecked and abandoned regarding its infrastructure with particular reference to roads.
However, though the state government complains of the state being among the least states in the country to receive from the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) and lowest in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Unwittingly though, government at some point comes up with strong defence that huge volume of rainfall accessioned by rainy season in the state militates against the maintenance of roads across the state, however, one begin to wonder when ‘roads network considered to be to the socio-economic development of a nation as arteries are to the body’ is left abandoned owing to rainfall.
In other words, roads in effect provide access to the outside world, neighbouring state or market around the corner.
For Cross River that has a defendable government policy as well as prides itself today as an Agro-Industrial Revolution, roads encourage both foreign and local investors to the state, it also takes farm produce from the rural or suburban to urban centres for sale. Roads also make crucial contributions to the economic development and growth, hence bringing important social benefits.
They are of vital importance in the growth and development of a nation or state and in addition, providing access to employment, social, health and education services and crucial in fighting against poverty.
So to speak, the potholes, christened “deep seaports” which are today manifestly criss-crossing all the roads in the city such as the Murtala Muhammmed Highway with a terrible deep pothole close to the state secretariat, Marian by Atekong drive, Eta Agbor road, Mary Slessor Avenue, Mount Zion Road MCC, Goodluck Jonathan by-pass, Calabar road among others.
Now the question is, should a state acclaimed to have the biggest street party in Africa, and indeed third in the world, known as Carnival Calabar billed for December every year have such taste and visibly bad roads? How will the would-be fun seekers and tourists alike be encouraged to come spend a fortune in a bid to savour the exquisite party, when they can hardly find their way to the city through land?
With the poor state of roads, how successful will it be for the carnival bands to trek, dance, and display their various troupe to the world? What is the plan of government in this circumstance? Or is the government still brings to the fore an old story of the rainy season is not healthy for construction activities’, whereas the motto of Nations Paradise still subsist?
Undoubtedly , the state’s dilapidated road infrastructure cannot be over emphasized in the contest of deaths and injuries of commuters as a result of accidents, particularly at nights, wear and tear of vehicles both public and private, man hour loss as a result of hold-ups occasioned by potholes, shoulder drop-off, missing guard rails eroding roads and construction zones.
To this end though, it’s well understood that most of these roads were constructed in the 1990s, 1980s and early 1990s, but the underlying fact is, most of them have hitherto being neglected by the successive administrations in the state.
Consequently, having underscored the fact that there are innumerable “deep seaports” in Calabar, another question begging for answer is, is the state governor, Prof Benedict Bengiorshuye Ayade aware of the state of the roads?
He does not have a cabinet in place at the moment, about six months after assuming office for a second term. So, there is nobody to speak on the matter.
But Cross Riverians from the hills of Obanliku to the estuaries of Bakassi yearn for good governance and participatory democracy that will engender the dividends of democracy most especially as the yuletide season is around the corner.