So much have been said and written about the Calabar-Itu Road, yet there does not seem to be any visible, serious signs of reprieve. Commuters go through hell every day, as they try to meander through the rough, bumpy roads into and out of Calabar.
The Calabar-Itu road has suffered deprivation under various governments. There is hardly any year that money is not spent, either on major remedial works or mere intervention by way of filling up the pits and gulley, especially by private individuals whose trucks ply the roads and most times would fall off the road.
Some years ago, it was the NDDC that took it upon themselves to intervene on the road. During the caretaker era of Ibim Seminatari as managing director, the NDDC was able to fix the road to a manageable extent that lasted for about a year before it collapsed again.
But things have since gone so bad again. It has gone so bad that people have decided to abandon the road and take to the river as an alternative route into and out of Calabar. From Uyo, a journey that ought to take about an hour, now takes about three hours. This is aside the wear and tear on the car, in the course of the trip.
The bad state of the road has really affected traffic into and out of the Cross River State capital. Worst still, the tourism sector which used to be the mainstay of the state’s economy has been badly hit. People hardly travel to Calabar because there is no road to the place.
In 2019, when politicians were begging people for their votes, all sorts of propaganda messages were being spread by politicians who deceived the unsuspecting public that contract for the road had been awarded and that work would commence. A few equipment were mobilised to a section of the road and immediately after the election, the equipment disappeared and things returned to where they were.
We do not think that this is good enough. One, that road ought to give the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs some sleepless nights. Even the minister of petroleum also ought to be worried that the oil and gas facility at Odukpani, owned by the nation’s content development board cannot be easily accessed because that portion of the road has become so terrible.
The two ministers are from the south south and it is expected that there ought to have been an alliance between them on how to fix the road once and for all. But the person with the biggest burden is Senator Godswill Akpabio, whose ministry is directly in charge of the road. Rather than pay attention to the road, the minister appears to be more interested in how to control the NDDC and its funds.
It is our view, that all stakeholders need to find immediate ways of ensuring that the Calabar-Itu road is fixed. If it is true that contract has been awarded for the construction of the road, those with the supervising powers should ensure that the project is monitored and completed on schedule.
To abandon the road for this long and allow the people to continue to groan is not in anybody’s interest. As they always say, if you throw a stone into the market, there is the likelihood that if it did not hit your parents, it would most likely hit your relatives.
So, as it is, if Akpabio is not directly suffering as a result of the neglected Calabar-Itu Road, it is possible that his family members, associates or even those related to his relatives may be feeling the impact of the bad road. This is why the minister needs to pay more than extra attention to the road and get it fixed. Afterall, he may need that road when political campaigns start in earnest, ahead of the 2023 elections.