By Joseph Atainyang
Four Federal Government Agencies have agreed to collaborate
with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs to provide palliatives on the dilapidated Calabar – Odukpani- Itu – Ikot Ekpene – Aba road.
This is to address the challenges face by motorists, commuters on the road.
The agencies include: the Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Emergency and Road Management Agency (FERMA), the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) and the Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRSC).
Arising from an on_the_spot inspection of the road, after parts awarded to Julius Berger was abandoned due to paucity of funds, the agencies at the weekend agreed to intervene so as to ease vehicular movement, especially in the Yuletide season.
While the federal Ministry of works, FERMA and NDDC are to tackle the yet to be awarded decayed portions of the road between Odukpani in Cross River state and Itu of Akwa Ibom State, the FRSC’s duty would be to provide constant presence at different locations to control traffic and ensure hitch free movement.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang who led the team to assess the situation in response to the cries and yearnings of the citizens asserted that the idea was necessary because the road has attracted wild criticisms from members of the public due to its continued dilapidation .
Senator Enang explained that the road which begins from Odukpani in Cross River State and terminates in Aba, Abia State, has only 22 kilometres awarded. He added that of the N54 billion naira cost, only N7 billion was released which he agreed with the company that the money was not enough to carry out the project.
The SSA thanked all agencies on the mission for being enthusiastic about tackling the deplorable condition of the roads.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank the Federal Emergency and Road Management Agency (FERMA). I appreciate the executive director East of FERMA. I equally thank the Managing Director of FERMA because when I went to his office to discuss this issue with him, he was very enthusiastic. He said he has heard so much about the road which was capable of embarrassing the image of the Federal Government.
“Fortunately for us, the chairman of the committee on FERMA is Senator Geshom Bassey from Cross River South. I have been working with him so that FERMA can do some emergency work on the road.
“The essence of this assessment is for us to join forces in terms of recourses to provide intervention on this road. FERMA will take its part, the NDDC will take its part and the federal ministry of works will take its part.
“As I have been saying, there are three sections of this road: the one that is awarded, the one designed, under procurement but yet to be awarded and the section that nothing has happened at all.
“There is what the federal ministry of works calls ‘Ember Month Programme’. It is aimed at keeping federal highways workable and motorable during the Christmas period. They have that provision and that’s what they will be doing here”, Senator Ita Enang had said.
In his response, a staff of the Federal Ministry of works, Engr. Peter Umoren who is the Project Supervisor for the road informed journalists that their proposal with regards to the project was all ready being attended to at the ministry.
“We have all ready sent our proposal to the headquarters for the Ember Month Programme. It is receiving attention and as soon as it is approved, we shall be here”, he affirmed.
Speaking also, a deputy Director in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Engr Etim Eyoette told newsmen that the agency will provide intervention on the road and make it motorable.
“We have seen the deplorable condition of the road. We are taking measurement and urgently sending proposals to the head office. NDDC is not new to this road. In 2016, we intervened on some portions of the road. So, we know exactly what to do in this situation”, he said.
Similarly, the zonal coordinator of FERMA, covering Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa States, Engr Backon Israel gave the assurance that necessary steps were being taken in order to tackle the situation.
However, while Julius Berger, through her Project Manager, Engr Christian Kloeptol has assured road users that her awarded portion of 12.2 kilometres would be maintained to allow for free flow of traffic, the Akwa Ibom Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, SC Aghenek Aro stated that his men will continue to sacrificially maintain ideal traffic situation on the road.