Indigenes of Akwa Ibom have raised concerns over the stoppage of dualization work on the multi-billion naira Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene federal road project linking the state with Cross River state.
The road, which was constructed in the 70s, is now almost impassable thereby hampering the free and smooth movement of vehicular movements between the two sister states.
Contract for the dualization of the road was awarded by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing at the heat of the electioneering campaigns to mobilize votes in the South-South for the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The project is titled” Dualization of Odukpani-Itu (spur Ididep Itam) Ikot Ekpene Road”. It spans through Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
Its contract number is 6321 with Design Construct Ltd as supervising consultant while Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is the portfolio contractor.
Our correspondent can confirm that the project site located between Ekim and Ididep villages in Itu local government area along Ikot Ekpene Odukpani in Akwa Ibom has been deserted by the incumbent contractor Julius Berger.
Investigations reveal that the project site was finally shutdown after presidential election in March.
Findings also indicate that all construction equipment were moved to other locations in April when Julius Berger was owing backlog of salaries to workers working on the project.
A guard, at the construction yard in Ekim told newsmen that all the equipment mobilized to the site before the general election have been removed by the company without any explanation to the security men in the premises.
“The site has been shut down since April this year because workers were not paid their salaries for more than four months until we closed the site”
“We only work on 2 kilometers. No information so far to know when we would resume work. Only the management can tell us. They sacked everybody here except few security men to protect leftover materials such as chippings, stone base and granites at the site.”
When our correspondent visited Julius Berger site last week, only heaps of sand and stone base were found without any construction equipment except few security men guarding some leftover materials.
Meanwhile, residents in Ekim Itam and Ididep communities where the former Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Senator Ita Enang comes from, have cried out over the deplorable conditions of the abandoned road as the rainy season sets in.
From Ididep to Ekim Itam leading to Ekoriko junction, a cyclist Mr Uduak Akpan Udoh complained that the potholes left on the road by Julius Berger has worsened the condition of the road for both motorists and pedestrians.
“The gallop on the road caused by Julius Berger equipment has rendered the road impassable for us especially this rainy season. The road is very bad now. As the government abandoned the road, it becomes more deplorable. Now, the federal government told us that the road would be completed within four years.”
“We want them to complete this road for us to use. During the election campaign, the APC led federal government told us that the road would four-lane but they have not done it as planned. ”
Another resident of the area Mr. Nsikan Peter observed that there are more accidents on the road than before since it has been abandoned.
He recalled that seven people died in ghastly motor accident the previous week and called on federal government to bring back the contractor to complete the project to save the people from sudden death.