The Udom administration in Akwa Ibom State, a big oil-bearing state is currently performing very poorly on rural roads in the state. Local communities and those visiting the rural areas for commercial activities are not speaking well of the administration.
The glaring neglect of rural roads by the administration has compounded the hardship sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is blaming the poor state of the roads in the state on the rains and the poor financial resources of the state as a result of the rampaging virus. Many of the electorates are not persuaded. They are viewing the governor’s claim as a lame excuse.
Tragically, most of the communities in the state, according to our roving reporters, are no longer accessible since the rainy season started as the access roads to villages are washed off, bridges collapsing, and flood taking over communities.
Residents are attributing the poor state of these facilities to aging, overused or poor jobs done by contractors.
The people of Hung Ette Ibesikpo can no longer access their village from Aka- Hung Udoe Road at Ikot Ambon or Owot Uta axis because the roads are impassable.
Also, Nung Ette residents cannot access their village from Iron Road through Mbiaobong Ikot Owot which passes through Shelter Afrique Estate.
Akpan Etim Mark, a resident is lamenting that after taking our land for two housing estates and using our roads to conveyed materials for the construction of Shelter Afrique what we get from the government is flooding and impassable road.
In a radio and television media interaction, the governor while responding to an appeal from a native of Nung Ette seeking government intervention, had asked the villagers what was the state of their roads 20 years?
Victory Jimmy from Ediam Ibesikpo lamented that the Nung Udoe Ituk Mbang Road and the Nung Udoe-Ibiaku Ishiet Road and no longer motorable and wonder if Ibesikpo is still part of the state.
Some of the communities affected by collapsed bridges have called on the State Government to come to their aid by fixing the deplorable roads to improve transportation and economic life of the people.
A community leader in Onna Local Government Area, Governor Udom’s area, says collapsed bridges littering across the state in recent times are now becoming death traps due to their abandonment by the government.
He spoke about Ikot Akpan Mkpe – Ikot Akpa Ekop bridge saying, the collapsed and abandoned bridge which was constructed in the 70’s used to provide a thoroughfare for traders travelling from Onna to the popular Ukam market in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, but today because of its collapsed state, people are forced to resort to the alternative route of longer distance.
According to him, ‘‘Ikot Akpan Mkpe – Ikot Akpa Ekop bridge was constructed in the 70’s linking part of Onna with Mkpat Enin by providing a thoroughfare for traders going to Ukam Market in Mkpat Enin. Now it has collapsed and abandoned thereby becoming a death trap to people traversing the area to Ukam market’’.
Some of the collapsed bridges in the State during the survey carried included: Nkwot Edem Edet in Ikono LGA, Aka – Ikot Udo Eno in Ibiono LGA and Mbiaso – Ikot Ukpong in Obot Akara Local Government.
Others are; Ikot Inyang Okop – Ikot Ekpang, Asana – Ibianga bridges located in Mkpat Enin LGA, Ibikpe –Mbiakong bridge in Uruan, Ikot Mfon –Ndiya bridge, Afaha Ikot Idem Udo – Ntan bridge in Etinan linking Onna , Mbiaso Enyin Bridge and kot Nsong – Ikot Enyienge Bridge linking Etinan with Mkpat Enin amongst others.
An indigene of Obot Akara Local Government, Michael Umoh, who commented on the state of Mbiaso – Ikot Ukpong Bridge says the situation was bad up to a level the community could no longer wait for the government to reconstruct the bridge.
He said, they rather tasked themselves to make the bridge passable, by levying members of the community and passers-by to contribute some money they used to buy materials to construct an improvised bridge to aid the free movement of goods since the road is linking Akwa Ibom with Abia State.
Umoh expressed worry that, the collapsed bridge had affected the economy of the area so much that, traders from Obot Akara will have to go through a rigorous alternative road before they could go to Ikot Ekpene to either buy or sell goods.
He called on the state government to help the community by constructing a new bridge adding that, why they could use the road now, is because it was done by a concerned indigene of the community.
A survey showed that these bridges/collapsed roads play important role in the State’s economy by providing access to farmers and traders to evacuate their goods to other towns but, their present state is not encouraging thereby posing great danger to even survival by the people.
About three weeks, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Aniekan Bassey, ordered the House Committee on Works to visit 16 communities in Ikono Local Government Area; Nkwot Ikot Nseyen – Nung Ukim and Iton Ikot Ito – Iton Mmong bridges. This was in response to an appeal from the legislator representing the area in the assembly, fMr Asuquo Nnana Udo.