STAKEHOLDERS from Abia and Akwa Ibom have called for completion of the Obehie-Akwete-Azumini- Ukanafun road to ease movement of farm produce and business activities in the areas.
The stakeholders spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Monday in Aba.
NAN reports that the Federal Government awarded the contract for dualisation of the 50-km highway linking Abia to Akwa Ibom with a diversionary link to Rivers at the cost of N34 billion.
The contract was awarded to Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Nigeria in 2010, by the Ministry of Niger-Delta Affairs.
Mr Uzoma Abonta, the member representing Ukwa Federal Constituency at the National Assembly said the road was a regional one, which should be taken over and completed by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“That road, initiated by me was awarded many years ago through Federal Executive Council to CCECC.
“And the Chinese company is waiting payment of compensations on the road.
“I have written to the Ministry of Niger Delta to please pay the Chinese company who claimed they are owed to continue and complete the road.
“The federal constituency is an Oil Producing Area. But till now, the people have been subjected to unbearable hardship because of the nature of that road which is difficult to drive through during the rainy seasons,” Abonta said.
The lawmaker said he had also written letters to NDDC to take over and complete it, noting that the road was important to the people of the area who contribute to national wealth.
He said that he and Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe had written to the ministry which promised to add the road to it budget.
”But when was completed, the Niger Delta ministry budgeted very little amount for the road,’” he said.
Abonta said that the last budget of the ministry for the road was only N200 million which could not accomplishe much.
He noted that they (senators) asked for budget upgrade to N1billion but it was not honoured.
Mr Mao Azunna, the Chairman, Grand Council of Niger-Delta Youth Leaders, Abia State chapter said that the Chinese company did only 500 meters of construction at Okeikpe area in Ukwa West, since 2012 till date and had yet to complete it.
Azunna stressed that the road had subjected Ukwa people, neighbouring Annang and Ogoni to economic hardship.
He said it was regrettable that property worth millions of naira were destroyed by the company in the course of executing the project, but less than seven per cent of the people affected received compensation.
However, commuters decried the deteriorating state of the road and pleaded with the government to complete it.
Mr John Uko, a retired teacher and native of Ukanafun, said his car broke down midway at Ohambele, while going to Akwete due to deteriorating state of the road.
According to him, the bad road is detrimental to peace and security in the area.
“I don’t know why we love doing things wrongly in this country while ignoring the right ways.
“A motorable Obehie-Akwete-Azumini-Ukanafun road will change people’s lives and create new commercial centre in the middle of Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Abia.
“There is something very significant about this road; our leaders always talk about economic diversification, especially toward agriculture.
“If there’s any road in Nigeria that can improve agriculture in terms of moving farm produce to cities, improve trade and commerce between rural and urban areas it is this road,” Uko said.
Recall that the road contract was awarded in two separate sections to the same company.
The first section being the stretch from Obehie junction beginning from Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway to Akwete town spanning 20 km was awarded in March 2010 for about N12.3 billion.
The second section stretching from Azumini to Ukanafun in Akwa-Ibom spans 30 km was awarded in November 2010 for about N21 billion
Although part of the Azumini – Ukanafun road was done to an extent, the Akwete – Obehie road project, which was abandoned has failed badly and turned into a death trap. (NAN)
– Jul. 13, 2020 @ 14:55 GMT |