The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has once again moved in to intervene on the failed portions of the Calabar-Ikom highway. This is coming on the heels of the Commission’s successful emergency repairs of the Calabar-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene-Aba federal highway.
Making the commitment on an inspection of projects in Cross River and Abia states, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, assured that the Commission’s engineers would swing into action immediately.
Semenitari said that an urgent intervention was necessary to alleviate the problems facing commuters and transporters on the road, stating that despite of funding constraints the Commission was ready to take up the challenge of providing relief for those using the road.
“As an interventionist agency, we are committed to helping to alleviate these problems,” she said, adding: “In the next one week, just as we intervened on the Calabar-Itu road, we should be able to do something to reduce the pains of commuters on this road. Although we have funding challenges, we will do our best to see how we can do remedial work on this road in the shortest possible time.
“Just as we intervened on the Calabar-Itu road, we will find capable contractors who will work on this road to make lives bearable for the communities around and for those who have to ply the road, because this is the only link between Calabar and the northern parts of the country.”
The NDDC boss commended North-West Petroleum for spearheading the move to provide temporary remedies on a collapsed portion of the road at Adim, in Biase Local Government Area.
She said: “The private company took the initiative to tackle the challenge without waiting for government, apparently because her fuel tankers were among those stranded on the road. The chief executive of the petroleum distribution company, who I understand is a female, is using her private resources to stabilize the road to enable trucks and tankers to use the road.
“She deserves plaudits for the efforts she has made to ease the burden on thousands of road users who have been stranded on the road for close to one week. Let me also commend the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs who called our attention to the problems on this road, as well as the Cross River State government that specifically requested that we should get involved in addressing these challenges.”
Helpless commuters, who were held up at the road yesterday, had tales of woes to tell. One of the stranded tanker drivers, Malam Salisu Jubril, said he had slept on the road for five days in Adim community where the road totally collapsed due to pressure from many heavy duty trucks and fuel tankers conveying petroleum products from Calabar fuel depot.
Another truck driver, Mr. Izuchukwu Iwunze, said that the problems of the stranded transporters were compounded by the activities of criminals who attack them at night, dispossessing some of them of their belongings. “I beg the government to help us. We are suffering too much,” he said.
A yam trader, Mr. Benson Onoja lamented: “What is happening here can cripple the economy of Cross River State. Look at the yam and other farm produce in those trucks rotting away. How will we recover from the huge losses that we are bound to incur?”
It would be recalled that it took the intervention of the NDDC to restore the virtually impassable Calabar-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene-Aba Road. The emergency repairs had progressed satisfactorily, making it possible for motorists to use the road safely.