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Gnashing their teeth over state of Calabar-Itu highway

Travellers along Calabar-Itu highway have expressed their displeasure over the deplorable state of the road for over three years now.
They complained that the Calabar-Itu highway, which was constructed in the mid-70, is now death trap as it has remained without maintenance ever since it was constructed.
A survey carried out by the Correspondents Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom Council, revealed that there is hardly a portion of the road without potholes.
Speaking to newsmen last week in Itu, a regular user of the road, Mr Effiong Okon, lamented the hardship experienced on the road every week that he passed through from Uyo to Calabar.
Okon, who is a businessman, said that he lacked words to describe the hardship experienced on the road by regular users.
According to him, Uyo to Calabar is supposed to be about an hour journey but now, travellers spend up to eight hours, some sleep on the road, when there is any breakdown of heavy truck along the road.
“I lack word to describe the poor state of the Calabar-Itu road. The road users are now subjected to untold hardship, as if they committed sin for being citizens of Nigeria, and coming from this part of the country.
“A journey of 45 minute-drive from Calabar to Uyo when the road was newly constructed during the military administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, is now taking a two-day drive.
“Travelers only know when they leave and cannot determine when to reach destination. If you are traveling on the road, you are going with a broken heart because of the tears that will come from your eyes during the trip.
“Sometimes, one is forced to sleep on the road as trucks fail on each other within short notice,” Okon said.
Another regular user of the road, Mr Ita Asuquo, collaborated the experience narrated by Okon to newsmen.
Asuquo, who said he traveled along the road nearly every week, decried the deplorable state of the federal highway in the last three years.
He said that since his family stays in Calabar, while he works in Uyo, his travels every weekend has been shortened, to reduce ugly incidents experienced on the highway.
Asuquo said that he can’t travel along the road with his vehicle because each time he used his car to travel, he ended up in the mechanic workshop.
Mrs Eme Essien, who narrated her experience on the road, said that on July 24, she missed a wedding that she prepared to attend in Uyo due the bad state of the highway.
Essien said they left Calabar and was stranded at Okurikang because of gridlock occasioned by the poor state of the road.
“Traveling along this road is not a good experience at all. It is a nightmare coupled with its attendant consequences. If there alternative, one will not travel through this road again.”
She appealed to the Federal Government and both Akwa Ibom and Cross River governments to do everything possible to complete the dualization of Calabar-Itu highway.
She said the deplorable state of the road has affected economic and social activities of the two states.
Reacting to the poor state of the road, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Ita Enang, said that the delay was due to funding challenges confronting the Federal Government.
Enang said the Federal Government has requested for funding support from SuKuk bond to finance the completion of the road.
The Presidential Aide said he had personally written to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works and Housing to assist the project with loan from the SuKuk bond.
“Right now, we are looking at multilateral sources of funding the road.
“I have written and I am requesting for funding support from the Ministries, from the SuKuk bond through the Debt Management Office, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works and Housing to help the road with loan from the SuKuk bond,” Enang said
Enang said that contract for the construction of road has been awarded by the Federal Government to Julius Berger and China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).
He therefore, appealed to the people to be a bit more patient, as efforts were on to ensure completion.
Our Correspondent reports that traveling along Calabar-Itu road, which ought to be an hour journey, now takes over eight hours with its attendant economic consequences, due to its deplorable state.

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