The Akwa Ibom State Government has commenced remedial work on Mkpok Road and other roads in Eket Local Government Area threatened by flood water. The government’s response is in reaction to the ‘Save Our Souls’ message sent by residents of the area to Governor Udom Emmanuel over the collapsed Mkpok Road. Speaking on the remedial efforts to save the collapsed and threatened roads, the Commissioner of Environment and Solid Minerals, Mr Charles Udoh said the work has been handed over to the contractor who has commenced work. Udoh said, “There are three roads in that location that we at workingon: Mkpok road, Umana Ndon street and Isong Udonetort Street by Ediam street. Those are the three erosion sites that His Excellency has approved and work has actually started. “But we are focusing on Mkpok because it has collapsed. First priority was to get Mkpok fixed otherwise, economic activities will be grounded, while we are working on remedial work at others,” he stated. A heavy rainfall accompanied by flood water had a fortnight ago destroyed the gutter along Mkpok road in Eket, leading to the collapse of the road, forcing residents to cry out for government intervention.
Governor Udom Emmanuel responded to the distress call by approving an immediate intervention and permanent solution to the erosion problems in Mkpok road by directing the Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals to immediately commence work in the area. It was gathered that the All-Weather road, Ediam, Idua, Umana Ndon and other adjoining streets in Eket were been threatened and residents are afraid that as the rains continue, more roads may collapse. Speaking on the collapsed road, former Chairman of Mkpok Village Council, Mr Franklin Udohuyo described the incident as unfortunate saying the failed road started showing signs of deterioration about a year ago. Udohuyo stated that the collapsed road has affected both businesses and the mobility of people in the area, adding that it is one of the major roads accessing five villages around the area.
It was very pathetic the failed road started last year and nothing was done about it until recently when the whole thing collapsed. “If they followed the previous report, it wouldn’t have been to this level but there was negligence on the side of the state government. “I don’t know how the contractors actually handled the job, I don’t know how the children at Mkpok Primary School will be going to school,” he lamented.
The former council boss revealed that the contractor commissioned by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to construct the road failed to follow the contract specification for the work, adding that the job was done without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). “The workers came and started bulldozing the whole thing. The road was deeper below the culvert and there was nowhere flood water could have passed through it. “Eventually when it started raining, the flood couldn’t find its way out and the flood water had to go under the culvert, passing under it. It has been like that until recently the road collapsed,” he said. Also speaking, Mrs Uchechi Boniface, a provision store seller along the road said she had lost so much money since the road failed on July 9. She described the road failure as a big challenge to her business and appealed to the state government to urgently repair the road for her business to thrive. “I am not making big sales due to the failed road. The majority of my customers live across the other side of the road. If I made sales of N100, 000 before in two weeks, now I cannot make even up to N20, 000. I have experienced a big loss because of the bad road,” she said.
Boniface decried the incessant pot-hole reddened roads across Eket Local Government Area of the state, saying the bad portions of the roads posed dangers to inhabitants and road users in the affected parts of Eket and its environs. Speaking on the issue, the National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers (NISafetyE), Mr Akaniyene Ekong said he had warned the relevant government agency of the impending gully erosion disaster in many parts of Eket. “NISafetyE saw it coming and notified the government when we went to the location. The first thing we did was to put physical signage on the road to alert passersby, pedestrians and drivers in Eket. “The problem started when canals were opened and the velocity the flood increased due to bad contractor. “That actually washed off the embankment and the solid layers would be washed off and eventually curved in,” he explained.
Ekong stated that the idea of opening up waterways to prevent flooding was a good intention but then, the right measures were not put in place. He stated that the flood has destroyed houses and property worth millions of naira but no life was lost, adding that the road had caused untold hardship to the people of Eket and its environs. “We can imagine the hardship pupils of the nearby school are going through because of the failed road in Mkpok axis. The road should be closed for now while remedial measures are put in place,” Ekong said.