Aggrieved members of Ekim Itam community in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have asked Julius Berger Plc to stop construction work on the 19.9km Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene federal road in its axis of the state.
This was as members of the community trooped out yesterday to stage a peaceful protest yesterday, accusing the construction company of pulling down their houses, shops and destroying their sources of livelihood without paying compensation to them.
They also decried rising incidents of flooding in their community caused by the activities of the company, alleging that Julius Berger had been using soldiers to intimidate and stop them from demanding their rights. Members of the community, including the youths, old men and women were said to have gathered in their hundreds at the Ekim Itam Junction carrying placards with various inscriptions, such as ‘No compensation for flood victims, ‘No work for Julius Berger’; ‘Our properties have been destroyed by flood’; ‘Our belongings overtaken by flood’; ‘No payment, No work’; ‘Federal Ministry of Works and Housing restore our sources of Income,’ among others.
However, the Corporate Manager of Julius Berger, Mr. Moses Duku, who spoke with our Correspondent on telephone from Kaduna, said he could not comment on the issues raised by the community. But, he promised to give feedback after a proper briefing by the Uyo Office of the company on the issues raised by the community.
The proprietor of Esty Nodu Petroleum Limited, Mr. Bernard Okon Ekpenyong, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, accused Julius Berger of bringing untold hardship on the community and disrupting their businesses. Ekpenyong said: “The issue is that Julius Berger, which is working on this road opened up drainages that rechanneled water into peoples compounds and destroyed our properties. “I lost over 45,000 litres of petrol; 20,000 litres of AGO and 12,000 litres of kerosene DPK through flood which destroyed our tanks. I also lost properties in my hotel situated not far from here. The hotel has 17-room and the facilities were lost to the flood.