The ecstasy and convenience of journeying through Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Highway used to be a pleasant voyage for road users in time past.
The polished macamised road snaking through the riverine and swampy communities of the then Cross River State emptied into then Mainland now Akwa Ibom State.
On completion, the late Uko Akpan, a musical icon hallowed the exquisiteness of the road. In fact, most taxi cab drivers who plied Uyo-Calabar route then hollered to passengers ‘’Uyo by air! Uyo by air!’’ and it took them just 45 minutes to land the legendary Canaan city.
Over the years, the once thoroughfare has become deplorable and a big nightmare to many commuters but a death trap to a few unsuspecting but unfortunate ones plying the 100 kilometres stretch of the highway. And commuters have different narratives on the woes they are experiencing on the road.
This is the reason Straightnews happily welcomes the approval of N79.649 billion by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the completion of the dualisation of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Highway. This is a major but remedial step to deliver the commuters from the looming shadow of death posed by the the deplorable nature of the highway.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who told newsmen last Wednesday said: “This will help complete the dualisation gaps between the one awarded to Julius Berger and the section awarded to CCECC.
”When this is completed, motorists in that area will have an option of the dual carriageway instead of the existing single carriageway.’’
True that the contract has been awarded, we want to call on the federal government to timely release funds to, and properly supervise contractors, to ensuring speedy completion of the project before the expiration of 2023.
We want to call on the Federal Ministry of Works to embark on aggressive supervision to check the contractors trying to cut corners to suit their whims and caprices in the overall good of the populace.
While the job is ongoing, we encourage road users to show understanding and to cooperate with the contractors in an effort to build and hand over to government at a specified time.
Youths of the host communities are hereby warned to refrain from making selfish and meaningless demands in the form of compensation that could stall the progress of the work, but must do everything possible to assist the contractors and ministry’s officials to work and hand over the project to government on time.
Even the royal father fathers must not stoop low by asking the contractors to buy them certain items to offer sacrifice to appease angry gods on the road passing through their areas.
Road is one of the major dividends of democracy to the electorate. So, the government must not deny them the privilege of enjoying good but motorable road.
There is no doubt that the highway on completion will serve as a soothing balm to many commuters who pay high transport fares and the end users who pay exorbitantly for goods and services due to the collapsed road.