At the last count, the government of Akwa Ibom state, under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel, has completed no fewer than 1,700 kilometres of roads and 35 bridges across the urban and rural areas of the state. And for this reason, the governor in his 2018 Democracy Day message to his people affirmed that he has kept his electoral promise to make the state an industrial hub in the country.
Of course, nobody can take this right from him because having used the scarce resources within his disposal to achieve such feat within a little over three years, he’s justified to say so. Gov. Emmanuel does not mince words and this explains why his people refer to him as a promise keeper. He does what he promised he would do.
On assumption of office in 2015, Gov. Emmanuel was alarmed by the rate of rural-urban migration of youths in the state. He recognised the fact that the migration was largely due to lack of basic amenities in the rural areas. To stem the tide, he resolved to open-up the state by embarking on construction of road networks. His aim was also to encourage economic activities across the state as well as to attract investors as part of his economic agenda. As a roadmap, the mission and goals of his administration can be summarized under the five-point agenda namely, job creation, poverty alleviation, wealth creation, economic and political inclusion; and infrastructural consolidation and expansion.
In line with his desire to turn things around, the governor was quick to observe that good road network plays a crucial role in economic development of any state as it facilitates transport and movement of people, goods, and services from one area to another. Putting it another way, simply getting people connected is a great part of what economic growth is all about. His policy thrust is premised on the notion that there is a very strong positive correlation between a state’s economic development and the quality of its road network. Roads, according to his development plan, are vital to any development agenda.
In fairness to Gov. Emmanuel, the harsh economic crunch of the last three years notwithstanding, he has performed creditably well and even beyond expectations of the people. At some point, there were about 50 on-going road projects in the state, some of which have now been completed. A list of completed and on-going projects being executed by the State Ministry of Works indicates that dualisation of 29 km Etinan – Ndon Eyo road with two cable bridges is on-going. Also being dualised are the 25 km Uyo – Ikot Epkene road being constructed by Julius Berger.
Other roads that are currently being dualised are the 14.5 km Uyo/Airport Junction – Okopedi Okobo Road, awarded to Aquatix Construction Limited; the 10.5km Okopedi – Oron Road by East – West Road (phase 11). Similarly, in Eket, the construction and remodeling of selected roads, strategic roundabouts/junctions are on-going within the metropolis. The contract, which was awarded to Nigerpet Structures Limited, is in two phases (1.6km dualised and 2.2km expanded carriageway).
The Emmanuel administration is set to re-award contract for the construction of 55.1km Ibaka Super Highway with three spurs under the Alternative Project Funding Approach. The project, which was stalled is located in the Eket, Ibeno, Esit Eket Mbo axis. Also in the Eket/Ibeno axis is the Eket – Ibeno Road project that was awarded to CCECC Nigeria Limited. The project has been completed. The construction company is also handling the dualisation of the 23.4km Eket – Etinan road with three bridges.
Another project that was stalled and is about to be re-awarded is the dualisation of 9.5km Ring Road 111 in Aka Nung Udoe road, which was awarded to Quemex Nigeria Limited. Other on-going road projects are the construction of the Ndon Eyo – Ikot Akpatek – Odio road; construction of road around the state secretariat Annex and Believers Assembly, Mbiabong Etoi Uyo; construction of 14.1km Odoro Ikpe – Ikpe Ikot – Obotme – Arochukwu road with 110m bridge through Alternative Project Funding Approach; construction of 6.41km Nto Edino – Ekwere azu road with two 45 metres span bridges in Obot Akara Local Government Area; construction of 23.25km Ikot Ekaide – Ikot Okoro Ikot Ibritam road in Oruk Anam Local Government Area; as well as construction of 18.95km Ikot Ibritam – Ekeffe – Ikot Akpan Afaha road.
Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, Commissioner for Works in the state, according to media reports, had declared that over a period of three years, the Emmanuel administration had not only achieved its dream of urbanising every rural community in the state, but had also constructed more roads than the Federal Government. No doubt, the government has more than enough to justify the claim. For instance, several of the road projects have been completed and commissioned. Some of the projects are the 1.1 km Information Drive, Uyo; 5km Mkpok – Okat road, Onna; and 3.5km Ikot Udom road with a bridge at Ibiono. Others are Mainland Avenue, Bassey Lane, Effiat Street, Uya Oro road, Post Office road in Oron 6.6 km; and the first phase of 12.742km Awa Iman –Asong-Ikot Edim–Ikot Emem road with two bridges.
Also completed are 1.5km Nsikak Eduok – Tropicana outfall drain in Uyo, constructed by Julius Berger; the 6.0km Idiaba – Nda Nsit – Ikot Abasi (Nung Udoe) road in Nsit Atai Local Government Area of the state, a single carriage way executed by Cossel Construction Company Nigeria Limited; construction of 5.0 km Ikot Usop – Ikot Edeghe – Ikot Ekpuk road with a 30-metre bridge in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, as well as the first phase of the 13km Ikot Ebiere – Ikot Edor – Ikot Iko Ibom – Okom road in addition to the Ukpana – Akpabom – Ikwe road in Onna and Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.
Other completed road projects are the first phase of 6.3km emergency works in the completion of the Oron urban road while the second phase is ongoing; the construction of 3.5km Ikot Udom road with 15 metres span bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of the state, a single carriage way, which was awarded to Verini Construction Company Limited; and the construction of 5.0 km Mkpok Okat Road in Onna, a single carriage way which was awarded to Hensek Integrated Services Limited.
The construction of 4.6km School of Arts and Science Road, Nung Ukim, a single carriage way in Ikono Local government Area of the state, which was also executed by Hensek Integrated Services Limited, has also been completed.
From available records, a large number of road projects are still on-going. Among the projects are the construction of the 6.1km Atan Offot road in Uyo, which is being executed by Nigturks Civil Technologies Limited; construction of 9.5 km Ikot Ebekpo – Ikot Ebidang road with a jetty; re-modelling/Rehabilitation of selected roads, strategic junctions and roundabouts within the state capital. The project, which is being handled by Nigerpet Structures Limited has expanded carriage with special features.
In Okobo/Oron, work is on-going on the emergency rehabilitation of Okopedi road by Community Health Centre through Oti – Oron in Okobo Local Government Area. Also on-going are the construction of gully erosion control facilities at Oron/Isangedighi road within Oron urban; and the construction of Abak – Nsekhe – Ikot Akpa Nkuk – Ikot Etim – Ikot Ikara (Phase 111 section A) Ikot Ikara to Ikot Ibritam, among several others.
At the Centre of this construction site, which is Akwa Ibom State, are the local contractors. The Emmanuel-led administration is known for judicious use of local contractors in road construction and elimination of middlemen in the payment of compensation to property owners. Answering questions from reporters recently on why the state was patronizing indigenous contractors, Akparawa Inyang-Eyen said “we are effectively using indigenous contractors because I came and saw that they were discriminated against and the governor instructed us to use them to prove a point.”
No doubt, the Commissioner has a thousand and one reasons to engage local contractors in road construction. “I would personally like to patronize them to discourage capital flight and have them re-invest their profits into our communities to help government develop the state,” he said adding “If you ask me, I would tell you they do better jobs than others and they also have the interest of the people at heart.”
Another unique quality that sets Emmanuel’s administration apart is its devotion and attention to details in all road projects in the state. “The reasons roads don’t last in this tropical rainforest belt is because of lack of side drainage. Under Gov. Emmanuel even the roads in the rural areas have drains on both sides. After every rainfall, there should be a process of the rain water going through the drainage channels to outfall drains for water to discharge,” Inyang-Eyen said.
Gov. Emmanuel has touched every nook and cranny of the state as far as infrastructural development is concerned. Definitely, it’s believed that this will speak for him in the days ahead. Attesting to this fact, Commissioner for Works, said “One good thing today is that when Emmanuel goes for campaign in every community to scout for votes, he will have projects to show the people in each community.”
It is estimated that by the time Governor Udom Emmanuel completes his first term in office, movement of people, goods and services across the state would become a delight. For investors, local and foreign, Akwa Ibom is also becoming a choice destination.
Wilson writes from Lagos.