Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Federal Government has assured Cross Riverians that the 330 km Calabar – Gakim Highway project would soon be completed.
The Federal Controller of Works in the Ministry of Works and Housing, Bassey Nsentim, who gave the assurance at Akpet I in Cross River while undertaking an inspection of a section of the project alongside officials of the ministry, said the government is committed to completing all sections of the road.
According to Nsentim, the road when completed will bring huge relief and boost the economy of the local communities and improve on their welfare.
He said: “Where we are standing now is Akpet. It’s a portion of Calabar-Ugep-Ikom Road; in fact the whole stretch of the road starts from Calabar and ends in Gakim about 330 km.
“The government has awarded nearly all the sections of the road and they are under construction now. This section is about 92% completed, from here now to Odukpani Junction has just been awarded, this one is about 67km, the one that has been awarded from Akpet here to Odukpani is about 25km. So, from here to Odukpani within one year, we will have a smooth and free ride.
“What we have done so far you can see has brought a lot of relief to this part of the country. You will agree with me, if you have been using this road in the past from here to Akpet will take you like 3 hours before, but for now, it will take you less than one hour.
“We are still working but by the time we finish it down to Odukpani it will take about 45 minutes, so there has been a lot of improvement now, saving in travelling time; a lot of saving in the wear and tear of vehicles; people are making money here. So the road is not just to provide a through fare through the community but a source of economic development and progress for the community”, the federal controller said.
Also speaking, the Director Highway South-South in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Godwin Eke, said the ministry had placed a system of checks and balances to ensure that contractors deliver quality work.
He assured that the government now has a maintenance policy for its roads and building and promised that public infrastructure will no longer face the challenges of poor maintenance.
“The quality is good; you can see in the ministry we have what is called checks and balances; its not just the contractor working, the controller is here with his staff monitoring what is going on and people come from the headquarters from time to time to check on quality so as far as quality and progress of work is concerned, we are ok.
“We have a maintenance problem but last year the Federal Executive Council approved a maintenance outfit; so from now on, we will be maintaining our roads and buildings; and its part of an act now so the maintenance aspect will not be neglected again”, he said.
Some of the residents and farmers in the community commended the government for coming to their aid saying the road project had added value to their lives.
Mary Andem, a native of the community said the project had helped tremendously in boosting their trade as against the challenges they faced before the completion of the Akpet section of the road.
Also speaking, Stella Lazarus Enu, a mother of four from Akpoha, Ebonyi state also commended the government for remembering the community, saying the road project had enhanced access in and out of the community thereby enhancing trade.