From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Niger Delta Activists Forum (NDAF) have vowed to shut Calabar-Itu federal highway if the contractors handling the project failed to return to site within the next 30 days.
Reports have it that the contractors reconstructing Odukpani/Itu/Ikot Ekpene road, Julius Berger, CCECC and Sermatech Nig Ltd are said to have left the site due to no lack of funds to execute the multi-billion project.
The group had two years ago protested against the deplorable state of the road and contracts awarded and nothing was done then.
However, the minister of works had promised that the project would be given priority funding, through the SUKUK bond starting from the year 2020.
And barely two years after, the group again has raised the alarm over the state of the road and delays which have caused undue hardship to motorists and travellers.
Addressing journalists in Calabar on Thursday, the National President of the group, Success Jack, expressed concern at the alleged withdrawal of the contractors from the road and threatened that they have no other option than to shut the road after their days if the contractors fail to return to site.
Jack said Cross River and Akwa Ibom states and Niger Delta are not less important than any other part of the country.
He said: “It is trite to emphasize at this point, that the sufferings, the pains, economic and social woes brought upon our people, by the dysfunctionality of this road is one too many.
“Our people are however disappointed by the fact that, while other projects across the country are being well funded and progressed, this one has virtually remained unattended with huge economic loss and haemorrhage to the people of Cross Rivers State, the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
“We acknowledge that, over this period in review, a lot of work has been done in awarding the balance of the distance to Sermatech Nig Ltd. But Mr President, there are still issues hindering progress and causing a stalemate”, he said.
Speaking further on the failed efforts to work on the road, he said “Sermatech Nig Ltd has mobilized to the road but were stopped from commencing work because compensations for individual properties on the right of way have not been paid.
“Julius Berger and CCECC from our investigation need to be cash-backed to fast track their jobs and open a new leaf in the social and economic life of our people.
“We will be reviewing the situation in the next thirty days, with the inevitable option of shutting down the road once more. For now, we wait while urging that the right things be done and quickly so sir.”
He said the apprehension of the people is growing by the day and communities are getting agitated, businesses are increasingly being unsettled, security of lives and properties are at stake.
Comrade Success Jack called on the President not to fail the people but use the deplorable situation to write his name in gold.
“Our last straw of hope is one your integrity Mr President, please don’t fail us. The paucity of funds complained by the federal government should not be said, only when it comes to critical projects of national importance within the Niger Delta region.
“With barely fifteen months to the 2023 general elections, our hope for the completion of this project is growing thinner. We believe that this situation provides you with a rare opportunity to write your name in gold in the hearts of our people”, he pleaded.
He said the forum will be reviewing the situation in the next thirty days, with the inevitable option of shutting down the road once more if nothing is done.