Joe Effiong, Uyo
About seven years ago, Use Ikot Amama was a good example of how development should permeate rural areas. Every community wanted to be like it.
They were four in that class: Etebi-Enwang Road, Ekim Itam-Uyo-Ekom Iman Road; Abak-Etim Ekpo Uwukem Road, and Nung Udoe Itak-Okoita-Use Ikot Amama Road. Of all of them, Use Ikot Amama was the most popular development refrain. Unfortunately, while the first two were completed, and work in progress in the third, Use Ikot Amana, remains comatose, abandoned and rejected and its natives confused, impoverished.
And as if Use Ikot Amama was cursed, the road started from Nung Udoe Itak through Okoita had been well constructed. But just as it was about to enter Use Ikot Amama, construction stopped. When our correspondent visited the community, he met an area which could function as the food basket of the state and nation, but which has cocooned the people to penury.
It was learnt that the community sent a Save-Our-Soul (SOS) to Governor Udom Emmanuel to re-award the road project to alleviate the sufferings of the people but received no response so far. The village head, Eteidung Mbakara Sampson Willie, lamented: “We have made several attempts to draw government attention to the deplorable condition of the road but to no avail because we don’t have anybody in government to fight for us.
“The last time they attempted to construct the road was during the tenure of Godswill Akpabio but the road was abandoned. The Commissioner for Works has not visited this community to see the extent of deplorable condition of the road since it was abandoned by the previous administration in the state.
“No compensation was paid for all the economic trees and properties destroyed preparatory to the construction of the road as was done in some other parts of the state where roads were actually constructed. Everything that they had destroyed in this community such as economic trees, houses, stores and shops situated on the roadsides, none has been compensated for up till today. All those things were wasted thus making the people even poorer than before they came to work on the road.”
He said despite the closeness of the community to Arochukwu in Abia State, government refused to recognise the fact that the road could boost the economy through sales of farm produce since the area is known for farming. He said the community could not sell their farm produce such as okro, fish, cocoa, maize, palm oil and kernel produced in the area in commercial quantities:
“It is God that has brought you today to see our women scattering okro on the road. We don’t know what to do with the produce here. People come from Oron, Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Cross River State to buy okro. It is not only okro that we have here. We have swamp rice. People usually come with foreigners seeking land to cultivate rice. We have shown them more than 100 hectares of land but they left never to come back because of bad road.
“We have oil palm plantation that is why we have many local oil mills. We have granite, which people have been quarrying many years before we were born and it will remain like that till the next three generations.
“But we don’t have any help. All those wealth are sold cheap because of lack of road. Even the fishes from our river are wasted because no buyer would want to come here and damage his vehicle just to buy these items.”
Daily Sun went to the community on “okro market day.” Mrs. Ekaette Etim, an okro farmer: “See the quantity of okro that people are pricing at N2000 here. Farming in Use Ikot Amama has become a thing of shame. If we have good roads, it wouldn’t be like that.
“My appeal to government is that this road should be constructed. When we have a good road, there would be good customers to buy our farm produce. If we were to farm in a place like Ibesikpo or Nsit Ubium where there are good roads, this okro wouldn’t have been a thing of shame as it is at the moment.
“They have been screaming in the media that they have constructed Use Iko Amama Road. It is a lie; they never even rehabilitated our road not to talk of reconstruction. They stopped somewhere. Let them come and complete it.”
There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Use Ikot Amama. Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyangeyen, said at the moment, government was concerned with completing most of the roads which contracts had already been awarded. It would not want to take up fresh ones until about 70 percent of the ongoing road projects are completed.
He wondered why Use Ikot Amama Road was not completed despite the amount of money voted for and drawn on its account: “Let it remain there for the people to see that Use Ikot Amama Road has not been completed. If we had rushed to complete it, people would have said the money had already been paid; that we are only completing the contract already awarded like they said on Uyo Ikot Ekpene Road.
“But I believe that by the time we are done with most of the roads, including the ones we are currently constructing in the same Ibiono through Obot Mme, possibly Use Ikot Amama would come on board. We have to make sure that every local government area has road representation in this administration.”