Judex Okoro, Calabar
Residents and motorists in Calabar have raised the alarm over deplorable condition of roads in the metropolis.
Checks by Daily Sun revealed that there are over 200 potholes on the streets of Calabar South and Calabar Municipality, once noted for its green and clean environment.
The streets mostly affected in Calabar South include Anantiga axis, Ekpo Abasi, Jebbs, Edgerly, Mayne Avenue, Yellow Duke, Orok-Orok, Inyang Edem, Asuquo Abasi, Palm Street, Harcourt, Nelson Mandela and Goldie-Bassey Duke.
For Calabar Municipal, the streets with worst potholes are Queen Duke, Goldie-Watt axis, Mary Slessor (around UNICAL main gate), Ette Agbor, Eastern Higway ByPAss/UNICAL Hotel Raod, Asari Iso, Goodluck Jonathan-By Pass, Parliamentary Extension up to 8-Miles, Murtala Highway and some parts of State Housing Estate.
The checks further revealed that some streets including Jebbs in Calabar South and Ikot-Ishi market axis in Calabar metropolis are no longer motorable as residents walk some distance before they get to where they could pick a taxi. Besides, keke riders have completely boycotted those routes to avoid the numerous potholes.
Some environmentalists have argued that this new system of not continuously maintaining internal roads and allow potholes to develop to the extent that the some streets become death traps has only brought untold hardship to residents, but paints a negative image on the sincerity of the present government to tackle infrastructural decay within the metropolis.
An environmentalist, Emmanuel Effiom, contends that if agencies responsible for road maintenance carry out regular repairs before its gets worst, it cost government less, but if the potholes are allowed to develop into ditches or gully as we see on some streets in Calabar, then it would definitely cost much to repair.
Effiom said allowing these holes further cause more hazards on our streets and can even deny government some substantial revenues as agencies responsible for collection of various rates and levies may not have access just as they would be afraid of attacks by the residents who feel neglected by government.
According to him, “the non-repair of roads is an indication that this present government doesn’t place much value on residents and electorate that voted form him in 2015 and 2019,” adding “as a tourism destination state, the government ought not to allow even a single pothole on out the streets of Calabar since it is the first port of call of any tourist visiting the state.”
Cross River State Lawmakers have in a resolution called on the State Government to urgently commence the rehabilitation of all roads within the Calabar metropolis. The Lawmakers took the resolution following a motion brought before the House by Member
Lamenting the sorry-state of roads within the Calabar metropolis, the Cross River State House of Assembly said one cannot drive even for a kilometer without meeting deep portholes, recalling that Governor Ben Ayade had promise of zero portholes.
The lawmakers, who expressed dissatisfactions while contributing on motion brought before the House by Member representing Boki II State Constituency, Hon. Hilary Bisong, said the motion is a wakeup call on the relevant government agencies to rise up to the challenge of rehabilitating the roads as the situation is negatively affecting the economy of the state.
According to them, the industrialization drive of the state government will be negatively affected if the roads are not repaired.
In separate contributions, Members unanimously condemned the poor State of roads across the State which according to them has led to accidents, loss of lives, high maintenance cost for vehicles, and untold hardship for Commuters amongst others.
After lengthy deliberation, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams, mandated the House Committee on Works and Infrastructure to among others investigate how the road maintenance levy paid by citizens were expended and how the 5% deduction from Local Government funds allegedly remitted to the Road Maintenance Agency was utilised.
Decrying the poor state of roads in Canaan City, the first pioneer vehicle inspection officer in the then South Eastern State, Engr Edim Uwem Ikpeme, said though the state hasn’t got much from federation accounts to be able to maintain federal road, but the little we have the government should try and maintain the roads to make the people have comfort.
Ikpeme said: “It would wrong for agencies of government to ask for road worthiness certificates from drivers when the roads are not worthy in itself.”
Also decrying poor maintenance of streets’ roads, one of the pioneer members of the Special Road Mayors, Dr David Egege, said: “Both inside and outside the town, the roads are in total disrepair. If the roads are safe and well maintained it would bring out the esthetics of the metropolis and in turn attract tourists, but if there are dilapidated as they are now across the city then it drives both business and tourist.
“We are appealing to government to safe life because if the roads are in poor state, as there are now, it would be very difficult to save life; life is very precious. It is good for a young man or woman going out for his or her daily bread to come back safely to meet his family.
For the Chairman, Lorries and Trailers Association of Calabar, Comrade Anietie Ekwere, they are totally frustrated because of bad network of roads within the metropolis and it has made truck owners and drivers to desert Calabar for other states.
Ekwere disclosed that there are no more influx of trucks as trucks from Eastern and Middle Belt part of the country, adding that bad roads have caused much damage to their trucks.
“Most of our members don’t want to return for business in Calabar anymore because nobody wants to invest money in transportation and continue to count loses due to poor road network and lack of maintenance on the part of the government.
“I can tell you that several trucks had fallen on this Parliamentary-Goodluck Jonathan By pass. Sometimes some trucks stop at highway and then we tans-load to those streets especially in Anantiga in Calabar South, thereby making the goods’ owner to incur extra cost to be able to get to the destination. Besides, some the potholes are so deep that it can damage our springs, bow-joints and even shaft. And these cost more money to the drivers to fix.
“This is one of the worst times we are passing through in terms of road infrastructures in the state. Right from the eras of Governor’s Donald Duke and Sen Liyel Imoke we had quality and well-maintained roads, but since 2015, it has been a nightmare for us truck drivers, owners and passengers,” he stated.
A resident of Ikot Ishie Town, Mr Bassey Bassey, described the roads situation in Calabar as “a national shame and embarrassment,” adding that there is hardly any part of the city that can boast of decent motorable roads.
“This terrible state of the roads in Calabar has resulted into untimely deaths of innocent Nigerians through avoidable accidents. The same poor state of roads has resulted in poor productivity of workers as immeasurable man-hours are lost in traffic on daily basis. Our state prides itself as a digital state but we have analogue raods.
“A clear example is between Army junction by Hit FM Radio and Flour mill junction. This stretch of road is so bad that it might take you about 40 minutes to go through Old Odukpani Rd, from Army junction to Flour mill junction, a journey that should take, at most, 10 minutes,’ he explained.
A commercial driver, Asuquo Akpan, said the bad roads in Anatingha are affecting our business as we can no longer drive into some streets especially in Jebbs.
Akpan said: “These bad roads make us to spend money in maintaining our cabs and if you increase fares those task force agents would impound your cars. So we are not making profits except in the night when passengers are in a hurry to go home so we charge indiscriminately.
“We spend money to fuel our cars and spend some hours on the roads because of potholes. We again spend money to change our shock absorbers and bow joints. We are appealing to government to come to our rescue in Calabar South. Else we shall be forced to go off the roads soon.”
Reacting on the poor nature of urban roads, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Christian Ita, said: “It is perennial problem owing to aged infrastructure but the roads get fixed every dry season. So the pot holes will be fixed once the rains let up.”