The need to fix Aba- Ikot-Ekpene Road
Aba- Ikot-Ekpene Road is unarguably strategic to the economy of
Abia State. The road links Aba, the economic heartbeat of the state
to Akwa Ibom ancd Cross Rivers State and extends to the
neighbouring Central African country, Cameroon .
Traders from these neighbouring states form buck of the businessmen
that patronise various businesses in the commercial city. Also
during the heydays of made-in Aba shoes, markets such as Cameroon
and Togo were captured.
To describe the Aba- Ikot- Ekpene road as the proverbial ” goose that
lays the golden egg” may not be out of place. Unfortunately, to say that
the road, especially the Abia axis of the road is in a deplorable
condition is an understatement. The road is a disaster begging for
The road has been roundly neglected by previous administrations of
the federal government. The road project was reportedly awarded
in 2009 to Brent Investment Ltd, by the late President Umaru
Yar'Adua's administration at the cost of N2.9 billion with a
completion period of 20 months; the contract was meant to
reconstruct the failed section of the highway.
It has been alleged that inadequate budgetary provisions in the
past years has been responsible for the delay and the gradual
failure of the road hampering economic activities in the commercial
city of Aba and other cities in the South-east.
For example, the federal government did not make budgetary
provisions for Aba-Ikot Ekpene road in 2013 budget, and so the
contractor did not do much in terms of coverage and project
completion. Also, the 2014 budget which was tagged all inclusive
with a provision of N120 billion for the Federal Ministry of
Works for capital projects could not proffer the solution.
The deplorable state of the road is exerting serious negative
impact both on the Abia economy and citizens of Aba, especially
those communities located on the fringes of this federal highway
such as Alaoji, Ntigha, Umuafukwu, Ohanze, Umuokpo, and Onicha
Ngwa, just to mention but few.
These communities are mostly agrarian communities and depend,
to a greater extent, their farm produce for a living. For these
communities to access Aba, which is their nearest commercial
city, is akin to the proverbial “camel passing through the eye
of the needle”. For them to access the town, they swim like
amphibians and engage in a more tortuous odyssey than that of
the “Magi” in T.S Elliot’s “The Journey of Magi”.
To compound the situation, a sister road network, Opobo Road,
linking Aba and some parts of Ukwa with some communities in
Akwa Ibom down to Uyo is also in a deplorable state. The road
is characterised by some failed portions which are menacingly
threatening to cut off these areas.
Thank God, all hope is not lost, and despite how dark the
cloud is, there is always a “silver linen”.Governor Okezie
Ikpeazu has on different occasions pronounced some intended
interventions on the road .He said that he has entered into
discussions with his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Governor Emmanuel
Udom for some interventions on the road. The second level of
intervention is the proposed by-pass that will cut through
Ururuka Road and burst at a point around Onicha ngwa, along
the same Aba-Ikot Ekpene Road.
The AfDB team was accompanied by another team from the
Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja and had on the spot
assessments of Aba- Port- Harcourt and Ikot- Ekpene roads
.The inspection tour offered them the opportunity of first
hand information of the level of decay of the roads and the
trauma and suffering of the residents and travelers in and
around these two key roads .AfDB is currently doing the
technical analysis and studies of the roads before releasing
funds for repairs of the roads. The visit has offered new
hopes that these roads would be fixed.
While Gov. Ikpeazu should be commended for his infrastructural
revolution in Aba, there is a passionate appeal to the federal
government for urgent intervention on the federal lying on the
fringes of Aba.
Road infrastructure is very important to the people of Aba
because apart from the fact that the city is the commercial
nerve centre of the state, it is fast assuming the hub of Small
and Medium Scale Enterprises of the country.
Ukegbu, a public policy analyst and communication strategist, writes from
Umuahia, Abia State.
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