By Iniubong Ubeng
The commissioning of the completed Uyo – Ikot Ekpene road has come and gone but the unnecessary controversy generated by the false assertion that the previous administration of Chief Godswill Akpabio left the road at 20% completion is yet to abate.
Understandably, many Akwa Ibom people who are very familiar with the said road had risen in unison to condemn such barefaced lie as coming from the innermost pit of hell. How can a 25km road that had been dualized from Uyo up to Ikpe Annang junction and another 3km of a single lane done towards Ikot Ekpene had remained at 20% completion?
It has turned out that it was not just about the percentage completion of the road that they lied about, they also tried to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting members of the public on the actual cost that the previous administration had paid the renown construction giant Julius Berger for the construction of the road.
According to a post by a Special Assistant on Media to the Governor, Aniefiok Macaulay who tried unsuccessfully to justify why it took the Udom Emmanuel administration six years to complete the remaining 7km of the road, “Although the sum of N71,359,177,414.89 (Seventy ne Billion, Three hundred and fifty nine million, one hundred and seventy seven thousand, four hundred and fourteen Naira Eighty Nine Kobo) was released for the execution of the project. In spite of various approvals and disbursements, the contractor abandoned the project.” This is nothing but a barefaced lie.
Our checks at the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Finance has shown that the figure bandied about was the actual total cost for the 25 km road project plus flyover which were to be executed in three phases. The actual total payments as at May 29, 2015 was Forty five billion (N45 Billion.)
For the flyover which was to be 1.5km long, piling had already started before Governor Udom Emmanuel came in and cancelled the flyover project, perhaps because Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District does not deserve it under the present administration. We challenge anyone to disprove this with facts and evidence not mere rants. Or are they accusing the same Julius Berger which completed the project of being paid for job not done?
It must be pointed out because of high traffic volumes, standards/specifications on federal roads construction in Akwa Ibom State were raised. For example the stone based layers were raised from 100mm to 200 mm, three layers of asphalt, median span raised to 4 metres, hard shoulders = 1.5 metres x 2 = 3 metres while concrete drains are reinforced with iron rods.
It should also be noted that the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene road alignment has the highest built up area per km in Akwa Ibom State and also the highest number of petrol stationsalong road alignment in Akwa Ibom. It also has the highest traffic volume of over 3000 vehicular traffic per hour.
We know that the present administration is not used to quality road projects. In this same State we have seen roads constructed only to be washed away in the next rainy season. Fortunately Julius Berger cannot compromise standards and engage in shoddy jobs as they would have preferred hence the cry about the cost.
Government is a continuum. The previous administration of Chief Godswill Akpabio inherited several uncompleted and abandoned projects which it completed. The administration also initiated and completed many others. If the Udom Emmanuel administration has completed the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene road, we commend the administration. But they should stop playing politics with projects whether is about the percentage completion or the cost.