by crossriverwatch admin
Owing to intractable traffic congestion experienced around the popular Calabar Watt Market in the Cross River State capital, the Imoke administration during the first term in office, in a bid to ease the situation and reduce the spate of fatal accidents at the spot that has taken the lives of several pedestrians attempting to cross the road, decided to construct a pedestrian bridge over the road.
A few years down the line, the bridge has obviously been abandoned by pedestrians for hawkers and homeless children who have effectively taken control.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the bridge, it was discovered that the bridge has been abandoned and due to lack of maintenance, the staircase and railings of the bridge are rusting and wearing out and the bridge is facing the risk of possible collapse if it is not revamped.
The bridge has also been turned to a refuse dump by residents who have piled heaps of debris along the walkway, with hawkers displaying their wares indiscriminately on the bridge while homeless children have also taken residence on the bridge.
Speaking with CrossRiverWatch, Mr. Otobo Daniel who is a shop owner in the market said, “It has been over 7months since I noticed that people have started disposing refuse at the foot bridge.”
Another trader who sells tomatoes, pepper, onion and other spices by the bridge, who preferred to be simply referred to as Mallam said “The reason why I display my goods there most of the time is because I noticed that people don’t use the walk over any more because of its poor and dirty state.”
On climbing the staircase from its Watt market entrance the odor that will greet you is one that can easily make you throw up, on reaching the end of the stair case before turning left to join the aisle that will lead you across is a heap of refuse and mountains of human faeces with very offensive stench.
In this highly unhealthy environment, CrossRiverWatch met two homeless children eating happily.
Master Felix Ekeng Henshaw said “I left home because after my Mum passed on my dad married a new wife who said she doesn’t need me at home and I have nowhere else to go other than the streets. December will make it two years since the streets became my home.”
He revealed that he is a graduate of Sacred Heart Primary School, Egerton Calabar South, adding that he is twelve years old and he has not heard from his father since he left home.
His friend Joshua Daniel Etim who he met few weeks after he arrived the streets told CrossRiverWatch that “I was staying with my mother who was divorced by my father; she sent me and my brother away from home because my elder brother stole her One Thousand Naira.
“My mum’s address is No. 7 Egerton Street Calabar South, I am 11 years and for a long time I haven’t seen my elder brother but I know he is within Watt market or Etim Edet Park.”
Joshua and Felix further disclosed that they have been sleeping at Etim Edet Park, Watt market but at times anywhere event keeps them till night and that they usually take their nap on the bridge.
Felix revealed that their means of livelihood is by sweeping shops, disposing refuse, running errands and helping to carry luggage for shoppers.
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