Dictionary.Com defines a Turnpike as a “high-speed highway, especially one maintained by tolls.’’ It is also known as a toll road or toll way, operated as a public or private roadway for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for passage.
According to Wikipedia, Turnpikes: have existed for at least the last 2,700 years, as tolls had to be paid by travellers using the Susa–Babylon highway under the regime of Ashurbanipal, who reigned in the 7th century BC.
We are further informed that, ‘’In India, before the 4th century BC, the Arthasastra recorded the use of tolls.
Germanic tribes charged tolls to travellers across mountain passes. Tolls were used in the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries.’’
The Press Release by the Cross River Government about the new highway, states as follows:
“…Buhari who is coming to carry out the ground breaking ceremony of the N700Billion road stretching the length of 260 kilometers from Calabar to Gakem, Bekwarra and to the famous Obudu Ranch Resort. The Funding architecture is based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) with 500Million Euros tabled by Broad Spectrum.
“The 260 Super Highway which will have six lanes will have some very unique features including being the first with fibre cable, first with unlimited internet all the way and evacuation corridor to northern Nigeria,
“First with tunnel road, satellite antenna, first with no hill, valley and with street lights stretching 260 kilometers and with super strength apart from being an evacuation corridor to northern Nigeria.
“The super highway when completed will have sub highway leading to all local government headquarters in the state, and will have fuelling stations and motels reaching 10 kilometers on both sides of the highway. Speed control cameras and ambulance will also patrol 24 hours on the road.’’
The main thrust is that the “Super Highway” will be tolled. Therefore, the new road will be a Turnpike – Ben Ayade Turnpike.
Governor Ben Ayade’s Signature Projects:
A wise man once said that we are usually given a bag of tools at birth. As we venture into the world, it would befit each of us to either build a stepping stone or a stumbling block.
The same can be said of an elected official, he is usually faced with the choice of justifying the mandate or otherwise. While, in this case, as Governor Ben Ayade strives to justify his mandate, the least that we can do, at this early stage, is to give him a chance or hear him out – even when our patience starts wearing thin.
Governor Ayade picked the Deep Seaport Project as his second Signature Project. He has set goals and is working assiduously to achieve them.
He had said: “We refuse to steer the middle course in our struggle for liberation from the fetters of lack, limitations and backwardness, but to explore our ingenuity to the limits and establish milestones to be visited by generations.”
His determination is intriguing and encouraging. I support the idea of having Signature Projects – the ones that will outlive our generation and not those that will be eviscerated by the eccentricities of successive governments.
Our past is fundamental to our future survival. We once had the following industries that became moribund and were eventually cannibalised and sold out; Calven ply, Calabar; Fruit Juice, Odukpani; Salt Processing Industry, Okpoma, Yala; Polyrub and Plastics Industry, Akamkpa; Durafoam, Ikom; CRS Garri Industry, Obubra; Obudu Meat Processing Industry, Obudu; and diverse Agricultural Projects, among others. Chief Steve Agba would be turning in his grave now – God Bless his soul.
We also witnessed some projects that were abandoned since 2007. To this end, any measure by the Cross River State government that seeks to create projects that would assist in stemming the escalating unemployment in the state, should be supported.
A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL: CONCLUSION
A precursory look at the present scenario would reveal the following: the Calabar – Ikom road that was constructed by Reynolds, Brezzina, Brown (RBB) in 1973, is no more motorable and passable (like all other inter-city roads); there is paucity of funds in Cross River State at the moment, there are so many strategic and vital projects that are contending for the limited resources and Governor Ayade is bent on completing his chosen Signature/Legacy projects, despite some apprehension and scepticism and trepidation in the polity – He has chosen a hard road to travel.
I wish to end my axiomatic piece with a part of the lyrics of the song ‘A Hard Road to Travel’ by Jimmy Cliff. It goes thus:
I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop
My faith will see, see me through.
Governor Ayade’s mind is made up and he can’t turn back and he has faith in what he is doing presently.
He also has the mandate to lead the state for the next four years and has shown the determination to chart a different course by courting and securing the support of President Mohammadu Buhari.
It is my prayer that President Buhari; would also authorize the addition of two extra lanes and train lines at the behest of the Federal Government.
We cannot really foretell the future, but we owe him that ‘’benefit of doubt’’ – to give him the chance to build his stumbling block or our stepping stone.
My take, therefore, is that Ben Ayade Turnpike – should be given a chance.
Orok Otu Duke
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