By Emmanuel Unah and Onem Bassey
Controversy is currently raging over the planned extension of the East West road which runs from Delta through Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States and with the approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan of the request made by former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, would terminate in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The construction of the road which is under the purview of Ministry Of Niger Delta currently manned by a Cross Riverian, Pastor Usani Usani, is in the 2016 budget and when signed by President Mohammadu Buhari, work is supposed to commence on the Oron – Calabar axis of the road which is a 30.7 kilometre bridge stretching from Oron to Calabar.
Controversy is now brewing following revelations by a whistle blower, Dr Effiong Edunam, the President General of the Oron Union World Wide that the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Otu V is trying to divert the direction of the bridge which is Oron to Afokang to Ikon Eto, his domain.
According to Edunam, the Obong is “desperate” to have the direction of the bridge changed from Calabar South to Ikon Eto citing several monuments which might be destroyed if the road passes through Calabar South.
“He has been using Usani Usani, Oyo Ita, the Head of Service, Edet Amana to have the course of the Road changed.” Edunam alleges.
Also rising from a stakeholders meeting chaired by the President – General of Oron Union, Dr. Effiong Edunam, the Union resolved in a motion moved by Barrister Efiong Oboho and seconded by Dr. Emmanuel Ating, that the original design of the road which was undertaken by SIRAJ Consultants and approved by the Federal Government since 2014; that the bridge will take off from Oron beach to Calabar South, must not be altered.
Dr. Effiong while speaking, informed the meeting which comprised of traditional rulers, youths, women, etc of attempts by certain persons in Oron and Cross River to frustrate the Federal Government’s attempt to construct a bridge across Oron River to Calabar South.
Also speaking, Chief Okon Osung took time to educate the stakeholders on options available to the authorities, noting that the economic benefits of having the East West road across Oron town cannot be over emphasized.
He added that “the opposition of the Obong of Calabar to the original design was simply based on the quest of the Efiks to open up certain parts of Calabar to the detriment of Oron which has been longing for this opportunity over the years.”
Reacting to the planned diversion, the Muri Munene, Effiong Mbukpa, the Paramount Rule of Calabar South said “diversion of road from Afokang in Calabar South to Ikon Eto Adiabo in Calabar North will deprive the people of Calabar South of many benefits.
“We think that the road will help open up our community to the outside world. If it stops in Calabar South, people can take from Anantigha in the extreme instead of going to Calabar Road instead of Adiabo to get out of Calabar. We insist on the original design of the road being maintained”.
On whether he has spoken with the Obong of Calabar, he said “I have not spoken with His Eminence, the Obong of Calabar. I don’t intend to do so because it is still in the realm of rumor. Long before now, we were given forms to fill so that during the process of constructing the East-West Road through here (Calabar South), lands and properties destroyed would be compensated.
“We have since engaged estate surveyors to do the job. Suddenly, we are very surprised to learn that the road is to be diverted to Adiabo in Calabar Municipality, another local government area. We think that it is very unfair. The people who conceived the bridge/road were not foolish to decide that it should terminate in Calabar South.
“I will not talk to him on this matter. If it is true he has a hand in this string rumor, let his conscience judge him. But I have mentioned this to the Minister of Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Usani and the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade when he visited my domain during his campaign tour. At that time he said he was not aware but that he would look into it.
“I have robust confidence that the FG will not terminate the road in Akwa Ibom State. I also have the confidence that Usani will not allow the original design of the road to be twisted. I cannot vouch that the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita who is from Adiabo is not aware of the plan to divert the road. But I am sure she wouldn’t want to do a thing of the sort.”
Several calls and messages to the gsm phone of the Obong of Calabar were not answered.
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