BEVERLY HILLS, April 26, (THEWILL) – Some communities in Itu local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State are gradually becoming physically separated from their neighbours in other parts of the state due to the total collapse of access roads to the Calabar/Itu Expressway.
The absence of access roads has forced motorists to park their vehicles at some distance from the affected communities and trek to their destinations through footpaths created to link the Calabar/Itu Expressway, which is also in dire need of rehabilitation.
As if to compound the situation, a large failed portion at the Enen Atai end of the expressway has on impact opened up a deep gully at the main entrances to Ikot Akpan and Adang communities,
Investigation by our reporter shows that residents of the affected communities expressed the fear that if nothing is urgently done to restore the collapsed access roads, they might be totally cut off from neighbouring communities.
The village head of Adang, Chief Akpan Akpa Udosen, who gave our reporter a tour of the community, said that for four years not one member of the community had been able to travel to the headquarters of the LGA at Mbak Atai for want of a link road.
Udosen blamed this on erosion, which had cut the link road into two, thus isolating the people and preventing them from interacting with the residents of neighbouring communities.
He said the damage caused by erosion had left the people without a major source of livelihood in the area, which was exploiting of laterite for building purposes.
The situation, Usen added, had seriously affected power supply to consumers in Adang as electric poles from the city centre were pulled down.
He said, “The situation is sad. We have not had power supply for a long time now. For the past two years, my subjects and I have been going out of the village on foot through bush paths.
“A journey of five minutes now lasts an hour. We have to go cross a stream and access the main road through Enen Atai or climb a hill to Ikot Akpan, depending on the direction we are heading to.”
The village head said the condition of living of the people had become too poor and harsh, thereby making migration inevitable.
Lamenting that a lot of people, especially the youth, had already left the community in search of better prospects elsewhere, he warned that unless something is done to encourage them to stay Adang might become deserted.
“My subjects are migrating and the village is becoming empty. We are cut off from the headquarters of our local government area and only old people are left in the village. No vehicle, not even a bicycle, can enter Adang from the Calabar/Itu Expressway,” Udosen said.
On his part, the Chairman of Adang Itam village council, Mr Ubon Okon Akpan, said the absence of access roads had taken a heavy toll on the health of the people as they were not able to access the nearest health facilities at Nkim and Mbak Atai.
“Many people have died as a result of this. The situation has also rendered many youths jobless and our children are forced to go to school through other villages,” he said, appealing to the Federal Government and the Akwa Ibom State Government to come to the community’s aid.
Akpan also disclosed that the state government donated a transformer to the community since 2014, but the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company had yet to install it, thereby keeping the residents in “perpetual” darkness.
Similar complaints re-echoed in Ikot Akpan Itam. A spokesman of the community, Mr Ibanga Etuk, told our reporter that despite visits by Federal and State officials to the erosion site, nothing had changed and the residents were still suffering untold hardship due to lack of access to neighbouring communities for trade, even farming.
Etuk said, “I wonder why the people of Ikot Akpan should be so neglected, in spite of our support for the current government in the state.
“We were so optimistic when the Executive Chairman of Itu Local Government Area, Hon. Etetim Onuk, paid us a visit. We thought a new access road would be built for us. We are still begging him to expedite action in that direction.”