Angry youths in six Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State have threatened to embark on a massive protest following the abandonment of 55.1 km Superhighway project which runs through their communities.
The Superhighway that spanned through Ibeno, Eket, Esit Eket, Mbo and Urue Offong Oruko Local Government Areas of the state was initiated by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Investigations revealed that the project was awarded to Ebla Construction Ltd under Public-Private Partnership ( PPP) arrangement but the vendor later abandoned the site after spending N700m without the state government providing her contributory counterpart funds.
When correspondents visited the project site, the Ibeno Monitoring Team Chairman, Mr Kingsley Udoh said youths of the affected communities would mobilize themselves for protest to remind Governor Udom Emmanuel about the abandoned Superhighway project.
According to him, “If government does not complete this project, we will protest. When the Superhighway project was awarded to our area,we were happy. Right now, we are not happy. Ibeno people are not happy especially the youths. We are very angry. We are feeling bad.
“Presently, the Superhighway is abandoned. Please we are sad, take the message to the governor. We are not happy anymore.
“When we come out from the community to this junction, and we turn our eyes to see that the job is abandoned, we feel sad. Many people lost their houses and lands to government without compensation, just to ensure we have development. Unfortunately, this project has been abandoned.”
But, the state Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyangeyen blamed the federal government for the delay in the construction of the 12-lane Ibom Super Highway as it failed to approve the construction of Ibom Deep Seaport for the state.
Inyangeyen disclosed this in Uyo, on Tuesday while reacting to claims by the irate youths from the project host communities that the project which was flagged off in 2017 had been abandoned since 2018.
He explained that the state government decided to slow down after 15 out of 55.1 kilometers of the road had been done when it observed the refusal of the Federal Government to give approval for the construction of the Ibom Deep Seaport as the road was initiated for the Seaport operations and the proposed Ibom Industrial city.
His words, “The Ibom Super Highway project did not stop in 2018. The funding of the project stopped in 2019. It was when we observed the reluctance of the federal government to give us the necessary approval for Ibom Deep Seaport we decided to slow down.”
“The state Government believed it was more critical for us to persuade the Federal government and get approval for the construction of the deep Seaport first. This is because if we don’t build the deep Seaport the 55.1kilometer Super Highway is not economically viable to be sustained
“But it is only when the seaport approval is in our hand that we can be sure of doing the road. So our concentration now is on how to get all the approvals promised by the Federal government. If the deep seaport is not there, we don’t need the road.
“The reason for initiating the 12-lane Super Highway is primarily for us to create access to the deep seaport, and the Ibom Industrial city and avert congestion. It is not meant for general purpose. So the story that the Super Highway has been abandoned is not correct.
“And we have not changed the Elba Construction Company that is handling the road. I have told the contractor to be patient, that the moment we get approval for the deep seaport he will return to site. In fact, Government is even owing him.”