The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, with the aim of improving transportation infrastructure and restoring the nation’s road network, approved NGN169 billion for the rehabilitation of the Calabar-Oban-Ekang Road and nine other roads in 2019.
Commuters and motorists traveling along the Calabar-Oban-Ekang Road are increasingly concerned about its deteriorating condition, particularly from the Millicent filling station around Effio-ette.
The rehabilitation of the 35-year-old Oban-Ekang Road was awarded to Messrs Setraco Nigeria Limited, with a completion date of 48 months and a total sum of over N27 billion. However, less than 20 percent of the contracted amount has been released by the federal government, leading to the contractor abandoning the construction after only a few weeks.
During the contractor’s absence, a bridge connecting two communities along the road in Akamkpa collapsed.
The then Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stated that the rehabilitation of the approximately 60Km Calabar-Oban-Ekang Road (Section 1) would create between 400 and 500 jobs, with 40 percent of the positions reserved for senior Nigerians and 100 percent for intermediate workers.
The deteriorating state of the road, coupled with the collapsed bridge, has been exploited by politicians seeking votes during the 2023 general elections in the state. Candidates from major political parties visited communities along the road, promising rehabilitation if elected.
Economic activities in Akamkpa Local Government Area have been severely impacted by the poor condition of the Calabar-Oban-Ekang Road, as both travelers and peasant farmers struggle to navigate it. Farmers find it challenging to transport their produce, resulting in either selling at low prices or allowing it to perish.
Commuters have expressed their frustration with the road’s state, with one regular traveler, Arira ThankGod, highlighting the impact on businesses and the cost of transportation.
The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to review the contract and increase funding for the project, recognizing the road’s significance as a transport corridor and commercial gateway to the Republic of Cameroon.
The Ministry and an engineer familiar with the project acknowledged that poor funding from the Ministry contributed to the project’s stall. The contractor, Setraco Nigeria Limited, received only N4 billion out of N27.7 billion for the 60 km road. The lack of compensation for communities affected by the project has also caused delays.
Lawrence Peter, speaking on behalf of the executive director of Policy Alert, emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into the reasons behind the project’s abandonment and called for accountability.