FOOD prices have risen astronomically in Akwa Ibom State over the last few months due to the deplorable condition of the Ikot-Ekpene-Calabar Road which has created inflation as farmers struggle to get their produce to market.
Nigeria’s rainy season lasts from April until early November and due to the poor drainage facilities and poor road network, many cities, towns and villages become waterlogged. In rural areas, the situation is worse as whole villages get cut off and farmers are unable to get to their farms because the roads are totally impassable.
Franklin Isong, the chairman of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), pointed out that in Akwa Ibom State, the situation had created inflation. He added that the road had worsened to such an extent that travellers now spend more than six hours for a journey that ordinarily ought to be one hour.
Speaking in Uyo, Mr Isong called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fix the road by mobilising the contractor to site. He lamented the fact that the road, a major highway linking Akwa Ibom with other states, had been neglected by the federal government, leading to some portions being eaten up by deep gullies.
Mr Isong said: “The condition of the road has since worsened and motorists and vehicles break down on a daily basis. Transport fares on the road have quadrupled and travelling on the road has become a nightmare.
“Prices of agricultural produce in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states have skyrocketed on account of the deplorable nature of this very important road. The Ikot-Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Expressway, which is the only link road between Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, has been left to suffer various stages of degradation, which has culminated in its current deplorable state.
“With various segments of the road eaten up by gully erosion, large chunks of the road now constitute death traps to motorists and commuters, leading to loss of many lives. A journey on the road from Uyo to Calabar, which naturally should be accomplished within an hour, now takes up to six or seven hours.
“The cost in terms of man-hours and damage to vehicles is better imagined than experienced. The cost to the economies of Akwa Ibom and Cross River states as well as Nigeria in general is gargantuan.”