By Joseph Kingston, CalabarDespite last year’s intervention by the Cross River State government on the Calabar-Akpabuyo- Ikang road which links Nigeria with Cameroon, commuters have continued to experience nightmare on the Atimbo axis of the road.
Recall that the entire stretch of the road, said to be the federal government road, had caused many auto crashes with many deaths recorded before the Cross River State government hurriedly intervened.
But a particular spot close to the Navy barracks at Atimbo, nick-named ‘Atimbo deep seaport’ has defied solution as it continues to expand wide and deep, creating gullies on either side.
Many commuters, who spoke to our reporter, expressed disappointment that both the state and federal governments would allow such an important road to remain a challenge despite huge amount paid as toll by the cement manufacturer, Lafarge, who uses the road to evacuate their cement product.
Our reporter observed that passengers, except drivers, would have to disembark from every vehicle, walk through a muddy busy path across the bad spot to the other end of the road before the now empty vehicles they boarded would pick them to their destination, that is, after painstakingly navigating the collapsed spot.
Despite the pains commuters are passing through navigating the spot, men of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Police, Vehicle Inspection Officers, VIOs amongst others, were seen lined up to collect what a commuter said was a ‘toll gate fee for making use of the Atimbo deep seaport.’ This, they say, was constituting another nuisance.
A commuter, who lamented the pains he goes through on the road, said “we suffer here at this bad spot to pass. When you cross over, you witness assorted types of road blocks. The experience is very painful. I use this road at least three times a day, and then FRSC, Police (even with DPO), VIO are waiting 200 metres apart to collect toll from cars with all types of silly reasons. It is pathetic.”
Also speaking, a truck driver, who gave his name as Audu told this writer: “every truck that leaves Lafarge pays N12, 800 to the state government. We are talking about a minimum of 200 trucks per day which adds up to a lot of money and if your state government cannot fix this road with the little contribution we are making then this unfortunate situation will continue to rub off on all of us.”
However, the state government has promised to handle the situation as soon as practicable. Mr. Christian Ita, the chief press secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, said incessant rainfalls in Calabar this year was contributing to the ugly situation.
“If you look around, you will see that government has begun the rehabilitation of roads in the state and even though the Atimbo road is a federal road, the state government, which fixed it last year, will still fix it again this year. It is so unfortunate that the rains this year have been something else, but government will respond please,” he said.
Ita explained that the levy paid by Lafarge was not used for the maintenance of the bad Atimbo road alone but other roads as well, including the Goodluck Jonathan bye-pass which the trucks also use.
He assured that before the end of the year, the nightmare spot would be a thing of the past.