By Henry Umoru
THE Senate, Tuesday asked the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, order the giant Construction Company, Julius Berger to resume the rehabilitation and dualization of the Calabar – Itu Federal Highway as a matter of economic emergency.
The Senate has also urged the Federal Government to fund the project in a meaningful manner as to accelerate commitment on the part of Julius Berger and ensure speedy completion of the project; and
The Upper Chamber also observed a minute silence in honour of those who have already lost their lives in the Ocean pathway of Calabar and Oron.
Resolutions of the Senate Tuesday were sequel to a motion entitled ” The Gridlock on the Calabar – Itu Federal Highway and Sponsored by Senator Onor, Sandy Ojang Onor, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Cross River Central It was Co-sponsored by 30 other Senators.
In his presentation, Senator Onor said that “The Senate: Notes that the Calabar – Itu highway is the major link between Cross River, Akwa Ibom and other South-South and South East states;
“Further notes that the Calabar – Itu Federal Highway is very paramount to the economy of South- South and South East states, due to its economic significance.”
According to him, the Senate is “Aware that due to the near unmotorable state of the road over the last couple of years, the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in 2017 awarded Julius Berger construction company the contract for the rehabilitation and dualization of the highway;
“Further aware that the project has been abandoned for months, thereby causing heavy traffic gridlock. This has greatly affected commuters, motorists, traders, businessmen. It is particularly distressing to note in this regard that almost all the retail and commercial purchases for the Cross River market come from Onitsha, Aba and Port-Harcourt.
In the same vein, the entire South-South and South-East states depend substantially on Cross River State for the purchase of quality chippings for Roads, Buildings and other forms of construction activities.
This gridlock has therefore undeniably locked down critical economic activities in all the aforementioned states, thereby creating a terrible economic downturn with obviously devastating consequences on the citizenry.”
Senator Onor said that the Senate is “Worried that the state of the road has worsened to the level where erosion, gullies and potholes are the major characteristics of the highway, which clearly is a national embarrassment.
“Further worried that this terribly deteriorating state of the road, if not quickly addressed would clearly promote poverty and worsen the already alarming security situation in the concerned zones; and
“Concerned that the distance between Calabar and Uyo which ordinarily should be about one and a half hours, now takes several hours or even days; resulting to a shift to the usage of the Ocean route between Calabar and Oron that has already claimed several lives resulting from Boat mishaps occasioned by an influx that was unprepared for.”