What can anyone do, who has been cut off from the rest of the world? Nothing much really, except to pray and hope for help. The prayers and expectations of many communities in Akwa Ibom that were cut off from the rest of the world, due to dilapidated roads and bridges have been answered with the bridge building vision of the Governor Akpabio administration.
A bridge, according to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is a structure built to span physical obstacles, such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. There are many different designs that all serve unique purposes and apply to different situations.
The above description of bridges exemplifies what the Chief Godswill Akpabio administration has been doing with bridges in many parts of Akwa Ibom, especially for the purpose of opening up hitherto remote and inaccessible communities.
Over the past six years, Governor Akpabio, as part of his uncommon transformation agenda, has ensured the construction of many new bridges that have ended woes, agony, sadness and sorrows, orchestrated by years of neglect, abandonment and deprivation.
Bridge designs, all over the world, vary, depending on the function, nature of terrain and available resources. As such, the administration of Chief Akpabio critically considers every road project it undertakes, based on the peculiarity of area it traverses, thus making room for standard bridges where necessary.
From Ukpom Abak in Abak Local Government Area, where a bridge has been constructed over a deep ravine, measuring 45 metres long, to Obio Akpa in Oruk Anam Local Government Area, where a bridge has been completed to ease human and vehicular movements, state-of-the-art bridges have not only added to the aesthetics of the road network in Akwa Ibom, they have also become agents of prosperity to the people. Today, goods and services have a free course across the nooks and crannies of the state. More so, raw materials, perishable farm produce are easily moved from hitherto cut-off communities to the urban centres.
Before the Akpabio administration in 2007, there were many parts of the state that had been cut off from civilisation on account of bad roads and completely dilapidated bridges. This situation forced many to abandon their localities for other communities which were relatively tolerable and barely accessible by roads. The people of Etim Ekpo for instance were in this sorry state when Chief Akpabio came on board. Crossing the rickety bridge built in the colonial era, from the headquarters to the mainland region of Eka Uruk Eshiet, Midim and others was suicidal for anyone to attempt. But today, the story is completely different. Etim Ekpo kith and kin that were formerly separated by dilapidated bridge now interact without inhibition.
Although, still under construction, the Etebi-Enwang road project with a bridge of about 21 kilometres, is set to become an addition to the list of firsts recorded by the present administration in Akwa Ibom. The road, which would lead to the proposed Ibaka sea port, will also open up communities in the Eket – Mbo. On completion the Etebi-Enwang Bridge will definitely become the longest in Nigeria. The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos is 11.82 km.
The Akpabio administration deserves commendations for the courage to undertake the Etebi – Enwang road with the bridge component. Providing access to communities along the stretch of the road had been quite challenging for previous administrations, especially because of the huge cost of executing a project of that magnitude in an area with poor soil formation.
Perhaps the most outstanding of the many bridges the Akpabio administration has built are the concentric flyovers, strategically constructed at the entry point into Uyo, the state capital. The bridges, which are architectural wonders and compelling cynosures to visitors, have brought beauty and prestige to Itam Junction, renowned for the derelict ‘Itam Peace Column’. Today, Itam Junction, for its new found beauty, courtesy of the Akpabio administration, has become a place of relaxation for fun seekers. The new Itam Peace Column is also a beauty to behold.
The concentric flyovers at Itam boast of expansive dual-carriage ways and always well lit at nights. Apart from the beauty the bridges have added to the area, they have also helped to reorganise traffic flow, thus permanently solving the problem of unnecessary vehicular hold-up around the area.
Chief Godswill Akpabio has demonstrated huge leadership capacity in all ramifications. Even with bridges, his proclivity for excellence remains unassailable. Today, with socio-economic activities rejuvenated in many rural communities the tide of rural-urban migration has been stemmed. Many Akwa Ibom communities are becoming more and more viable because government is building bridges of prosperity across the state.
•Aniekan Umanah is the Akwa Ibom State commissioner for information & communications.