• Thursday, June 20, 2024
businessday logo


Commissioned 1.15km bridge to open up economy, boost living standard of Akwa Ibom communities

A’Ibom govt inaugurates 1.15KM bridge to link Mbo communities

The recent completion of a 1.15km bridge in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has received wide acclamation both within and outside the South-South region of the country.

It has also earned thunderous applause from people from all walks of life including former President Goodluck Jonathan not because it was seen as “a rocket science,” but because it was considered a feat that could not be achieved by a state government. This is so because past efforts to construct the bridge across a tributary of the giant Atlantic Ocean by the previous administration in the state ended in failure.

For instance, the immediate past administration in the state in Godswill Akpabio was the governor which initiated the project and is said to have committed huge sums of money belonging to the state government to the project yet it ended as a pipe dream.

It was not the construction of the bridge that was significant but the commitment of the state government in seeing to its completion besides the length of the bridge which is adjudged to be the fourth longest in the country.

The state government also claims that it is the longest bridge to be constructed by any state government given that other physical projects in other parts of the country were built by the Federal Government including the Third Mainland Bridge and the Eko Bridge both in Lagos.

The economic significance of the bridge which links several oil bearing communities of the state in Akwa Ibom South senatorial district should also be fully appreciated given that oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta region of the country have suffered unpardonable neglect over the years.

In Akwa Ibom state, a major oil producer accounting for more than 80 percent of total oil production in the country, the state has been without any form of petrol chemical facility, no major petroleum depot and no refinery.

The communities themselves bear the brunt of oil exploration activities and their livelihood which depends on aquatic and maritime resources has been under threat for years.

The environment itself has been wrecked by years of oil exploration and the rich mangrove swamp forest that was home to a wide variety of animal species including birds and monkeys, plants and reptiles has become a shadow of its former self.

With both the environment and the livelihood affected by the oil exploration and exploitation activities, one can imagine the high level of unemployment among the youths in the Niger Delta region in which Akwa Ibom State is inclusive.

It is against this background of years of neglect and abandonment of the region that the completion of the 1.15km bridge which attracted former president Goodluck Jonation and his wife, Patience, to its inauguration should be seen.

In emphasising the usefulness of the bridge, Jonathan noted that the governor has shown visionary leadership, describing himself as a witness to the development that has taken place in Akwa Ibom State since Governor Udom Emmanuel took office in 2025.

“Let me commend the governor very sincerely and his team for this visionary leadership. I am really delighted to be here again to once more bear witness to the considerable development strides being recorded in Akwa Ibom State,” he said.

According to the former president, “What I see whenever I visit Akwa Ibom State, is substantial evidence of well structured, good promoting projects.

“In the past seven and half years, my younger brother Governor Udom Emmanuel is the one who has been serving as enabler to all we are seeing.

“His strategic development plan has delivered great dividends to the people of this great State. Today, we are here again to commission a special project which like Governor Udom’s other projects is designed to promote economic growth, and improve the lives of the people.

“He has delivered several projects and built many bridges, but this particular bridge we are commissioning today is a flagship project. Of course, we’ve been told that it is the fourth longest bridge in the country.”

Noting the unique nature of the bridge, he said that apart from being the “longest bridge ever built by a state government,” he said it “takes somebody with total commitment to improving the quality of life of his people to embark on such a project.”

According to him, “Four months ago, when Akwa Ibom turned 35 years as a state, I was here to participate in the anniversary celebration. I noted then that Governor Emmanuel has great projects that directly impact the lives of the people in a remarkable way.

“I was not surprised that he was recently honoured by a media organisation as a governor with the best Economic Blueprint in the country. He merited the award sincerely

“Governor Emmanuel is a leader whose significant development has given hope and confidence to our democracy. Governor Emmanuel does not build physical bridges alone, he also builds human bridges and social bridges.

“He is a young, innovative, peace-loving and committed nation builder. The governor has an enviable bridge building disposition, the type that helps cement the fibre of our unity and make our unique diversity more profitable, and desirable. People like him are the stars and heroes of our democracy.

“Because such people work hard to ensure that democracy produces good fruit in the country, what we popularly call dividends of democracy. We need more people like him to ensure that our democracy is not detailed. That is why I am a bit worried by the negative energy being generated ahead of the 2023 election.

“And of course, I am very, very happy that the incoming governor of Akwa Ibom is here himself. So, I am sure that he will follow the footsteps of Udom Emmanuel very, very effectively. We have noticed a level of bitterness in our politics that does not bring development. And I plead with politicians that politics is about marketing your ideas. Politics is not about fighting, insulting, and it is not about abusing one another.’’

The bridge is significantly seen as yet another landmark project completed by the state government with Akwa Ibom rapidly emerging as a business and economic hub of the Niger Delta region. Its excellent road network is second to none while the cleanliness of the state capital and other major towns and cities has earned the state for the second year running as the cleanest state in the country.

It is instructive that while many other states may be focusing on electioneering campaign ahead of the next election, Akwa Ibom State is pursuing the completion of many projects including the smart terminal building at the Ibom Airport and other projects.

For the indigenes and residents of Afi, Uko Nteghe and Uda in present day Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, who were for several decades separated from other sections of the state as well as active participation in meaningful economic activities, following the inability of successive administrations to link up the communities with modern and sustainable bridge since 1969, the inauguration of the bridge is a dream come true.

The predominantly riverine communities of Okobo, Mbo and Esit-Eket Local Government Areas surrounded by the Ibom Indutrial City, Liberty Free Trade Zone, Ibom Deep Seaport, Dakkada Global Oil, and Ibom Solutions Hub, is host to one of the largest fishing belts along the shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean and several other investments in the oil and gas sector.

The primary beneficiary of the new bridge, Mbo Local Government Area, also hosts to one of Nigeria’s security formations, the Forward Operating Base of the Nigerian Navy.

Sadly, the natives of these serene and oil rich communities were not happy with what they described as continous neglect and lack of government presence for over six decades.

The locals suffered untold hardship in the area of transportation because they had no access road to connect with their counterparts. The only way children and traders of these communities could access schools, hospitals and markets, especially other services rendered outside their communities were by canoe or kayak.

In his remarks, Governor Emmanuel said the project was undertaken by his administration in order to connect and open up riverine areas for investors and other economic vistas, as part of his Completion Agenda for the state.

“When I took up the mantle of leadership, I said we came here to serve. In my second term, I said we are going to open up the riverine areas, and there’s no Local Government Area today in this state that this administration has not touched or there isn’t an ongoing live touching projects.

“Today, we are running a government that from Uyo, you can drive to the Atlantic Ocean on a dualised thoroughfare. We are also building one of the most intelligent terminal buildings in Africa that can also anchor an A3-80 aircraft. So by commissioning this bridge here today, which is where the solutions of Nigeria lies, we are opening up new opportunities for our people, and we want to thank God for all of these achievements,” the governor said.

While reeling out the components and features of the bridge, the Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof Eno Ibanga, under whose supervision the project was executed, and the Managing Director of the contracting firm, Amitec Construction and Development Ltd, Engr Aiman Saimua, jointly explained that the project had met all engineering specifications.

According to the Commissioner, “This 1.15km bridge sits on a 412 piles with a minimum depth of 30 metres each. The bridge is divided into 52 segments of 52 spines with 22.5 metres each. These spines also sit on a 408 pre-cast beams. The bridge is also designed with stone-pitch protection at both ends with streetlights and a 1.5 metres walk way for pedestrians and bicycles. Therefore, as far as engineering specification is concerned, this bridge has met all the timing, curing and the healing for any process to take place, and I can boldly say that this bridge will stand the test of time.”

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Amitec Construction and Development Ltd, Aiman Saimua, has commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for the confidence he reposed in his company for the execution of the project, emphasising that he enjoyed tremendous support from the host communities, including the traditional rulers and the youths while the project was under construction.

“This project was awarded to us four years ago, and I want to thank the Governor for his passion to see it to completion,” Saimua said.

Goodwill messages were delivered by members of the benefitting communities including the Secretary to the State Government, Emmanuel Ekuwem; His Grace, the Bishop of the Metropolitan of the Catholic Archdiocese of Calabar, Most Rev. Joseph Ekuwem, the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom State, Umo Eno, as well as the Member representing Mbo State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Effiong Johnson.

The inauguration of the 1.15km Afi-Uko Nteghe Bridge was witnessed by the former Governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada.