Fix Yala Axis Of Mfom – Okpoma – Obudu Dual Carriage Road: Yala People Tell Ayade

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The orchestrated dual carriage way, which you commenced some 4 years ago by destroying the existing single carriage Federal road, has remained comatose throughout Yala segment, as if suspended or abandoned. Yala has, hence, remained helpless, without any Federal road for almost 4 years to date – being crippled of most of its economic activities. The road is a major commercial route that leads from Okuku Regional Market to Abakaliki, Enugu, Aba, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Lagos, etc. It is also a major route for sociocultural and economic activities between the people of the Northern Senatorial District of Cross River State. The continuous abandonment of the road construction has been a great disservice to Yala and other commuters! That is why Yala is appealing to Governor Ayade to direct government attention to the road in view of urgent completion.

Before you ordered that the road be dualized, a large part of the road was intact and asphalted. The pot-holes had been repaired by FERMA – to a large extent. Further, those pot-holes that were abandoned by some mindless fraudulent contractors were re-awarded by FERMA. Within the same period, NDDC had also awarded a contract for the complete Asphalt overlay of the same existing road from Mfom through Okpoma to Okuku. These road contracts were to commence during the 2015/ 2016 dry season.
However, unexpectedly, and without any known earlier plan or budget in place, you ordered the removal of the entire road surface. This was all the more surprising, as you did not give any consideration to the Federal status of the road in question! Hence, there was no negotiation in view of Federal government participation for the rapid construction of the project, using 70% Federal funding. It was also ridiculous to the Engineers that a whopping stretch of over a hundred kilometers of road pavement was decapitated and exposed to the vagaries of negative climatic conditions – which have, so far, damaged the entire exposed road surface.

There was hence immediate outcry everywhere. There were outbursts of multiple lamentations owing to the sudden destruction of crops, farms, economic trees, people’s compounds, buildings, shops, markets, residential fences and other facilities. Okuku junction, for example, was completely swept off, with all shops, social joints, selling kiosks, etc. Simply put, there were and there continue to be serious pitiable lamentations from the sudden disappearance of Yala people’s means of livelihood. Only partial compensations were later made to only a few persons! The other victims have been brutally left to perish or suffer, without any compensation for all their losses! The Governor needs to look into the issue of compensations, as he prepares to look into the road construction issues.

There was and there has been sustained serious outcry owing to the negative effects of “Ayade” dust during the dry season and mud during the wet season – and these have continued to this day! Everyone using that road as commuter or transporter, walking along that road, or living by the road, has become a great sufferer! And people – even sympathizers – have been shouting: where is Governor Ayade? Being Digital, has he remained in the world-wide-web (www)? Meanwhile, some claimed that you started the project just to win public sympathy, considering the case then at the Supreme Court between you and Barr. Joe Agi, SAN. Hence, they nicknamed the project as a Political Contract, which would not be realized. But we believe that you can do better!
In agreement, you have insisted all along that you were going to complete the construction of the road to a high standard. Yala Progressive Union, and many people in Yala, Ogoja, Bekwara, and Obudu have taken you by your word. However, in spite of this massive support to your government, the project was suspended after the removal of the road surfacing with the stone base – especially along Mfom – Okpoma – Okuku – Echumofana – Abuochiche axis. It has been a funny scenario that, in times of major occasions or functions in Yala, several road construction equipments would line the road, as if work was on-going. But they normally disappear thereafter. The scenario was displayed during the last New Yam Festival in Yala. Yala is now virtually crying. Is this a 419 arrangement? The serious surprise lingers on! Your integrity, Sir, may be in doubt, if actions are not taken promptly to execute the project! Remember that you remain our brother of Northern Cross River State extraction! You cannot continue suffering a number of communities without wavering.

What can be said further? The road drainages have not been executed! The culverts have not been extended – to meet up with the size of the dual carriage way! The dual carriage road is yet to be properly defined geometrically in terms of the cross sections! The base course is yet to be executed! The stone base course which was destroyed is yet to be executed! So, apart from demolitions, no reasonable work has been carried out on the road to date. There has therefore been no asphalting anywhere along the road! All eyes look up to Ayade. Can he do a miracle within the remaining 3 and half years left for him in office? People keep pondering.

Okpoma area, as an example, has been completely shattered and dismembered! Going from Oba to the Local Government Headquarter Office is a problem. Going from Oba to Woleche Utukpo and Iboko is a problem. Going from Okpoma to Mfom is a problem. Hence, going from Okuku or Okpoma to Calabar, Abakaliki, Enugu, Onitsha, Port Harcourt towns is a herculean task that may have the whole vehicle damaged! This segment of the road needs upgrading rapidly, to prevent more damaging degradation!
In view of the long abandonment, several hazards have crept up along the entire road. Serious erosion has ravaged surfaces of the road at many locations, where hoodlums are harbored. The road is now accident prone throughout the year. So many persons have lost their lives; and people continue to be made to lose their lives through accidents, owing to the poor state of the road. Also, so many have been maimed through accidents on the road. The question now is: “How many people will be killed or mutilated through accidents on the road before our Digital Governor and Cross River State Government will appreciate the need for urgent completion of the road?” Meanwhile, soon, there will be harmattan wind – when unimaginable dust covers the entire vicinity of the road – with high negative consequences. This is because the dust gives several sicknesses, ranging from breathing impairment, blindness and bad eyesight, etc.

While most well meaning Yala people continue to feel frustrated by the destruction and abandonment of the road project, some political miscreants or trouble seekers have been negatively writing in some newspapers, perhaps to provoke the peace loving public by insinuating that the road was being completed. This false information and misrepresentation should stop forthwith, as it may trigger some unexpected reactions from the good people of Yala. Such misinformation may mislead the digital Governor in an unprogressive manner. Misrepresentation in respect of development projects is, generally speaking, a great disservice to the entire Cross River State!

As it stands, Yala people are very disappointed and disillusioned as it pertains to the sustained poor state of the road under reference. It is getting more and more doubtful if the road will be executed as expected, within the remaining three and a half years for Ayade to complete his second term. Some people are already doubting, saying that Ayade has no capacity. Yala Progressive Union and other optimistic persons would want Ayade to shame the devil by executing the project rapidly. Is the Digital Governor listening?

All we are saying is: “Ayade, give us our road!” Let it be seen that serious work is going on until completion. Dry season is in sight once again. So, preparations can be made to commence work!

In anticipation of Ayade’s renewed attention for urgent execution of the Mfom – Okpoma – Obudu road project, we hereby suggest as follows:
1) Liaise with FERMA to contribute the contract sum that was to be used in 2015 for further repair of the road before the road surface was scraped;
2) Liaise with NDDC to contribute the contract sum that was to be used for the complete Asphalt overlay of the road in 2015 before the road surface was scraped; and
3) Liaise with the Federal Government of Nigeria to contribute 70% counterpart funding for the road project execution because it is a Federal Government road.

Yala, as part of the people of Northern Cross River State, appeal seriously to the government of Cross River State for urgent execution of the road project, to avoid giving us shame; to avoid the continuous keeping of the road as a death trap; to avoid cutting off permanently the economic, social and cultural nerve of Yala and other Local Government Areas of Northern Cross River State; to prevent the calamity of cutting off the major means of livelihood of your people!

Let this project not be relegated to the level of abandoned political project!
Now, as a worthy Member of the Knights of St. John International, we appeal that you have compassion on the suffering masses and commuters in, and through Yala by putting back our age-old road, with optimum quality.
Olakumode Omgbinyi
Writing from Okpoma, Yala
392019

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