December 5, 2022
Angry residents of Urua Ekpa community in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom State have started mobilisation for a mass protest in connection with the death of one Marvelous, a construction worker, who was buried under the collapsed underground drainage system undertaken by Benest Engineering Ltd, at the weekend.
It was gathered that human error caused the accident, coupled with poor rescue operation, as the community youths were said to have deployed manual efforts with shovels, as the company could not immediately bring an excavator.
Speaking to the media, Mfon Udo, a resident of the area, who said he personally assisted in the rescue operation, lamented that “the victim could have been rescued alive, but for lack of earth-moving equipment like excavator, which forced us to join in digging the spot for over four hours to get at his remains, heavily pressed down in the rubbles.”
He said, “The structure collapsed under the weight and vibration of a motorized equipment that was packing and ferrying the chipping stones closer to the underground, where the victim, a mason man, was trapped, while trying to pour the cement and concrete mixture in the construction of the underground water tunnel.”
Udo expressed worry that “a job of this magnitude could be awarded to a local contractor as a political compensation to the firm owned by Elder Benji Udobia, the political leader of Esit Eket Local Government Area”, and urged governor Udom Emmanuel to cancel the contract and re-award it to major company with excellent safety standards like the Julius Berger, as his tenure nears its May 29, 2023 exit date.
“We have been completely cut-off from Uyo, the state capital because of perennial floods that submerged houses and people losing their lives every rainy season. So, when we saw, contractors being mobilized to the site, we commended the governor for this rescue mission, but it turned out to be a big disaster to the people,” Effiong Bassey, a youths’ activist from the Itu LGA, lamented.
Checks by LEADERSHIP yesterday revealed that the contractor has abandoned the job, following threat by the youths to launch protest against alleged negligence that led to the sad incident.
“Since the accident happened, the contractor has disappeared with their equipment from the site, and from the look of things, the job has been abandoned because the administration is already getting closer to its end of tenure in 2023,” Emmanuel Akpan, a resident said.