January 10, 2023
The traditional rulers in Akwa Ibom State have called on the Federal Government to urgently pay compensation to property owners on the Calabar Odukpani highway, to avoid further delay on the project.
The royal fathers stated this while reacting to the controversies that have trailed the non-payment of compensation to property owners on the Calabar/Itu federal highway, which has so far stalled work on the project with less than 30% of work done.
The Royal fathers drawn from Itu, Ibiono Ibom, Ikot Ekpene, and Ikono Local Councils told newsmen in Uyo on Monday that shifting the payment of compensation to states was not in the best interest of the people.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues during an advocacy visit to Mr Franklin Isong, State Director of Centre for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), Paramount Ruler of Itu, Edidem Edet Akpaninyang maintained that it was unlawful not to compensate property owners on a government project.
Akpaninyang expressed regrets that work on the road had been suspended because of non-payment of compensation even as the delay in the project has increased the number of accidents with its attendant casualties on the road.
He said, “We commend the Federal Government for re-awarding the road and our son, Senator Ita Enang for facilitating the re-award of the contract but the road is now a death trap because its present condition has caused several accidents. It seems the FG has abandoned the road again.
“So what we are saying is that controversy over the payment of compensation is stalling work on the project.
“We want the FG to pay the compensation and not the state so that the road project will progress because that road is of great economic importance to us.
“It is regrettable that there was no provision for compensation on the Calabar Itu highway. Other roads in other parts of the country also attracted compensation. Our own should not be different.
“We also want our right to be given to us to nominate Community Liason Officers. It is unlawful for any other person to do so for us,” he added
The Royal Fathers maintained that it would be difficult to reach a compromise for the people not to be paid because it is the law, especially as the property owners have expressed unwillingness to forgo the compensation.
He congratulated Isong on his new appointment and expressed the willingness to partner with him for the development of communities in their area.
Isong in his reaction pledged commitment towards assisting the traditional Rulers in developing their communities and commended them for their peaceful disposition towards resolving the challenges confronting the road project.
The state director who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing several Akwa Ibom indigenes into positions of authority however called on the FG to expedite action on the road to fast-track the development of the area. (INDEPENDENT)