The Evangelist News Edition, Thursday September 7, 2023. By Mark IDRAH and Missang AKPET
As the present administration at both federal and state levels of governance mark one hundred days in office, Cross River seems to be celebrating amidst over 500 potholes dotted across Calabar metropolis.
Since the beginning of Ayade era in 2015, driving around town amidst potholes have become part of residents lifestyle as they are now used as road signs.
Motorists and other road users have learnt that art of meandering through some dangerous spots and gullies along major streets in the cause of transacting their businesses.
This development has made some observers to nickname the once serene and tranquil environment “City of potholes.”
Calabar, Cross River state capital, with the sobriquet “Come- and -leave-and-be-at-rest,” seems to be gradually being known as “come -and-leave-with-potholes.”
The Beagle News check around the metropolis showed that there are over 500 potholes dotted in almost all the major streets.
Mayne Avenue,Yellow Duke, Orok-Orok, Goldie Street Ete -Agbor road, Mary Slessor, White House, Chamely Street, and Edgerton/Garden.
Other streets littered with potholes are IBB-Eta Agbor Round-about, IBB-Atmbo Round-about, IBB-Rabana Round-about, State Housing Estate, Ndidem-Usang-Iso (Marian road)Parliamentary Extension(Marian Boulevard) and Essien Town-School road.
Notable potholes are also seen UCTH-UNICAL road along Satellite Town, Jonathan By-pass, Ekorinim and around 8-Miles axis.
The Beagle News check revealed that toll collectors and security personnel who claim to be on duty choose to take advantage of the deplorable road condition to mount their men there to collect illegal levies from motorists.
Residents and motorists have complained about the unattended potholes, which have caused several accidents, traffic gridlocks and loss of business because of several hours spent trying to meander the many potholes.
Though Governor Bassey Otu inherited the deplorable condition of roads from his predecessor, Ben Ayade, the roads have become much more deplorable than there were then and it’s making movements difficult and expose motorists to danger in the country’s once cleanest city.
Some of the residents, who spoke with The Beagle News, described the attitude of the present administration towards these terrible road condition as “lukewarm and worrisome especially with the festive season drawing closer.”
A former director of works who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, said:”The menace, which is increasing by the day, has never been associated with Calabar but came to fore since the immediate past administration of Governor Ben Ayade took over.
According to him, “the regular maintenance works carried out by the Donald Duke and Imoke administrations were not carried out during the Ayade’s era.”
Ekpenyong Obo, a youth leader in Ekorinim Community who was seen mobilising youths to work on the portholes along Ekorinim road close to the House Of Assembly quarters, disclosed that for a very long time now the community in collaboration with tricycle union leadership have been carrying out temporary repairs without waiting for government intervention.
Obo lamented that, if they had to wait for government intervention, maybe the road wouldn’t have been passable at all by now.
“It is disheartening that Ekorinim which is the landlord community housing the ministry of works has to suffer from this number of portholes, it is even more embarrassing to see that one of the biggest portholes in the community is at the entrance to the ministry of works and on a road leading to the governor’s home,” Obo stated.
Chief Simon Anya, who lives along parliamentary extension on his part said: “Coming back to parliamentary everyday is a sad experience as the gridlock from water board across Effio-Ette junction is something else which most times you have to spend over an hour before you get home.
“I attribute this to the large porthole between Akai street junction to NPA quarters along parliamentary road which has been growing wider over the years.
“It is even worse when it rains because the drainage along that part of the road is bad and it leaves the entire road flooded whenever it rains. So you will have to battle the bad road and the flood at the same time”.
Speaking with some commercial drivers plying major roads in Calabar, they explained that they usually experience traffic hold up on the road, and it has always been linked to one pothole or the other.
This has been the major cause of frequent breakdown to cars as they try to maneuver their way through the streets of Calabar.
A commercial motorcyclist in Calabar South, Emma Uke, called on government to carry out repairs on the roads to ameliorate their plight and save them from constant visits to mechanics occasioned by too many potholes.
Uke said: “Because of the potholes, we repair our shock absorbers and purchase new tyres within fee Weeks which really affects our business and income. We barely make anything as we ply these roads.”
Inyang Asuquo, who operates a chatter vehicles and a civil servant, said: “A few days after taking over reigns of power, Gov. Otu began marking out the potholes and everyone started rejoicing with the hope that the roads have finally got attention. But it was abandoned again without being attended to and these have led many to say it is Otu’s 100 days legacy in office.
“With the drive to return the state capital back to its former glory, the administration of Governor Bassey Otu must attend to the growing number and sizes of portholes which have not only defaced the state capital but has taken a toll on both commuters and other road users.”
In a telephone interview the Commissioner for works, Hon Ankpo Edet Pius, said: “You know we just took over government and we are working on the rehabilitation of major roads.
“For potholes, we would do everything possible to eradicate them in Calabar and across the state. We have started something but the rains pose major challenge and we would kick off in earnest soon.”