Indigenes of Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have lamented the abandonment of Etebi Enwang bridge project in the area.
The 1.12km bridge, one of the longest in Nigeria was started by former Governor Godswill Akpabio as one of his flagship projects to link oil-rich riverine communities of Mbo with their Esit Eket neighbours.
However, 13 years after it was awarded, work has stagnated at the site even as governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration has less than three years to go.
Investigations revealed that over N19.4B was paid for the construction of roads and bridges by the Akpabio administration after several variations from the original cost of N5.4billion at a time the US Dollar was about N200.
But less than 40percent completion rate was achieved before it was handed over to Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Gov. Emmanuel in a forum had promised to complete and commission the bridge before the end of 2018 due to its economic viability but according to sources, the project may not see the light of the day as it was considered political.
Speaking to members of the Correspondents’ chapel on the assessment of government projects in the State, a worker who pleaded anonymity said “all I can say is that it seems funds is what is delaying work on the bridge. Work is going on but it is very very small compared with what we used to see before.
“This project used to engage about 500 workers but you can see that nobody is even on site today although work takes place once in a while.” the source said
He said there was no indications that the project would be completed before the end of the present administration considering the current pace of work.
It would be recalled that a traditional ruler and family head of Uko Nteghe, Afi Uda, Chief Effiong Asuquo Efai had told correspondents who visited the project that the communities have continued to pass through untold suffering and are only able to move about in the dry season as the road is almost impassable even on foot during the rainy season.
“They keep engaging contractors who would end up abandoning the project. Between 2007 and now, three different contractors have been engaged and they all end up abandoning it without any tangible impact. The first was Sineong Nigeria Ltd, where I worked as a security officer.
“When they abandoned the work, the government engaged another one called Bulletin and now Amitec Construction and Development Company is the third and has equally abandoned site.
“If you had come during the rainy season, you wouldn’t get to this point; it’s so bad and risky and that is why we live a very sad life here. We are pleading with the government to come and complete this job because we are suffering.” Efai had said.
However, Governor Udom Emmanuel through the Chief of Staff and Supervising commissioner of works, Mr. Ephraim InyangEyen had assured that all the ongoing projects would be completed before he exits office in May 2023.
The Commissioner during a special inspection of ongoing road projects in the State on Sunday stressed that the State government would ensure that all the live touching projects it initiated are completed.