11th September, 2012
Commuters in Calabar, Cross River State, Southsouth Nigeria have been faced with harrowing experience when traffic logjam lasted for days as the two major highways, Calabar-Uyo and Calabar-Ikom were blocked after a section collapsed.
The traffic logjam became noticeable on Thursday after two trucks fell on a failed portion of the road at Ikot Nyong close to Odukpani junction along Calabar-Uyo road. The resultant traffic snarl from the road eventually blocked the Calabar-Ikom road.
Vehicles leaving and coming into Calabar got stuck on the failed portion with the traffic stretching several kilometres on both sides of the road.
When P.M.NEWS visited the scene of the logjam on Friday, several ambulances carrying coffins containing corpses were seen held up in the traffic blockade and at night, the owners of the corpses had to carry the caskets on their heads for several kilometres across the area to the other side to have the bodies transferred to other vehicles for onward movement to their destination. One of such corpses was that of John Odu, a University of Calabar senior staff who was allegedly murdered by his in-laws after a fight with his wife, Cecilia.
“My brother, night is coming and we are taking him to the village in Boki which is 400 kilometres away, if we wait here for the traffic to clear then we may end up with a terrible situation on our hands”, Chris, a brother of the deceased told P.M.NEWS.
And as the blockade lasted many vehicles while scrambling for space on the clogged road ended up inside ditches and gullies on the side of the road while some crashed unto others. The drivers of a truck with registration number XA 864 KTU and a Toyota Hilux van bearing registration number CR23A06 belonging to the Cross River State government ended up in the emergency unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital after the truck crashed into the Hilux while both were scrambling for space near the Odukapani council secretariat gate, some four kilometres away from the bad spot where the two trucks fell and blocked the road.
The blockade also affected top government functionaries. The Commissioner for Information in Cross River State who on Saturday wanted to visit his village, Ugep in the central part of the state, could not make it until night and had to return to Calabar after several hours.
He told P.M.NEWS on Sunday evening that the state’s economy has been affected badly by the blockade and called on the Federal Government to assist the state by rehabilitating the roads in the state
“This blockade has impacted negatively on the economic and social life of the state. Remember that we are a tourism state and since this blockade began on Thursday last week, I have received several calls from people wanting to visit the state asking for an alternative route to Calabar and there is none. We therefore appeal to the Federal Government to assist us and fix the road.”
The Commissioner for Works, Barrister Legor Idagbo said the state has spent over N13 billion in the last five years working on federal roads in the state and called for re-imbursement.
“We have spent huge sums from our lean resources fixing federal roads in the state and the last time we held a meeting with those in charge of federal roads, they came up with a figure of N3.5 billion and when we said okay pay us that amount, nothing has yet been forthcoming.”
Idagbo said the Federal Government has not done any rehabilitation on its road network in the state for several years adding, “Calabar –Uyo road, was constructed in 1975 and since then no major rehabilitation has taken place and the culverts which were constructed with pan have since given way which is why we keep experiencing this every year. We call on the Federal Government to help us.”
Temporary relief has come to commuters as the Department of Public Transportation, DOPT, led by its head, Barrister Edem Ekong has succeeded in towing the fallen trucks out of the place while SERMATECH, a Chinese construction firm has been engaged to fill the place with smashed rock covered with red earth for vehicles to meander through.