1. Hastily built houses along the reconstructed road in Akwa-Ibom
The sudden rush in construction of makeshift houses and shrines along an ongoing road project has been on increase in Akwa-Ibom state. During the General Yakubu Gowon regime in the 70’s, during the initial explosion in oil exploration in that region, the road in question was constructed, but has since become a danger zone. In 2018, the Federal Government began the reconstruction of the entire span of over 50 kilometers stretch of the road and awarded the contract to Julius Berger to see to its full reconstruction.
One of the hastily put up structures to qualify for govt. compensation
But findings have shown that residents living in that area are hurriedly building fake houses and shrines close to the mapped out road and using it as a means to demand for compensation from the government before demolishment.
When the news agency visited the location, they witnessed many villagers building shrines, houses and drilling boreholes near the already surveyed road. This was seen at locations along Okurikang, Ikot Okon Akiba, Kparam, Akai Effiwatt, Itu Bridge head and Itu junction and other villages in Akwa Ibom State.
2. How Akwa-Ibom residents explained?
During an interview with the news media, some villagers affirmed their actions and confirmed that they are aware of government decision on the lands but still went ahead to rush-build houses and shrines.
Though, one of the villagers in Kparam, simply identified as Ekpo Ekpo had a different story. He said that they are not aware of any road construction project as they are simply building their houses close to the road with no spurious intentions.
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An old man seen supervising his own construction, said he was simply building a new house to relocate immediately because his old house is at the verge of collapsing. However, in Ikot Okon Akiba village, a young man identified as Elvisl, admitted being aware of the government project on the said land.
“We have been living here for many years and have been suffering the effects of the bad state of this road, and now that government has decided to work on it, we should also be given some compensation for keeping the road alive by filling the bad spots with stones and sand for vehicles to pass,”
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When the issue was brought to the attention of the village head of Okurikang, Chief Inyang Inyang, he said he was unaware of any rushed construction of houses and shrines. He added that if anyone should complain, it should be those doing the work and not just passers-by.
At the Federal Ministry of Works, Calabar Office, the Federal Controller of Works, Engineer Bassey Nsentip condemned the actions and stated that any structure which was not covered initially during the survey would be bulldozed without compensation to the owner. This is clearly an example of Nigerians taking advantage of living by a main road to engage govt.
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