Ephraim Inyang, Commissioner for Works, says the administration is focusing on roads with economic value
NewsAfrica: This present administration is focusing on industrialisation, infrastructure and new development. What is the thrust of your ministry in that direction?
Inyang: To have industrialisation in the way this government is intending, it is important to ensure that linkages in terms of existing infrastructure are consolidated. Most of the companies coming into the state as a result of this new drive are going towards Ibeno axis of the state. It is important to ensure that there are good roads in Ibeno for those companies to have access to those places. Don't also forget that Ibaka Deep Sea axis doesn’t also have roads. What the government is simply doing is that from Uyo, the state capital, there should be dual carriage way to all these places. We are also tying to ensure that the entire state is linked up with dualised roads so that the industrialisation dream of the state government can be achieved. At the moment, if you move from Uyo to those places we want to focus on industrialisation, you will discover that there are no good roads there. The government has therefore decided that Uyo-Etinan; Etinan to Eket and ultimately to Ibeno are linked up. As we speak, construction giant Julius Berger is working on Uyo-Etinan road. Etnan-Eket is being worked on by CECC. We are, therefore, focusing on roads for economic reasons and not just roads for political considerations.
In less than a year, what have you been able to achieve as a ministry in line with the policy thrust of the Udom-led administration?
Honestly, the Eket-Ibeno road has been moving at a fast rate. Within this period too, Eket, which is the closest city to all the projects we are talking about, is undergoing serious remodelling. I must also state that within this period, too, funds have been mobilised for the construction companies to move to site. Plans are on to pay compensation for lands along Uyo-Etinan so that physical developments can actually commence. Apart from some of these economic roads, there are others that are practically impossible for people to use. Government is intervening to upgrade them. It is also important to say that places like Ini local government that is almost completely cut off because of bad roads is now being linked up with Abia State. Government had to step in to correct that as well. Also, Ini to Arochukwu road is another project whose profiling and drawing works have been completed. We believe that it is a serious economic road because it will now be easier for anyone to leave Arochukwu and access our airport within thirty minutes. This is with the aim of making life equally easier for our neighbouring states.
With the amount of money the state government is expecting from the federation as a result of refunds for renovating some federal roads, we hope to complete all we have envisaged. Uyo-Ikot Ekpene is a federal road that has been in total disrepair over time, but we are repairing it with our own resources. There is also Uyo-Calabar- Itu road, which we are renovating on behalf of the federal government. Expectedly, when the funds are refunded, we will have what it takes to do all we have envisaged.
Are there plans to sustain the economic standards of some of these projects just as the last administration did?
Let me make it very clear that we cannot do anything lower than the standard already established. So far in this state, there will be no need for any sub-standard road or projects that we will have to look for funds to correct less than a year after they were commissioned.
Considering the fact that heavy-duty vehicles will use some of these roads in question, they must meet minimum international standards so that we can have value for our money. We are therefore set to maintain and even improve on the standard set by the last administration. The cost of correcting roads is usually more than the cost of constructing a new one.
Are there plans for public/private collaboration in the construction of these roads construction?
Yes. In fact, the road we are working on from Ini to Arochukwu in Abia State is through that model. This is because of the present economic realities in the country. No government can succeed in the present dispensation without the private sector involvement.