By Azubuike Ihemeje, Esq
My recent visit to Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State, made me to weep for the hitherto tourism headquarters of Nigeria.
It was a journey on roads – en-route from Portharcourt to Uyo, then Calabar.
Our first horrible experience was actually not within Cross River jurisdiction.
It was the suffering between Abak to Uyo.
They said someone is building a bridge unending, within that road for close to two years, and still counting; which causes a journey of 7minutes to stretch up to 45 minutes or more.
The sufferings on both the locals and commuters is simply unimaginable.
Let me not digress into Uyo story abeg.
As for our journey from Itu to Calabar; I can’t even string together, the appropriate words and adjectives to perfectly describe the quantum of excruciating pains, agonies, sufferings, difficulties, and sheer inhumanity we experienced as a result of what I can safely call ‘The Most Deplorable Road on the Surface of the Earth’.
The entire communities living along that long stretch of highway from Itu down to Odupkani in Calabar are all wearing this heavily dusty laden looks like badly desolate refugees camps.
If you ever simply say the roads are bad; you’re wicked, evil and have done the greatest injustice to the realities and facts on ground.
And merely saying; “the road to Calabar is too bad, I slept on that road the other day”, is still not sufficient enough to convey the stark inhumanity, neglect, abject poverty, and total state of hopelessness that has become the lot of all inhabitants of the communities within that axis.
I heard that it started with untold gridlock with motorists sleeping on that highway.
But today, there’s no holdups again.
Vehicles have been grounded.
Drivers are tired and out.
Passengers have resigned to fate.
Haulage trucks have all given up, or have devised other routes other than Calabar.
Now, you’re on your own on that road. You either crawl, walk, or practically push your vehicle for hours unending till you get to Calabar.
Even the usual roadside traders along those communities have all disappeared for want of patronage.
Who’s ready to come down only to be bathed by heavy dusts.
Everything has been negatively impacted and affected by this horrible situation of roads there.
All throughout the torturous journey (Itu to Odukpani) that hitherto wouldn’t take more than 45mins, but now consumed 6hrs, I saw pains, hunger, poverty, anxieties, hopelessness, anguish, agony, and an economically raped society.
Now, upon getting into Calabar city proper, we were confronted by heaps of refuse all over. It was a sad departure from what it used to be.
We drove straight to the business that brought me.
Venue, was the EPZ – that’s Calabar Exporting Processing Zone. And the CFTZ.
It’s a complete industrial area properly designed and built for purposes of all kinds of industrial, manufacturing, and heavy company activities.
The Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) is an area just right inside Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, that is occupied by companies engaged in manufacturing, trading, provision of services and oil and gas related activities. These companies benefit from special taxation rules and duty-free imports.
This masterpiece complex is unprecedented.
Yours truly had come to enquire about some products I intend to purchase in large quantities, but the level of dilapidations we saw in that area is quite disheartening.
They said it’s due to the bad roads. As there’s no patronage, companies are winding up or relocating out of the state, and people have lost their jobs and means of livelihood.
The situation is terrible.
We were also advised to be careful of how we move around, because kidnappers are in constant troll.
I had to respect myself, and chalked in, soon as the police escort checked into their rooms before stories that touch occur.
Everything in the town is in ruins.
For a city that depends on it’s huge visitors and tourists bringing in money from outside, buying up all the hotels rooms, clearing up all the eateries on weekends basis,
But now, without any road for those visitors, your guess is as good as mine.
For a once boisterous city that thrives and survive solely by its many visitors on weekends and holidays, to cope without those visitors is unimaginable.
Even the short man knows; if you discount the road, every visit will automatically cease, and concomitantly every economic life will suffer.
Eateries have either shut down or are merely managing to survive with local customers.
Nothing come. Everything is good.
Transcorp hotel is in comatose, operating virtually on less than 30% capacity on a very good day. Most days, it could be worse than that.
I don’t want to talk about the grammarian now superintending over that state.
I have got plenty misgivings with people who spend lots of time rationalizing and justifying confusion.
Before you talk, they’ll dissect how the about 50kilometers road belongs to federal government.
Perhaps, na federal government dey suffer all these pains I enumerated.
There’s always mischief in heavy grammars.
My father said, beware of short men.
But let me end this by expressing my very heartfelt sympathies, fellow feelings, and deepest thoughts towards the long suffering people of Calabar.
Please, kindly accept my heartfelt pity.