Akwa Ibom: Is There Hope for Residents of Idu Uruan Estate?
By Ekemini Simon
Residents of State Government estate at Idu Uruan Estate have one problem in common. Rising from bed, they are drenched with deep thoughts of how to wriggle themselves out of dire needs of basic amenities.
Lack of infrastructure is a migraine causing worry to the residents. Poor surrounding leaves them with no good feeling better than those living in shanties and slums.
Every morning, residents who can’t afford digging a borehole trek a kilometre or more from the estate in search of where to fetch a bucket of water. Sadly, a water facility owned by Akwa Ibom Water Company is just a stone throw from the estate yet for years now water supply isn’t reticulated to the estate.
Beyond water, there is no electricity in this estate. Occupants are faced with similar perennial burden of burning petrol for power generation. However, it was noticed that a few of the occupants have resorted to tapping electricity illegally from the near by 50 Housing units estate built by the Obong Victor Attah’s administration. This has led to several breakdown of the transformer that feeds the over a decade old 50 units estate.
As the rainy season sets in, the plight of residents of the Idu estate will aggravate. Anyone trekking from the estate to the main road must not wear a leather shoe, else s/he will have to pull it off to hop through puddles on the road. Many vehicles end up at Mechanic workshops each time they are driven to a visit in the estate.
Mr Uduak Umana, who resides in the estate said, “Living here is really hard. It is better experienced than explained. Some slums may have access to basic amenities. But what is life without water, electricity and road in an estate provided for by government. We reside here like people in interior villages.”
Why is the Estate in Bad Shape?
The Estate was constructed under the Mass Housing scheme under the Governor Godswill Akpabio’s administration in 2010. The Estate was not completed. It is at different stages of completion. Governor Udom Emmanuel on assumption of office showed interest in the estate. In April 2016, the Akwa Ibom State Government after its State Executive Council Meeting announced its decision to commence sales of the housing estate and the one in Ikot Ekpene. The sales commenced without basic amenities.
Why the abrupt Sale?
According to then Commissioner for Housing and Urban Renewal, Prince Enobong Uwah during an interaction in Uyo, with resource persons and stakeholders of the project months ago, government could no longer continue investing in the schemes because of present economic realities.
“Since 2010 till now, we are talking of six years gap; of course there will be issues of depreciation, which have been noted by government and at the same time the government will not after six years of starting a project abandon it because of the issues involved which includes debt owed resource persons and other stakeholders.”
Prince Uwah stressed that government will not wait for all the houses to be completed as initially planned, but would sell them in their present state after proper valuation and paying off liabilities.
On the whole, government sold the houses without providing amenities.
Is the reason for the sales under the circumstance justified?
Government consultant on the project, Arc Nya-Etok disagrees with the State government’s approach.
He said it is wrong to sell off houses in an estate where basic infrastructure are lacking.
“As a citizen and a professional, I’m saying that if you have an estate, it is incumbent on whosoever initiated that estate to ensure that the estate is a livable estate.”
“As a practice, it should be the responsibility of government to protect citizens who buy properties in an estate. They are to ensure they meet the covenant which are the underlined principle and understanding of that project.
For instance, one expects that you have basic infrastructure and these are roads, water electricity. They are fundamental to any Housing project”, Nya-Etok said.
What is obtainable at the Housing estate in Idu Uruan is not found nor contemplated in other climes, hence the consultant called on the State Government to suspend sales of any estate that does not show capacity to meet basic infrastructural needs.
Nya-Etok further said since the project had been terminated, for the housing to be completed all the workers involved should be re-engaged with “proper payoff”. He noted that re-engagement agreement should not be tied to sales proceeds of the property except there is a new partnership.
Government’s Plan for the Estate
According to the Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, Mr Akan Okon, Government has not abandoned the estate nor its obligation to provide necessary facilities for the estate.
Okon noted that low revenues was a challenge in the provision of facilities in the estate.
He said government had already mapped out the road for construction, adding that since water facility from Akwa Ibom Water Company was nearby, government was ready to utilize it for the estate even as it will provide electricity.
“When funding is available, the whole thing will be addressed. If it was when people had money, they would have paid up. The people who bid to pay for it have not been able to pay. The money we have now is just for basic needs.
It is in the plan of government to provide all the basic facilities. Funding has been in short supply. The government of Deacon Udom Emmanuel has the people at heart. I am very certain in a short while, the issue will be addressed.”
The promise from government gives hope. It the hope of residents of the estate that government will take to heart and play its part in the realisation of the desire of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 which says, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including . . . housing”.