Community Report: Construction firm embarks on life touching projects in Akwa Ibom
By Promise Valentine
The people of Odio, Ikwe, Ikot Akpatek and Ndon Eyo in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have lauded the Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s administration for bringing succour to them following the award of contract and commencement of the construction of 15.5KM single carriage and 6 KM dual carriageway in Odio. The construction also includes four bridges and a flyover.
The award of the contract and the subsequent commencement of work by VKS Nigeria Construction Company is sequel to the present state of the road which has been abandoned by successive government for the past three decades.
The obvious dilapidated and near impassable state of the road has caused untold pains and hardship to the indigenes of these communities, and this has grounded economic activities such as trading, farming, transportation and other social and religious activities.
For example, in Ikot Akpatek, a certain portion of the road was completely cut off due to overflow of river. This area of the road, as important as it is, was without a bridge and the people of this community were left to take their destiny in their own hands. All efforts by the community to provide solution to this problem proved abortive.
The call for government intervention by the people of the area was loud and deafening. Unfortunately such calls have always fallen on deaf ears.
According to a commercial motorcyclist, Mbotidem Friday, “We were completely cut off from the rest of the world. Life was quite difficult, not because we do not have means of livelihood, but because the only available road that connects us to the rest of the world was gone as a result of the bad state of this road and overflow of river. When rain falls, you dare not go near Ikot Akpatek.”
This sentiment by Mbotidem was re-echoed by a 70 year old woman, Mrs. Nancy Odio, who has been a regular user of the road.
She observed that for the past over seven decades, she has been passing through the road. “As a child, I used to trek pass this Ikot Akpatek road to school. Even when I was actively involved in business, we pass through this road to Ndon Eyo and connect Eket. But this is no longer the situation.
“Until recently before this construction firm arrived, we could not connect other communities because the road was no longer accessible
The Chief Liaison Officers, representing the Odio and Ikot Akpatek, maintained that previous governments were not sincere to the people. According to them, ever since this present administration came on board, the people of Odio and other connecting communities have breathe sigh of relief.
In the words of Paul Sunday Tom, the representative of Odio community: “This government has given us hope. This government has been so close to our people. We are beginning to understand the true definition of ‘Government of the people, for the people and by the people’. This has applied in our case.
Findings by some newsmen reveal that although contract has been awarded for the construction of the road, such has not automatically alleviated the immediate suffering of the people as a result of the state of the road. The poor state of the road and the resultant effect on the lives of the people prompted VKS Nigeria Construction Company to immediately provide a life-line for the people; at least for the time being.
VKS Construction Company is one of the leading construction firms carrying out major constructions in the state. Owned by a Turkish businessman, VKS is reputed for being the company with the highest number of Nigerians in its payroll. The firm believes in training and improving the skills of the local engineers in the country for optimal productivity. The company is also giving back to the society by way of corporate social responsibility.
And like Nelson Mandela asked: “What simple change can you make that can have a big impact in your community?” VKS Construction has been providing answers to this very important question over the years in Akwa Ibom State. For instance, in the affected area of Ikot Akpatek in Onna, the company swiftly moved in and provided a solution, by fixing up the portion of the road which was overtaken by river.
The company took it upon itself to construct a mini bridge to aid movement of persons, vehicles and other means of transportation to and fro the affected communities. Movement to markets, farms, schools and other sundry activities had long resumed. Although a temporal solution, this has however provided succour to the people of the community.
This is not the first time this company is providing assistance to communities in the state as a way of corporate social responsibility. In the first quarter of 2017, the company donated five hundred desks, one hundred tables and chairs to five primary schools in Adiasim, Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state. It also donated free exercise books to several schools across the area.
Also, the people of Nkana in Etinan Local Government Area of the state will not forget in a hurry the impact of VKS Nigeria Construction Company in their community.
During the construction of a major road linking the four communities – Ikot Nsung, Ikot Ekot, Nkana and Akpasak Efa in 2017, the people expressed extreme delight at the high sense of responsibility exhibited by the management of company in organizing a meet that fostered unity between the various communities and expatriates working in the area.
The representatives of the four communities had on the occasion of the meet, issued a statement that VKS operates an all inclusive policy and adhered strictly to the local content act of providing job employment to 70 per cent of the locals in their communities.
Part of the statement read: “We the entire youths and people of these four communities, namely: Ikot Nsung, Ikot Ekot, Nkana and Akpasak Efa, are extremely delighted to have the top management of VKS Nigeria Construction Limited here in our midst today.
“Let us thank governor Udom Emmanuel for awarding contract for the construction of this road. This road has remained in a very bad condition right from time immemorial and as such retarded the progress of this area. The abandonment we faced before now as a result of the poor state of infrastructure in this part of the state could best be seen rather than explain, but thank Gov. Udom for bringing light to us and ultimately, giving our youths employment through the awarding of this contract.
Most of the workers here are our children and this has given us a sense of belonging. When completed, this road will ease the movement of goods and services, as well as free flow of traffic.
“VKS has come to visit us today with gifts and words of assurance that we are partners in progress in the projects executed here. We sincerely appreciate them and hope that VKS will continue in the good work they have been doing and will not violate the social norms, customs and traditions of their landlords. We pledge our total support and protection to the personnel, equipment and materials of the company at all times.”
Speaking on the intervention of the dilapidated Ikot Akpatek road in Onna and the construction of the 15.5KM single and 6KM dual carriageway Odio road, the project coordinator Engineer Yurdahan, noted that this is not about VKS but about Governor Udom Emmanuel, who loves his people and is passionate about bringing development to the state.
“We are here because the Governor gave us the opportunity to come and work. If we never had the opportunity to be in Akwa Ibom, we could not have been able to assist the people of this community. So I think the governor should be the one to be appreciated.
“Our primary task is to make life comfortable to the people of Akwa Ibom. We are into infrastructure construction and you know this is one area that really affects the people directly. If the roads are good, life will be easy for the people.
“Like I said, all thanks to Governor Udom Emmanuel for the opportunity given to us to work in the state. And for corporate social responsibility, we will continue to provide the little we can to assist government in meeting the need of the people of the state, especially in providing employment to the Akwa Ibom people.
“We are very comfortable working in Akwa Ibom state. The people are quite friendly. The youth are very hard working. They have been very instrumental in getting our job done on time. The people of the community have assured us of adequate protection. I can confirm to you that we are at home in the Akwa Ibom state”.