COMMUNITIES in Odoro Iton in Ikono and Oku Iboku in Itu local government areas of Akwa Ibom State have cause to thank God and praise the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
They mood in Odoro Etok Iton community in Ikono Local Government Area was that of joy, gratitude and sense of belonging, thanks to the road network provided by the NDDC under the Nsima Ekere-led management.
The phase I of the Odoro Etok Iton Link Road, completed and about to be inaugurated, has wide drainage system on both sides and serves as one of the star ought so much economic benefits to the people, adding that the road is the best in the whole of Ikono Local Government Area.
“The road is the best in this area. You have seen the quality of work done. All you need to do is drive on the road and you won’t notice any bad spot.
“I want to advise the state government to use the standard of roads constructed by the NDDC as yardstick because some contractors use bare hands and poor quality equipment to construct roads around here,” he said.
Etim Udonsek, a commercial motorcycle operator, also commended the commission for coming to the rescue of the community, saying that the Odoro Etok Iton Road has made his business and other businesses easier and more rewarding than before.
Udonsek recalled that there was a time the villagers could not access the local government headquarters and places such as markets, hospitals, farms and other facilities because of lack of link roads.
He said he was grateful to the NDDC for changing their pathetic story and giving their lives a meaning with the construction of the Odoro Etok Iton Link Road which, according to him, has brought smiles and succour to the people.
However, Mrs Blessing Jimmy Ituen, who owns a shop close to the newly constructed road said though she is appreciative of the intervention by the NDDC, the commission should also construct the Odoro Etok Iton-Oboro Akara-Aba Link Road.
She said the road is very strategic to the community as it links the community with the commercial city of Aba from Oboro Akara Local Government Area.
According to her, the road has the potential of enhancing business and economic activities in the community as traders can easily move their wares to and from Aba, thereby creating wealth and development.
One of the star projects of the current management of the NDDC is the internal road within the Oku Iboku community in Itu Local Government Area. The road, which meanders through many villages along the stretch, terminates at the popular Itu River.
Oku Iboku is the host of the moribund Oku Iboku Paper Mill which has been neglected for years by successive governments with the consequence that the once-robust community had become a ghost of itself, with relics of the company adding to the sorrows of the villagers.
But the NDDC has breathed life back to the once-forlorn and drowsy community with the construction of the internal road which has rejuvenated the economic and social life of the people as evident in the springing up of small and large business concerns in the community.
A visit to the area presents one with the spectacle of one in coma gradually coming alive after a miraculous touch from a divine force.
Grateful natives and residents of the community, traders, fishermen, fish and crayfish sellers, commercial motorcycle operators, boat owners and riders have attested to the fact that things are looking up with the construction of the internal road in the Oku Iboku community.
Eyo Utip, a fisherman, who plies his trade at the Itu River, said his business has improved tremendously because of the newly-constructed internal road by the NDDC.
He said: “My business has really picked up because of the road. It was difficult for fish sellers to come to this beach to buy fish from us because of the bad road. The situation has changed now as people from Uyo and far-flung places come here to patronise us. The reason is simple. They can now access this beach. I thank the NDDC for constructing the road for us.”
Mayen Etuk has a provision shop along the newly-constructed road. She admitted that she has more customers now than before because they have access to her shop.
According to her, she almost shut down her shop some months back because she was not breaking even due to low patronage.
“Most times, I had to resort to taking my items out to the local government headquarters and popular markets around the state because I had very poor sales. I collected loan from LAPO Micro-finance Bank to stock my shop as I didn’t want to take chances.
‘’Sometimes, some of my items perished, especially the perishable ones. I persevered. When the NDDC began the construction of this road, I had some ray of hope. Even construction workers
began to patronise me and things changed for good.
‘’Today, I am counting my blessings. This is the fruit of NDDC intervention and I will ever remain grateful to the Ekere-led NDDC for its good work which has wiped away our tears and brought hope to us here,” she said.
A community leader, Chief Nelson Akpakpan said though the dilapidation of the paper mill many years ago has negatively affected the community, the NDDC road intervention has given members of the community the hope and confidence that government has not forgotten them.
He appealed to the state and Federal Government to resuscitate the moribund paper mill, adding that the internal road constructed by the NDDC should serve as bait to corporate institutions, government and rich individuals to explore the rich aquatic potential of the area.