By Richard Peters
While the mainstay of every economy is hinged on agriculture, it takes good road network to facilitate the movement of agricultural produces to the external world which in turn, is a great part of what economic growth is all about.
Away from the movement of people which enhances social interaction, a high-quality road network is essential not only for connecting key urban centres but for improving connectivity of more isolated local communities for whom many public transport options are limited or not available.
The World Bank Blog records that although virtual connectivity has become increasingly important today with the emergence of new communication avenues, a good and reliable transport network remains vital.
Upon assumption of office in 2015, the Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel identified this road network importance and keyed into its development, seeing it is one of the obvious factors which could make and mar a nation’s reputation and economic growth.
In Uyo senatorial district alone, the present administration has through the ministry of works, headed by Akparawa Ephraim Inyang changed the status of over 900 main and connecting roads including the construction of the 6.1km Atan offot road, 9.0km Mbiaya Uruan-Ita-Ikpa-Mbiakong Uruan road with 60m Span Bridge in Uruan Local Government Area, 19.317km Annua-Mbak-Ishiet Road, 14.5km Uyo/Airport Junction-Okopedi Okobo road Phase1, 12.15km Enen Nsit-Obotong-Ikot Enwene-Edebom-Oboetuk-Ikot Obok- Mbiakom- Obo Atai- Oboyo Ikot Ita road in Nsit Ibom, 3.5km Ikot Udom Road with 15m span bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, 2.1km road around the State Secretariat Annex and Believers Academy at Mbiabong, 1.5km road at Nsikak Eduok- Tropicana outfall drain, 20.0km Uyo-Etinan road, 8.5km Ibiaku Uruan-Ekritam Road and spur in Itu/Uruan Local Government Area, as well as the Ikot Akpa-Edu- Ikot iko- Ikot Akpan Abia road in Ibesikpo with 30m Span Bridge.
Some of these constructions which are ongoing are already reducing the distance between people, markets, services and knowledge, one of which is the almost completed 25.0km Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road.
Strategically located in the heart of Uyo and Ikot Ekpene, the road has its linking ability with the host communities of Uyo, Ibiono Ibom, Ikono, Abak, Essien Udim and Ikot Ekpene as well as neighboring Abia state, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
When fully completed, the road will enhance intertrade and intersocial activities among the three states and boost the physical aesthetics of the state.
Another cardinal road project ongoing in Uyo senatorial district is the Ikot Oku Ikono flyover. It would be noted that the road was significant for causing accidents in times past due to its narrowness.
On completion, the road which will have a flyover will eradicate the incessant accidents hitherto experienced and ensure free vehicular movements of goods and humans to and fro Abak-Ikot Abasi-Mkpat Enin- Port Harcourt, Etinan-Nsit Ibom-Nsit Ubium-Eket Onna, Uyo- Ikot Ekpene-Odukpani-Calabar.
Furthermore, the governor Emmanuel-led administration has given a facelift to the Victor Attah International Airport through the construction of a taxiway to ease control congestion from the point of arrival, down to the Airport junction.
There is also the ongoing construction of 9.5km ring road phase II linking Aka, Oron and Nwaniba roads, by university of Uyo permanent site. Notably, this particular project will dissolve the girdlock often experienced along Oron Road as alternative routes will be provided to diversify traffic through Edet Akpan Avenue to get to Abak road, IBB way, Atiku Abubakar way and Idoro road, without having to get stuck in the Oron Road traffic.
Similarly, farmers and fishermen from Idu Uruan, Ifiayong and other coastal areas will be able to quickly access the Akpan Andem, Isshiet, Ifa, Nung Udoe and Afaha Markets without fear of delay at the Oron Road jam.
Besides these laudable records, the state government has ensured the execution of intervention projects such as the erosion Control at Etim Umana and underground drainage to control flood at Nsikak Eduok Avenue.
Also in the intervention projects are the 0.18km Ibiono Lane, 0.61km Asutan street, 0.15km Ebong lane, 0.19km Ebong Street and 0.25km Udotung Ubo lane amongst others.
Mr. Emmanuel has so far ensured that the road coverage in the state is not only sufficient but also passable, especially during the rainy season.
This is evidenced in the operation zero-pothole drive of his administration, through the Akwa Ibom Road Maintenance Agency (AKROIMA).
As a result, households, especially those in remote areas which in times past experienced difficulties transporting their goods, travelling from one point to another within the state country or even catching up on new developments, are now in happy times.
Notably, not only does good road networks reduce the cost of transportation, both in terms of money and time, it also helps in the integration of various regions within the country.
It therefore implies that the strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel in ensuring a viable road network in the state is not only necessarily important but visionary and of long-term importance.