Youths in many communities on both sides of the Calabar-Itu. Fed Highway has given an ultimatum to the contractors handling the dualisation, bridge building and rehabilitation of the road to stop work if their compensations are not paid.
They have given them up till June 20, 2022, to address the issue of payment of compensations otherwise after the expiration, they would increase the resistance.
A youth leader in the Oku Iboku axis, Akpan Asuquo who spoke on behalf of the people said the first contractor came and deceived them.
“We are insisting much on the compensation. Why should they be destroying our houses, farmlands, economic crops, and business places without payments? Let them pay us first before they continue. We have given them up till 20 June 2022 by which time we will stop the contractors from working…”
It would be recalled that the federal government had said it will no longer pay compensations to land and structure owners on both flanks of the federal highway, insisting that state governments are vested with land ownership and should therefore handle it.
The site agent for one of the road contractors, Joseph Ukpata reported to the minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola the issues on right of way and payment of compensations, saying they are the major challenges they are facing.
The minister represented by Folorunso Esan, Director of Construction and Rehabilitation directed the contractors to put the complaint in writing, adding that Gov Ben Ayade ought to implement the directive of paying the land owners.
“The youths and community leaders have given us up till 20 June to pay them compensations else they would block us and become restive.
“We have met with them several times, negotiating, pleading and persuading, assuring that the payments will come. We have no right of way, and it contributes to the delays we are experiencing. The people don’t allow us to work.
“We have worked for six months having started in November last year and should have completed the construction by next year November but this resistance is a big problem.”
The minister’s representative said, ”We have stopped paying compensations to owners of structures on this highway. We want state governors who have power over lands in their states to handle the issue of the right of way.
“Right of way is our major challenge, not funding. The community people are insisting on compensation before we can bring down their structures and to continue the road construction.
“But hopefully, we hope that between June next year we should complete the Cross River end while by November same year, the Akwa Ibom angle will be complete.”