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Akwa Ibom community laments destruction of houses over road construction

Residents of Ekim Itam community in Itu Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State have lamented the destruction of their houses and means of livelihood over…

Residents of Ekim Itam community in Itu Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State have lamented the destruction of their houses and means of livelihood over the construction of Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road.

They are seeking that Julius Berger Construction company stop work on its axis of the 19.9km federal road.

Angry indigenes of the community accused the company of pulling down their houses, shops and destroying their sources of livelihood.

They also decried incidents of flood caused by the activities of the company, alleging that it has been using soldiers to intimidate and stop them from demanding for their rights.

Youths,  old men and women of the area turned out in their hundreds at the Ekim Itam junction in protest with placards carrying various inscriptions.

Some of the inscriptions read, ‘No compensation for flood victims, No work for Julius Berger’, ‘Our Properties have been destroyed by flood’, ‘Our belongings overtaken by flood’, ‘No payment, No work’, ‘Federal Ministry of  Works and Housing restore our sources of Income’ among others.

Mr. Bernard Okon Ekpenyong, the proprietor of Esty Nodu Petroleum Ltd, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, accused Julius Berger of causing hardship on the community and disrupting their businesses.

‘‘The issue is that Julius Berger, which is working on this road opened up drainages that pushed water into people’s compounds and destroyed our properties.

‘‘I lost over 45,000 litres of petrol, 20,000 litres of AGO and 12,000 litres of kerosene  because of the flood, which destroyed my tanks. I also lost properties in my hotel situated not far from here. I have 17 rooms in my hotel and the items in these rooms have been lost to flood water.

‘‘We have lost virtually everything. We are homeless and hopeless so we won’t allow Julius Berger to continue with the construction work until they sit with the community to resolve this matter.

‘I have written several letters to the company on this matter. The community also wrote many letters and they sent their officials to inspect the damage.

‘‘They said it is insurance that would handle the matter but later they said it is the federal government that would pay us compensation for the damages. They keep dribbling us.

‘‘In fact, we are calling on the Minister of Works, Fashola to come to our aid because Julius Berger is denying its responsibility,’’ Ekpenyong said.

When contacted, the Corporate Manager of Julius Berger, Mr. Moses Duku, told our correspondent that  he could not comment on the issues raised by the community.

He promised to give a feedback after a proper briefing by the Uyo office of the company on the issues raised by the community.