Two communities in the Okwanwo National Park; Bashu Community and Okwanwo Community – all in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State have said they are daily being threatened by a 30-year-old wooden bridge that may soon give way.
Residents of the communities who rely on the bridge said they have lost their farm produce and no fewer than five of their members when they fall into the river.
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The local short bridge was donated by a World Bank agency in the early 1990s. The project was executed based on the fact that the communities host the Okwanwo National Park.
A visit by our reporter confirmed that the bridge can no longer stand the test of time as it has now deteriorated terribly and the people have no other link road except pathways inside the forest.
The 30-metre long locally made wooden bridge was repaired by the community with little assistance from the Poverty Alleviation Programme in 2003 according to Chief Frederick Agbor, a native of the community.
He said the people used to paddle on canoes to access the other side of the river which is known as “Okorn River”, until 2003, when the wooden bridge was reconstructed.
“Before the advent of the bridge, we used canoes to paddle ourselves and people used to drown on several occasions but with the community efforts and assistance from the Poverty Alleviation Programme of the World Bank, the bridge was finished in 2003.
“Presently, the bridge is in a deplorable state and in a few years from now, it may collapse and without help, we’ll go back to where we started. If you look at the pillars, you’ll see that they are weak.
“A month ago, someone fell from the bridge. Only motorcycles can maneuver on the bridge,” Agbor said.
He pleaded for assistance from the state and federal governments and non-governmental organisations to help give them a bridge that will stand the test of time.
“Right from 1960 when Nigeria obtained her independence, there is no government facility in the community,” he said.