IBAKA SUPERHIGHWAY: A VISIONARY CONCEPT TO ENHANCE ACCESSIBILITY OF IBOM DEEP SEAPORT
By: Emmanuel Nicholas
….The Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City is a signature project of the Udom Emmanuel administration.
Considering that Industrialization has formed the focal point of his governance, it is fair to view it as uppermost in his heart.
That is to say by inference, that, everything Governor Udom Emmanuel sets about to achieve in his tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State is largely anchored on Industrialization, with the Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City projects being an integral part of the actualization of the celebrated, composite 5 point agenda that cuts across critical sectors of the state’s economy.
Without a doubt, the Governor has made these lofty objectives more realistic by the volume of quality commitment he so far has invested in the Ibom Deep Seaport mega project. Imagine that, in prospecting the multicomponent Seaport and industrial City project, the Governor generously approved the construction of a 55.5 km superhighway in 2016. This was a discreet act in providence considering the strategic role a road like that will play in advancing the functionality of the project at the preliminary, midterm and longterm courses
The Superhighway begins from Ukpenekang in Ibeno and empties onto the East West Road in Oron, with a flyover connecting it to Okopedi – Oron Dualization in what could best be described as a masterful web of quality roads aimed at making dreams a reality.
So far, the Construction firm handling the project has cleared and sand-filled well over 17km of the road expanse, providing initial access for the commencement of Construction of the Port considering the swampy nature of the terrain.
The Road which provides access to the Ibom Industrial City traverses four Local Government Areas that are closest to the Seaport and industrial City at the Southern coast and moves on into the northern border of the state. The Local Government Areas along that axis or within the stretch include Ibeno, Esit Eket and Mbo, Udung Uko and ends up in Oron Local Government Area .
By the conception and strategic design of the Superhighway, it provides three exit points to commuters: Those going to Rivers State from the port will use the exit window on Eket- Ibeno Road and connect back to the East West Road.
On the other hand, traffic from the port to the Eastern Region of Abia ,Imo , Anambra and Enugu will be most comfortable using the Mbo exit point, also leading to the East West Road through Uya Oron. Hence the flyover becomes a nexus of options for those who might choose to go back to Uyo through the Okopedi – Oron, Okopedi – Uyo Dual carriageway
The Ibaka superhighway at completion will be a 12 lane ultramodern thoroughfare with 6 lanes on either side of the divide. 4 of the lanes will be medial speed lanes and will have a toll gate. The tollgate itself is expected to be another economic net for income on full operation. Whereas the other 2 lanes on either side will be service lanes for exits into surrounding communities. The road concept being one of the latest in the world, provision had also been made for rail track development.
On recent inspection visit to the site by a team of regulators and partners led by the Director-General of ICRC, Mr. Azuwah, to see the level of work done, strong assurances were given that the Ibom Deep Seaport and Industrial City project, which runs through Mbo, Ibeno and Esit Ekid waterways, will commence operations in March 2020, with President Muhammadu Buhari expected to be on hand for the flag off of the operations.
The goodness is that, as announced by the State Government, already two port construction giants from China have won the building bid of the seaport.
It must be emphasized that a superhighway of this nature has countless benefits. Other than the immediate benefit of facilitating fluid movement of personnel, goods and freight from the port with associated income, it holds innumerable advantages not only to Akwa Ibom State, but to the rest of Nigeria and by extension the more landlocked West African countries of Mali, Chad , Cameron and Benin .
Due to its complimentary natural draught, the Deep seaport is designed to be a transshipment hub, the biggest and best in West Africa. This implies that large numbers of ships will berth at Ibom Sea Port and transfer cargo to smaller ships that will then feed the other ports on the West and Central African coast.
This automatically implies enhanced volume of traffic from other countries straight to Akwa Ibom and to the Sea Port .
The idea of a superhighway of this magnitude must be lauded. This will be complemented by the already excellent road network in Akwa Ibom State which the present administration is dedicatedly upgrading and expanding to all nooks and crannies in expectation of the greater future.
There is the anticipation that huge trucks would roar through streets and roads in the peaceful towns and cities in Akwa Ibom, turning the state into some sort of a dense jungle of unperturbed traffic.
Besides, the industrial layout will host many manufacturing factories generating diverse commodities for intra and international merchandize.
The essence of the superhighway therefore becomes more obvious as it will serve as an open ended corridor for evacuation of goods from this industrial district to other states. Besides, where raw material may exist in other distant parts of the country and state, the highway will serve to feed the industries with their daily supplies .
The railway component of the highway is an added incentive by extrapolation. All over the world and through several ages, railways have proven to be highly efficient in aiding industrialization. Its cost effectiveness and easy movement of resources with a – 0.5 accident ratio makes it enviable. Rail transport saves cost and reduce the risk of losing your goods to Road accident.
The toll gate will serve as an efficient source of Internally Generated Revenue for the State. That aside, the 2 outer lanes on either side of the road easily pinpoints to the rapid development of surrounding towns and empowerment of youths.
That the federal government expressed approval and adoption of the project emphasizes its relevance in the socioeconomic discourse of the country. In particular, it would be an understatement to say that the mega project with its manufacturing and allied services the industries will certainly be a blessing that Akwa Ibom people will remember the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration for through generations.