By Chinelo Obogo
For Mrs. Mary Effiong, deputy head teacher of Holy Trinity Primary School, Mbiakong, Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, going to school every morning used to be a herculean task. A journey that usually took an average of 20 minutes gradually stretched to over one hour because the Mbiaobong Road, which led to the school, was in a deplorable state. Pedestrians who used the road, particularly her pupils, suffered severe hardship. No one went early to school.
Part of Mrs. Effiong’s duty was to coordinate school activities for the day and ensure everything was ready before students begin to arrive. But the condition of the Trinity Primary School road, which linked her school and other villages, made going to work very difficult, as it had remained bad for many years. Due to this problem, the school resumed very late, setting a bad tone for the children.
During the rainy season, the road was usually impassable. Many a time, commuters were forced to abandon their vehicles, resorting to commercial motorbikes.
Today, however, the story of Mbiaobong community has changed. Teachers, pupils and members of the community can heave a sigh of relief, as the Niger Delta Development Commission has come to their rescue with the construction of the Holy Trinity Primary School Road. The construction of the 1,200 metre-road in Mbiaobong has also imparted positively, not only on the lives of students, but on those living in the community.
Mrs Effiong noted: “Before this road was constructed, I used to drive to school. But at a point, the road became so bad that driving to the school became impossible. During the rainy season, I would park my car along the road and walk to the school. On some days when I would take the risk to drive along the bad road, it always affected my vehicle. But, today, as you can see, I can drive to school again. I am very happy that I can now drive freely to and back from school..”
Mrs. Effiong said for the road to fully serve its purpose of transforming the social and economic lives of the people, the commission should award another contract for the extension of the road to link other villages.
“NDDC has done well by rebuilding this road and making our school accessible, down from Nwaniba. But it is unfortunate that they had to stop the road half way. I hope they have plans to continue this good work, because there is another narrow bridge that is very dangerous. So, I think they should come to the aid of the villagers so they can access other villages,” she said.
Aniefiok Udoh, a community leader in Mbiaobong, agreed that the road had added tremendous value to the people and the community in terms of reducing the cost of transportation. He commended the NDDC for constructing the road, saying that pupils and teachers of the school now pay only N30.00 to school as against the N50.00 usually charged by motorists before the construction of the road.
He added: “Before now it was difficult to walk along this road during the rainy season. Even during the dry season, before you get to your destination, you are already muddy or dusty, as the case may be. We are grateful to God and NDDC for coming to our aid. Our problem is now half solved, as the farm produce can now be transported with ease to the market. Soon, we hope that the cost of foodstuffs will begin to come down too.”
He also pleaded with the commission to urgently award another contract for the extension of the road to link other villages.
The people of Uquo, a rural community in Esit-Eket Local Government Area, are also grateful to the commission for coming to their aid with solar powered streetlights. Many residents noted that the solar projects awarded by the NDDC in July have brought tremendous social and economic values to their lives.
Economic activities have increased, and there is considerable excitement among the people who have continued to express their joy as a result of projects being done by the commission. The elders and youths in Esit-Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state are full of praises for the Federal Government for lightning up their communities with solar powered street lights through the NDDC.
A community leader, Mr Simon Okon, said the NDDC needed to be applauded for keeping the hopes of the villagers alive with the provision of the street lights. He said since the communities and the entire Esit-Eket Local Governments have been without light for upward of six months, the street lights have been the only source of social integration .
“Frankly speaking, we need to commend the NDDC for complementing the efforts of the federal government in ensuring that the dividends of democracy got to the rural communities through the provision of basic amenities,” Okon said
The head of Ekid-Offiong Community, Obong Etuedu Ikot, also commended the NDDC for its complementing role in the provision of basic amenities in the communities, adding that the commission had lived up to expectation in the community. He urged NDDC to do more in the provision of access roads to link villages to ease commerce and transportation of goods and services.