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Gov Ayade responds to Pulse' story on decaying Calabar, blames rains for bad roads
Cross River Governor Ben Ayade responds to Pulse' feature story on crumbling infrastructure (Punch)
Governor Ben Ayade has promised Cross Riverians that he is working to fix the roads and streetlights blighting the tourism brand of the 'People's Paradise'.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has described a Pulse report detailing the crumbling infrastructure in the capital city of Calabar and elsewhere in the state as “done in bad taste and borne out of ignorance or mischief.”

In a story with the caption: ‘Calabar, Nigeria’s tourism capital, has fallen’ Pulse shared the tale of a once pristine and charming city, now morphing into a picture of collapsing roads, dark streets, filth and despair.

Pulse had also embarked on the hazardous road trip from Calabar to Ogoja, a journey of some 300 kilometers, while sampling the opinions of Cross Riverians every step of the way, in order to have a firsthand feel of a state once renowned as ‘The People's Paradise’.

Fixing the roads

However, in an emailed response through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita, Ayade who was elected for a second term in office in March of 2019, says the collapsing 8 Mile stretch of road cited in our story “is part of the Calabar-Itu-Uyo Highway, a federal road for which the Buhari administration announced award of contract to Julius Berger to fix. The entire stretch of that road from the Calabar end to the Uyo end is in bad shape.

“Perennially, especially during December, motorists are often trapped along the road. To address this problem and in spite of it being a federal road, the Ayade-led administration decided to not just fix the Tinapa-Odukpani junction section of that road but to also dualise it.
 The Calabar-Odukpani road has all but collapsed (Pulse)
“The contract for the dualisation is being handled by Sematec, the same firm the FG (Federal Government) used to rehabilitate the Calabar-Ikom Highway.

"90 percent of the earthwork has been achieved. About 10 major culverts also constructed. The contractor is waiting for the culverts to set before priming the road for asphalting, which will be completed by December.

“I am certain that you must have seen heavy construction equipment along the road as you drove on it. So the ongoing construction work coupled with the endless downpour in this part of the country is partly responsible for its current state.

“Bear in mind that you can’t make omelet without breaking eggs.

“As for Calabar South and Eta-Agbor, if you had asked questions you would have been informed that it is a perennial problem which government tackles every year during the dry season ahead of the carnival.

“Because the ground is very wet at this time of the year, any remedial work done now will not last. So at the onset of the dry season, those roads like every other road in Calabar will be fixed.
 Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade, President Muhammadu Buhari and other governors during the inauguration of a rice seedling plant in Calabar in 2018 (VON) VON
Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade, President Muhammadu Buhari and other governors during the inauguration of a rice seedling plant in Calabar in 2018 (VON)
“It is interesting that in your haste to tar the government black, you failed to notice that the entire stretch of the Murtala Muhammed Highway, beginning from WAPI Junction right through Mary Slessor has had a complete asphalt overlay.

“The same thing for IBB through Marian. The same thing for Eta-Agbor to the airport.

"Also many inner streets in State Housing have been asphalted”.

Streetlights that do not work
Pulse had also reported that the streetlights in the south of Calabar are falling over and no longer work at night time. The governor tells Pulse that vandals should be held responsible for the darkness.

“As for the streetlights, the streetlights around the entire Calabar metropolis with the exception of Calabar South, work. The reason they don’t work in Calabar South is that almost all the entire power infrastructure, especially cables have been vandalized.
 The Calabar carnival often takes the world to Cross River at year's end (Cross River Tourism Board)
The Calabar carnival often takes the world to Cross River at year's end (Cross River Tourism Board)
“However, the governor has asked for estimates to run new cables round the south. It should also interest you that the NIPP sub-station, a FG Project, was just recently completed after the state governor intervened by making money available for its execution.

“My advice is that you try and keep an open mind when doing a report of this nature in the future”, Gov Ayade says.
Professor Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade, 50, was a university lecturer before his foray into politics. He has been widely criticized for destroying acres of farmland as he floats the idea of a 275km superhighway that analysts say would leave a cash strapped, civil service state in further debt.

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