BY: Obio Monday
Ukwa Eburutu, one of the ancestral clans of Efik Eburutu is arguable the most neglected communities in Cross River State by government at levels.
A community with a population of about 29,000 persons who are predominantly farmers has for years been abandoned by successive governments.
The community is bounded to the north by Biakpan in Biase LGA, to the east by Ikot Okpora/Ikot Ana axis of the Cross River, to the south by Ito community in Odukpani LGA and to the west by Iheochawa Igbo of Okpo-ihe, Achara and Ututu in Arochukwu LGA of Abia State.
A visit to the community leaves many asking if the community is part of Nigeria due to the near absence of government presence. The minimum basic amenities that sustains human life and the economy of a locality- water, road, hospital, electricity- is lacking or non-functional in Ukwa Eburutu. Over the years, the community had depended on stagnant streams in the community for drinking water, cooking and other uses. The water, the unsafest in any part of the world is not only very dirty, it contains visible particles such as degenerated leaves, sticks and dead insects. The invisible ones can only be told if taken to the laboratory for examination, which one can bet contains microorganisms which are dangerous to human health. In 1993 or so, the community lost about 50 persons to the outbreak of cholera which was attributable to the most unsafe drinking water the people of the community drinks.
During dry season, the streams dries up and the community is left to its fate. Those who have the strength, treks about 25km to the next available streams of Afiang, Abasuba and shallow wells which are not also safe for animals talk more of humans!
Despite water being declared as a basic human right by the United Nations, this basic necessity of life has eluded Ukwa Eburutu community. To make matters worse, the community’s effort at village levels to drill borehole water has yielded no result.
In 2008, the community thought their years of suffering was gradually coming to an end when the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) awarded contract for the construction of a solar powered borehole water but the project was abandoned, dashing their hopes of portable drinking water. Their woes continues till date, with hopes that government intervenes and save this community from an imminent outbreak of diseases.
Traveling to Ukwa Eburutu has always left a very sour taste in the mouth of those who dare embark on the journey, especially first time visitors. Odukpani LGA headquarters, which Ukwa Eburutu is administratively under is about 10-20 minutes drive from Calabar, the Cross River State capital. But sadly, to get to Ukwa Eburutu, a community under Odukpani, takes about 10-15 hours! This pitiable situation can only be attributed to lack of road network to the community, and not the distance. To get to the community is hellish as the road is not only unmotorable but a death trap!
Having seen the suffering his people go through in trying to access their community through road, the Ayara Brothers (as I chose to call them), decided to make life a little more easier for his people. Prof. Ndem Ayara Ndiyo, one time Economic Adviser to the Cross River State government and incumbent Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar and his brother, Engr. Esu U. Ayara, a businessman and chief executive officer (CEO) Esuvik Nigeria Ltd decided to construct a 30km road from Ukwa Eburutu to the bank of the Cross River, directly opposite Ufut community in Biase LGA. The road which the cost is yet to be estimated, according to Engr. Esu Ayara in an exclusive interview with Grassroot Reporters comes with many culverts, spur. The road which is at its route tracing stage would be the ‘life saver’ for the people of Ukwa Eburutu if it is eventually completed.
But this gigantic project may not be completed if government doesn’t come in to provide whole or reasonable percentage of funding of the project. Apart from the route of the road being swampy, which requires sand-filling; to access the road, a bridge to link the road to Ufut community or a pontoon is much needed to make this road accessible. All these requires so much money which the financiers may not have.
To this end, the federal, state and local governments should as a matter of urgency come to the rescue in order for this effort by these great sons of Ukwa Eburutu not to be in vain as the community has for years, suffered untold hardship as a result of lack basic amenities.
Obio Monday is the Editor-in-Chief of Grassroot Reporters. He writes from Calabar, Cross River State
He can be reached on+2347033996028