By Edet Okpo
Apparently worried by the porous condition of the ever busy Calabar- Itu High way and its huge negative impact on the socio- economic activities of the State, the Deputy Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Princess Felicia Bassey,has sponsored a motion for the restoration and revival of the abandoned ferry Services plying the Calabar-Oron route for ease of transportation between Akwa Ibom and Cross River State.
Princess Bassey who moved the Motion at the Plenary of Thursday, October 10, 2019 recalled that prior to 1977, when Calabar- Itu Road was opened, the only means of transportation linking Calabar to the mainland part of the then Cross River State were ferries plying the Calabar-Oron waterways.
According to the Deputy Speaker, the ferry transportation route was slowly asphyxiated by the shifting of Preference from Sea to road usage and in the Course of the time, the Calabar-Oron ferry route which had grown to become a hub of inter- States commercial and tourist activities was abandoned with attendant losses in revenue running into Millions of Naira.
She lamented that in the last few years, the condition of the Calabar- Itu Road has significantly declined owing to little or no maintenance of the road which has become largely impassable, thereby multiplying the woes of road users.
The Okobo representative stated that the delay and untold hardship being encounter in traveling from Akwa Ibom to Cross River State by road would have been avoided or reduced if the ferry Services were operational.
” Revamping the Calabar-Oron ferry Services holds the prospect of improving our internally generated revenue through tourism. It is the safest mode of transportation. It provides convenience to the passengers with little or no accidents and one will not need to hire a Car at destination port as the ferry can take cars, caravans,camper vans,bikes and even pets, while Children can stretch their legs during the journey.” Princess Bassey noted.
Explaining further while addressing the Speaker and other Honourable Members during the Plenary, Princess Bassey hinted that non availability of ferries be plying the Calabar-Oron route often force dwellers of the Coastal cities and their environs to resort to the use of speedboats to travel to Calabar which Journeys often result in deaths and grevious injury arising from boats mishap.
Giving more reasons to buttress her points, Princess Bassey maintained that since heavy and bulk goods can be transported easily at minimal cost through water transportation, restoring or reviving the Calabar-Oron ferry Services will drastically reduced substantial wear and tear caused by heavy vehicular movements along Calabar -Itu Highway thereby saving the road from further collosal damage.
Advancing her reasons on the necessity of the motion , the Woman Lawmaker informed the Assembly that though the maintainance cost in the rail and road transport were quite high, the maintenance cost of water transport is relatively cheap. She explained that water remains the most easy and cheap mode of transportation, unlike the rail and road transportation where we do not have to construct waterways because Rivers and Seas are given by nature.
” Wheareas during natural calamities like flood and rains, when rail and road transportation are disrupted, relief operations can be operated through water transportation. Since our teaming peasant farmers can only convey their resources like farm produce and aqua foods to the cities through transportation, those residing or doing business along Calabar -Oron Coastal areas need ferries to move their produce and goods to viable markets. It is on this note that I hereby moved that this Honourable House pass a resolution that His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel should revive the Calabar-Oron ferry route.”the Motion was seconded by Rt.Hon. Uduak Udoudoh, Honourable Member, representing Ikot Abasi/ Eastern Obolo State Constituency.
The Motion was however committed to the House Committee on Works and Transport for further Legislative actions.