By Emmanuel Ebong
No fewer than 486 rural access roads are billed for construction by the World Bank, Agence Franchise Development and Federal Government in Akwa Ibom between this year and 2026.
Already, work on two road models have commenced at Ibesikpo Asutan and Ini Local Government Areas of the state.
The Akwa Ibom project coordinator of Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Pastor Gideon Akpan, made the disclosure in Uyo while giving an overview of the project components during a one-day stakeholders’ strategic meeting with local government policy makers in the state.
Akpan explained that the roads have since been screened and approved by the World Bank for construction in all the local government areas of the state to assist farmers in their agricultural production for marketing and processing.
The state project coordinator said the rural access roads designs have been done and that all the local government areas have been captured in the project implementation, noting that the stakeholders meeting was for awareness creation for them to take ownership of the project.
He stated that the gesture was aimed at opening up the rural areas for farmers to evacuate their agricultural produce for sales and reduce stress in the course of transporting produce to the urban centres for patronage.
He said, in the few months, work on the project execution would commence on the project that is domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and Akwa Ibom Ministry of Agriculture since counterpart funding has been perfected by the state government.
Akpan noted that rural access roads construction would also take care of bridges and culverts, noting that the expected benefits will be in the areas of more income to farmers; reduction in travelling time; maximum utilization of Agro-produce across the value chains; reduction of post harvest losses, amongst others.
Under Agro-Logistics, he said Naira Market in Ikono Local Government Area has been designated for farmers in Ini, Ikono, Obot Akara and Ikot Ekpene for the sales of their agricultural produce such as cassava and cocoa, while Ekponwa Market in Nsit Ibom has been designated for farmers in Ibesikpo Asutan, Nsit Ibom and Nsit Ubuim to market their agricultural produce with ease.
He cited Ebighi market in Mbo Local Government Area as a centre for both fishermen and farmers to sell their agricultural produce with Ikot Akpatek Market in Onna Local Government Area designated for farmers in that axis, while Okoita Market in Ibiono Ibom has been set aside for those from Itu and Uruan.
Akpan said Obot Market in Essien Udim Local Government Area has equally been set aside for farmers in Oruk Anam, Ukanafun and Abak to market their agricultural produce, noting that the project is being carried out to ensure that an average Akwa Ibom person steps out of poverty.
He thanked Gov Udom Emmanuel for providing counterpart funding for the project implementation in the state, advising local government policy makers to close ranks with the state government for the successful implementation in the state.
The commissioner for agriculture, Dr Offiong Offor, while declaring open the special meeting, charged stakeholders to accept RAAMP as their development project that would impact on the lives of every Akwa Ibom person.
Offor was optimistic that the development projects, on completion, would complement the efforts of Governor Emmanuel’s infrastructural development in the state.
Her words: “We all need to be aware of what is going on in the state. When our rural roads are fixed everybody will benefit from it. As team members, we have different roles to play for the success of the scheme in the state.”
The commissioner, flanked by the permanent secretary, Mrs Mary Ukoette Bassey, advised the local government policy makers in attendance to ask questions when necessary forclarification to enable them take ownership of the projects at the grassroots.
She explained that the special meeting was to create awareness for them to be carried along in the project for success to be recorded in the state, advising them to support RAAMP to carry out its objectives so that all sections of the state are taken care of in the scheme implementation.