By Uduak Akai
Arrangement is in top gear for the Akwa Ibom Government to partner French Developing Agency on Rural Access and Agricultural Market Programme (RAAMP) in providing rural roads that would enable easy evacuation of farm produce to the needed centres.
The commissioner for works and fire service, Professor Eno Ibanga who made this known while playing host to the delegation of RAAMP executive recently in his office,maintained that Akwa Ibom Government under the able leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel is poised to providing standard infrastructure, especially road network in all the local government areas of the state no matter how remotely located for easy evacuation of farm produce from the rural areas to the urban centres, adding that standard road network, provides means for adequate movement of farm produce to urban centres, and at an affordable prices, thus making food affordable and available for the citizens.
Professor Ibanga explained that rural roads in the state are made with specifications to ensure that they stand the test of time, emphasizing that government is not in a haste to providing temporary comfort to its citizens, hence the construction of enduring infrastructure in all nooks and crannies of the state.
The works and fire service boss pointed out that already,government was doing its best in linking the rural communities to urban centres as evidenced in the numerous ongoing roadsnetwork construction in these areas.
He disclosed government’s readiness to partner RAAMP to link roads to the six identified agro-based hubs in the state; calling on them to bring their blueprint to bear in line with government specifications to enable government interface and incorporate into the road map network of the state.
The commissioner further advised RAAMP to liaise with Rural Development Ministry to have a robust programme with the aim of improving a sustainable project for the rural communities, even as it carries out campaign to enlighten the rural dwellers to embrace the programme thereby reducing unnecessary delay in the implementation.
The representative of the national coordinator of RAAMP, Mr Bukar Gana, said the mandate of the agency is to improve roads and agricultural marketing in Nigeria, stating that in Akwa Ibom six hubs have been identified, hence their partnership with the state government to provide rural roads that would enable easy evacuation of farm produce to the needed centres.
Gana, an engineer, who hinted that the programme is financed by the World Bank with counterpart fund from Akwa Ibom Government, maintained that the team is founded on three core values of rural roads, agricultural produce (crops) and marketing to the rural dwellers to enhance food sufficiency and bettermentof living standard for the rural populace.
The national coordinator said the visit was to look into the sustainability of the programme and to as well seek advice from government geared towards the successful implementation of the programme in the state, and sued for cooperation and support from relevant stakeholders and indeed entire Akwa Ibom citizens to deliver on their set goal.
On his part, the road sector advisory consultant, Mr Maysan Abedin, intimated the commissioner that the Ministry of Works and Fire Service is a key stakeholder in the programme and solicited that rural road authority be created to take adequate care of the rural roads.
The consultant said he was in the team on advisory role capacity as the bulk of the facilitation is saddled on the Works and Fire Service Ministry, calling on state government to create rural farm roads in the identified areas for accessibility.
The state project coordinator, Pastor Gideon Akpan, said Akwa Ibom State is one of the 13 states that RAAMP programme is implemented, saying that the major aim of the programme is to ensure continuity, thus the need to involve the consultant to see that all rural roads earmarked for the programme are executed in line with specifications, while appreciating the commissioner for the warm reception accorded them and his pieces of advice, as well as looking forward to a cordial partnership among all partners throughout the period of the programme.