By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Ekim Itam community in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has staged a protest urging Julius Berger Construction company to stop work on its axis of the 19.9km Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene federal road.
Angry indigenes of the community, in protest observed on Thursday, accused the construction giants of pulling down their houses, shops and destroying their sources of livelihood without compensation.
They also decried incidents of flood caused by the activities of the company, alleging that Julius Berger has been using soldiers to intimidate and stop them from demanding for their rights.
Youth including old men and women of the area turned out in their hundreds at the Ekim Itam junction with placards carrying various inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read, ‘No compensation for flood victims, No work for Julius Berger’, ‘Our Properties have been destroyed by flood’, ‘Our belongings overtaken by flood’, ‘No payment, No work’, ‘Federal Ministry of Works and Housing restore our sources of Income’ among others.
Mr. Bernard Okon Ekpenyong, the proprietor of Esty Nodu Petroleum Ltd, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, accused Julius Berger of bringing untold hardship on the community and disrupting his businesses.
”The issue is that Julius Berger which is working on this road opened up drainages that pushed water into peoples compounds and destroyed our properties.
”I lost over 45,000 litres of petrol, 20,000 litres of AGO and 12,000 litres of kerosene DPK because of the flood water which destroyed my tanks. I also lost properties in my hotel situated not far from here. I have 17 rooms in my hotel and the items in these rooms have been lost to flood water.
”We have lost virtually everything. We are homeless and hopeless so we won’t allow Julius Berger to continue with the construction work until they sit with the community to resolve this matter.
‘I have written several letters to the company on this matter. The community also wrote many letters and they sent their officials to inspect the damage.
”They said it is insurance that would handle the matter but later they said it is the federal government that would pay for us compensation for the damages. They keep dribbling us.
”In fact we are calling on the minister of works, Fashola to come to our aid because Julius Berger is denying responsibility”, Ekpenyong said.
The corporate manager of Julius Berger, Mr. Moses Duku who spoke with our correspondent on telephone from Kaduna said he could not comment on the issues raised by the community.
He promised to give a feedback after a proper briefing by the Uyo office of the company on the issues raised by the community.