By PATRICK ABANG, Calabar –
Commuters in Cross River State have expressed worry over the worsening insecurity along Calabar-Ikom Highway following an attack on the former Cross River SUBEB boss, Hon Omaga Odo along the Uyanga axis at the weekend.
Park operators, mangers, drivers as well as commuters expressed fears saying that the road was no longer safe as there seems to be attacks on a weekly basis on the location where at least 14 persons have been abducted by gunmen.
Speaking to our reporter on Monday, The Park Manger of Ikom /Calabar Park ( MCC ) , Mr Rex Abang said the incident has deeply and adversely affected their activities, adding that it was no longer business as usual.
Abang said : “Most people who travel now only do so because its necessary and urgent too , a lot of people now prefer to leave very early or don’t travel at all.
“We now have low turn out of passengers as many prefer to simply way bill items because we have noticed an upsurge in the aspect of the business.
“A lot of the passengers are now afraid to travel , but our appeal to government is to deploy a contractor to the location to fix the bad portion , I sincerely want to commend the police especially the tactical team of the Anti Cultism and Kidnapping Squad ACKS ( Dragon Squad).
“The Squad has restored confidence but how long will they be there , because I believe it is only their presence that can restore calm to the area , but how long will they remain there ,” Abang said.
The Manager Calabar/Obudu park ( Etta Agbor), Mr Joseph Uzembe told our reporter that they now stopped loading vehicles once its 2pm for fear of being attacked along the Uyanga axis.
He disclosed that some government officials has earlier visited them in a bid to hold a security meeting with them but nothing has been done till now.
Uzembe revealed that passengers turn out has reduced since the first and second incident adding that now that there was a third incident.
” Only time will tell what will become of their business , as we ply that route on a daily basis.
“We are ready to corporate with the security agencies to restore normalcy to the area, but there should be remedial works on the portion of that road , because without that , you just have to slow down when you reach that point and that is the window the hoodlums have to attack.
“But truly I must commend the men of anti Kidnapping and other security agencies for their efforts , we know some of the criminals also use motorcycle , I believe that if the security operatives get more support from the government , they will do more.
“Let the Cross River state government also equip the anti Kidnapping Squad to deliver on their mandate, their presence is what is keeping us now, ” Uzembe said.
A commuter at the park, who pleaded anonymity said that the Military should do what they sent them to do and stop molesting people in vehicle because of their hairstyles, adding that road blocks should not be used to humiliate passengers.
When contacted , the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Irene Ugbo, who confirmed the recent attack on the former SUBEB boss ,Hon Omaga Odo, said it was quite unfortunate adding that the Abdulhameed Awodi led Dragon Squad has also been deployed to the route.
She also revealed that personnel will be there until normalcy returns and other strategic operations which she cannot discuss would be carried out consistently in the area and beyond .
SP Ugbo who called for calm , urged the drivers and commuters to move freely, adding that there was no cause for alarm.
It would be recall that Hon Omaga Odo was traveling from Calabar on Saturday, when he was attacked by hoodlums, who shot at him severally, riddling the SUV with bullets. Although, no lives were lost but the vehicle was badly damaged.