Hoodlums have killed at least five persons this month at a diversion by Ikot Ebak village in Mkpat Enin Local Council of Akwa Ibom on the dilapidated Abak-Ekparakwa-Ikot Abasi federal highway.
The road was diverted following the excavation of soil on a 200m stretch by the contractor handling the rehabilitation of the highway, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CCECC.
The hoodlums according to residents of the area, have resorted to robbing and kidnapping unsuspecting commuters plying between Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River states who regularly use the road.
Some of the residents told newsmen who visited the area yesterday that the bushy diversion, also lack the presence of security personnel while the narrow road has also become dilapidated due to a sudden increase in vehicular traffic.
The residents who lamented the activities of the hoodlums claimed that hundreds of unsuspecting commuters have either been robbed or abducted by the hoodlums who exploit the commuters’ ignorance of the terrain to intimidate them.
They told newsmen that in one of the incidents, a kidnap victim who recognised one of his abductors was killed by the hoodlums after the sum of N200,000 was allegedly collected from him.
Two other abducted commuters were said to have been killed by their abductors on Thursday last week because they could not part with an undisclosed sum of money demanded by the hoodlums.
The residents harped on the need for adequate information and deployment of security personnel on the diversion while calling for a more motorable diversion or alternative road.
Some of the drivers said most of their colleagues have resorted to using the Etinan-ONNA- Ikot Akpaden road though longer but safer as they could no longer guarantee the safety of their passengers on the Abak-Ikot Abasi route.
State Police Public Relations Officer, MacDon Odiko in a telephone interview said such reports were yet to reach the command but promised to work on the information.
The Federal Comptroller of Works in the state, Nkeruwem Ukpong did not give details on the progress and schedule of work on the road but in replying to a text message from Correspondents said that, “I am just from the site, the contractor is working.”
The bad state of the Abak-Ikparakwa-Ikot Abasi highway would compound the woes of commuters between Rivers,Akwa Ibom and Cross River states as the Calabar-Itu highway, another federal road passing through the two latter states has become almost impassable.
Also with no concrete assurance from the Federal Government and the Police on plans to either conclude rehabilitation works soon or provide a better diversion and secure the diversion, the woes of commuters on that road is bound to continue.