At Last, A Dual Carriageway Into Kalabari

Blessing Wikina

Long before the 1980s, the only motorable road in Kalabariland was the Buguma/ Degema road. Even though a road also connected Abonemma to Obonoma, there was no road into Kalabari from the rest parts of Rivers State.

The Kalabaris enjoyed their natural distinctive profiles as Islands in Rivers State, a status that they inherited from the “City State” days of the colonial era.

 This gave them a stand out advantage over other places, as they signed treaties and had both economic and diplomatic protocols with our prowling colonial masters.

A visitor into Kalabari areas will stand in awe seeing buildings and architectural patterns xeroxed from Spain, Portugal, Britain etc.

Degema Town, known historically as The Consulate, was a Provincial Headquarters, and till date still host one of the oldest Prisons in Nigeria, as it’s own FG infrastructure, but it wasn’t connected by road to the rest parts of the state, not until the late 1980s.

Access to Degema was either through Abua Hulk, or via the sea from River Sombriero, or any other waterside point.

Writing in his Book in1991, “Bush Paths”, Keith Arrowsmith, recollected how ” the new Colonial District Officer” (D.O), went to resume duty in Degema.

“….leaving my car behind in Port Harcourt I travelled by a Launch named Dorathy, with Philip, Boniface, my personal belongings etc…” adding that “Degema was a pleasing little enclave in a vast wilderness of Mangrove swamps and creeks on the Eastern fringe of the enormous Niger Delta…”

But all these scenario changed, when the ruling Federal Military Government, via the connect of some big Kalabari indigenes serving in the Government, including Chief Sumner Dagogo-Jack, the first Kalabari-born Deputy Governor of Rivers State, and the charismatic Alabo T.O.Graham-Douglas, prevailed on the FG to build a road leading into Kalabarland.

And upon approval, the contract was awarded to an Italian firm known as Messrs PGH, that came with a novel technology of building roads in the mangrove swamps.

They dug up and excavated the chicoco mud down to sharp sand level, before pumping more sand to cover the excavated  canal….before building of what is today known as the Emohua-Tema-Buguma-Degema-Abonnema road.

It was a single-lane road up till 2023, with a Bridge by Ahiakwo market crossing the creek, and another Bridge connecting Samaa to Tema stretch of the road, hooking the colonial Degema-Buguma road.

But all that is set to change, as Kalabaris, will be driving home on a Dualised Carriageway, which Gov Sim Fubara had just completed.

While speaking with the Media on activities to celebrate Gov Sim Fubara First Year in office, Dr Tammy Danagogo, Secretary to State Govt, and Chairman of the Planning Committee, announced that only 20% of the road was done by the past Government, but Gov Fubara completed 80% of the road, and had paid for it in full accordingly.

“As a kalabari Man, I am excited that the Governor had no hesitation in approving the continuation of work on that road, without minding the fact that a previous Govt may had started it.

Dr Danagogo emphasized the benefits in the Fubara Administration decision to complete projects that were started even during tha Gov Odili tenure in the state, and cited the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity road as an instant.

“Gov Fubara had completed the Andoni section of that road, which was started by Odili, and continued by both Gov Amaechi and Gov Wike as well. The Kalabaris, and Rivers people as well, may yet thank Gov Fubara, who had risen above the usual norm by previous Govts in Rivers State, of not touching projects not initiated by them, but rather resorted to improving on such projects, in the general interest of the general Rivers.

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