Passengers traveling by boat from Calabar in Cross River State to Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, have expressed their frustration with the exorbitant transportation costs.
It is believed that the significant increase in fares is a result of the high passenger traffic on this water route, primarily due to the extremely poor condition of the Calabar-Uyo federal highway over the past several years.
With the deplorable state of the Calabar-Uyo federal highway, boat services have become more popular, attracting travelers heading to Akwa Ibom, Abia, and neighboring states. However, the surge in boat travel has also coincided with a rise in crimes on the seas, particularly around the Calabar/Marina beach, Oron beach, Creek Town, and Adiabo beaches.
Passengers Priscilla Akpan and Fidelis Umoh, both low-income earners, shared their experiences of the doubled fares. For example, a trip from Calabar to Oron in Akwa Ibom State now costs ₦6,000, compared to the previous ₦3,000. Umoh mentioned that ferry rides to Creek Town or Adiabo beaches, located near Calabar, range from ₦3,000 to ₦4,000, depending on the time. Initially, passengers were charged ₦1,000 to ₦2,000 for the same trips.
Cargo ferries also impose additional charges for transporting goods. Passengers traveling to Okurikang and nearby areas by water have to pay higher fares from the Adiabo or Creek Town beaches, as they are then compelled to use motorcycles. The distance between Adiabo or Creek Town beaches and Okurikang is approximately 200 kilometers, and motorcycle owners charge between ₦1,000 to ₦1,500.
Reliable sources have indicated that the State Government is considering repairing the Adiabo Bridge, which was abandoned many years ago during the regime of late General Sani Abacha. This action aims to alleviate the difficulties faced by commuters on the deplorable Calabar-Itu federal highway. Another government source hinted that Governor Bassey Otu has initiated discussions with relevant authorities and contractors to address the Adiabo Bridge issue and divert heavy traffic from the Tinapa/Adiabo axis of the Calabar-Uyo highway.
Travelers along the highway have experienced significant losses, both in terms of time and resources, as they spend extended hours and days to reach their destinations. Additionally, criminal activities have been on the rise along the deteriorating Odukpani axis of the Calabar-Uyo federal highway. Tragically, lives have also been lost on this road.