By Theresa Ukpong, Uyo
An elder statesman and former Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Obong Victor Attah has expressed sadness over the nonchalant attitude the state government has accorded tourism centres in the state.
The former governor was specific about the poor state of Ibom Plaza, Unity Park and Tropicana complex, major and popular tourism centres in Uyo, he described their current state as worrisome.
Obong Attah added that the purpose for constructing Ibom plaza, meant to decongest traffic around the town centre and serve as a relaxation centre for residents has failed because government has failed to control illegal activities there, turning into a market place.
“The concept for the construction of the plaza was to solve traffic congestion around the circus, control street trading around the plaza and create social and relaxation centre for residents.
“The place is no longer been maintained and I hear now that criminals have taken over the place and that’s why I said the plaza has failed in the social and commercial aspects.”
“So in the aspect of traffic it has not failed although commercial activities are now been conducted along the walkways, but in the aspect of commercial and social it has completely failed because you see people selling things outside the open market provided within the plaza.
Our correspondent gathered that the plaza has now become a market place and centre for hoodlums who have rendered the area insecure for traders who have since taken over the open spaces at the plaza and passersby especially at night.
It was also gathered as of last week that toilets complex at the Ibom Plaza have been converted to “short time” rooms.
On the Unity Park, Attach explained that the project was conceptualized to serve as a major leisure arena especially for children and youths in addition to accommodating the Ibibio Cultural Meseum but expressed dismay at lack of government interest in putting the arena to proper use.
“I won’t say that the Unity Park has failed but it has not been developed. The concept was to create an open place with relaxation facilities where families can come together to relax. We need to have such a facility and maintain it.
“I was in Nairobi sometimes and I saw open places where people came to even have their lunch and I said to myself, these are Africans and we can have this kind of facility too for ourselves.” He said.
He regretted that the theme park and other leisure facilities at the Ibom Tropicana entertainment centre have not been put into use more than six years after they were built calling on the state government to do something urgent to readdress this.
Our correspondents reported that the park, covering a large land area was initially been occupied by private leisure concerns but were forced to vacate the area by the state government for redevopement three years ago.
Regrettably, nothing has been done to re-devolope the park since then except for the government sponsored annual events cultural programme which has always been a hit to residents especially children and families, denied of a proper relaxation and leisure centre in the state capital.
The state commmissioner for culture and tourism Mr Orman Essien could not react to this developement as he failed to respond to calls and a text message sent to him on the matter