Uche Chris, Yenagoa
The management of the Bayelsa based Road construction giant,the Kakatar Ce Limited weekend explained the reason for the delayed take-off in the construction of the 9.7kilometre Opume-Okoroba road project awarded at a cost of N10billion by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2012.
According to the company,formerly known as Mangrovetech,though the company had since July 2012 mobilized to site with the 100 per cent clearing and cutting of trees along the road corridors attaining of the 9.6km total length done with the earthworks involving dredging and haulage of sand to over 2km, the claim that it abandoned the project was untrue and the campaign of calumny against the company sponsored.
Angry indigenes of Okoroba community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa state had last year protested against the abandonment of the Road project by the Federal Government and claimed the abandonment was on the grounds of alleged disagreement over compensation and non- availability of sand.
But the Brand Manager of the Road Construction Company,Kakatar Ce,Mr. Austine Ekeinde said the delay in the take-off of the project was due to the deficiencies inherent in the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) handed to the company by the NDDC,” the road contract was awarded to us without any applicable engineering design and drawings. It was so bad that at award the coordinates of the 00+ point of the road fell into Opume burial ground. This meant that we ought not to have commenced the road at all until NDDC gave the right coordinates.”
“Secondly, the BEME handed over to us for the project was also inappropriate for your road. For instance, the bill did not provide the use of sand for filling, but instead laterite was provided. It did not also provide for sand-cement stabilization as sub-base. As Ogbia people we knew that building the road like that is an invitation to a failed road. We insisted and impressed upon NDDC to permit us use sand instead and also stabilize it with sand-cement. Even at the moment no official permission has been granted for the sand-cement stabilization. But we have gone ahead to do it because that is the right thing to do.”
According to Ekeide, the Kakata Ce inspite of the challenges have done the clearing and cutting down of trees along the road corridors attaining 100% of the 9.6km total length, did the earthworks involving dredging and haulage of sand to over 2km and stabilisation with sand-cement and stone-base reaching nearly 2km,” “There was also no provision made for haulage of sand outside of the road corridors. It is the normal practice that where a road project is awarded and there are no materials in the immediate vicinity, provision is made for transportation from external locations.”
” In the Okoroba case, there is no sand in the area of Okoroba and hence we had to haul sand from a distance, in some instances, from as far as Onuebum. Again because we are Ogbia people we have hauled the sand without complaint and at great losses to us.Again at award of the road, we were required to construct a 6m width road. This we objected because it would have made the road very narrow, like a location or internal communal road. We progressed to increase the road width to 12.8m without prior approval.All these observations and short-comings were challenges which were strong grounds not to commence the road at all.”
“We severally intimated the client through letters and direct meetings but action has been delayed because of the internal workings of the client system. It should be noted that this is not peculiar to Okoroba. We should also note that the Okoroba road is by no means a priority to the NDDC.As at today, no Final Engineering Design has been approved and handed over to us to guide us in the construction of that road, and so we had to stand it down until that is done.”
The company further noted that they cannot proceed beyond the point they have reached without proper and adequate engineering design as this may jeopardize the spirit of the project, adding that they are not a charitable organisation and at the moment have made more than enough unappreciated sacrifices for the Okoroba people already.
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