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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Still on NDDC abandoned road projects – By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

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Abia communities of Isiala Ntighauzo and Ntighauzo Amairi all in Ntighauzo Ancient Kingdom,Obingwa local government area, recently joined the list of communities that have protested abandonment of road projects in their domain by the Niger Delta Development Commission.

Members of the community- the aged, women, men, youths and children took to the street to express their grievance over untold hardship and excruciating pains the abandoned  Apu na Ali and Iferife roads have subjected them to.

What aptly captures the experience the people of those communities could be likened to J.P Clark’s epic poem” The casualties” where he described a category of the Nigerian civil war victims as” those buried by instalment”

True to Clark’s description some folks from both communities have lost their limbs courtesy of road mishaps recorded on those roads. It will be an effort in futility to enumerate the fortunes lost in replacing motor, motorcycle, tricycle and bicycle tyres lost by the members of those communities on those roads. It is even easier for the Biblical proverbial horse to pass through the eye of the needle than members of the communities to play the roads after rainfall. 

To say that the roads are in bad shapes is an understatement. Unfortunately, the contractors handling the roads could not go beyond the stone laying and as the rains continued unabated over the seasons, the stones are exposed rendering the roads precarious.

Adindu Johnson, the President of a pressure group in the communities, Ntighauzo Progressives,   said for three years, the contractor, SACON Engineering Company abandoned the project.

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According to him,“Each time we confront the contractor about the roads, he would tell us he was coming to complete it, but up till moment, nothing has happened”.

What aggrieves members of the community more is the boldness exhibited by one of the contractor, one Okey Nwamu who is reported to have said that the villagers did not give him any contract, and as such should channel their grievances to NDDC which gave him the contract.

The people said that they are“ are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct NDDC to prevail on the contractor to return to site immediately and complete the road projects to save people of the area from further hardship”. While the traditional rulers, Eze Israel Uduki and Nwakwue Akpulonu are appealing to NDDC to compel the contractors to complete the projrcts to save members of the communities from further suffering.

The communities which issued 30 days ultimatum said that they are not resting on their oars until the projects are completed.

It will be recalled that protests by communities have recently trailed NDDC projects. There had been protest by six communities at Iyekogba area of Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State over the abandonment of a road construction contracted awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission and the continued deplorable condition of roads leading to the communities.

Also residents and indigenes of the communities, comprising Evbowe, Uholor, Utangban, Efionayi, Evbuodia and Ulemon, have also taken to the streets of their communities to protest the abandoned road project that was supposed to link the communities from Iyekogba near Ogba River to Upper Ekenwan road leading to Gelegele.

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There is strong appeal here for NDDC to live up to the functions establishing it, which include:

The formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of Niger Delta areas; To conceive, plan and implement, with set rules and regulations, projects and programmes for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta area in the field of transportation ( including roads), jetties and waterways, health, education, employment, industrialization, agriculture and fisheries,housing, urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunication; Preparing master plans and schemes to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta area and the cost of implementing such master plans and schemes.

Others are: Tacking ecological and environmental problems arising from the exploration of oil minerals in the Niger Delta and advising the federal government and the member states in the prevention and control of oil spills, gas glaring and environmental pollution; Liasing with the various oil minerals gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution prevention and control; Assessing and reporting on any project being funded and carried out in the Niger Delta area by gas producing companies and any other other company including non-governmental organisations and ensuring that funds released for such are properly utilised.

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