NDDC making efforts to address challenges —Olorogun Egbo, Special Adviser on Media, Publicity to Interim Administrator
By Festus Ahon & Ochuko Akuopha
WHEN the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, eventually awarded the 17-kilometer Emevor-Orogun Road to WEKAMA Construction Company in 2017, after several decades of being in a deplorable state, the joy of indigenes of the agrarian community, Isoko North Local Government Area, Delta State knew no bounds as they were optimistic that their dream of having their major road constructed was finally coming to fruition.
However, five years after the contractor mobilised to site, an air of despondency has again crept into the oil-rich community as the traumatic experience they have been going through continues to persist.
Contractors vanishes — Agboro, president-general, Emevor
The contractor, according to them, disappeared from site without making any meaningful progress.
Recounting the ordeal of his people in an interaction with NDV, President-General of the Emevor Improvement Union, Sir Moses Agboro, said: “It is very painful in the sense that it is the only road Emevor has. That is the only road that you can say enters Emevor and you will pass it to all the other villages, about five of them, on the way to Orogun.
“The problem is that people are not able to fathom why Emevor should be befallen by such fate. The road is deplorable, the government talks about it, everybody talks about it but it is not being addressed in the way it ought to be addressed.
“Since 2017, the road has been given to a particular contractor. If till now, the contractor is not doing anything meaningful, I think NDDC is supposed to call him to order and determine from him whether he has the capability to carry on. Out of all the clans in Isoko, it is only Emevor that is suffering what everyone is now talking about. It is very painful to us.
“We have cried as much as we can; we cannot talk of how many community prayers have been done, sometimes seven days, calling upon God to intervene.
“If you say you want to go to the villages now, you cannot believe that in 2021, there is a road that leads to a community that is of that nature. It is not as if you are driving along that road and it gets bad at some point. It is bad right from James Welch Grammar School. NDDC that awarded it is not committed to ensuring that the road is completed.
From bad to worse
“From 2017 till date, the contractor is yet to work to the level of asking for payment. It is as bad as that. We said now that you have this problem, what can you do to help the community in the interim? He came and dug the road and made it worse; worse in the sense that the potholes are now bigger and deeper. Everyone in Emevor is just confused about this road.
“Frankly speaking, if they have to address this problem, it has to be a matter of deliberate effort by government where they will determine the contract immediately and re-award it to a competent contractor that has the financial muscle to do it.
“NDDC is plagued with problems in terms of payment, they are not doing well at all, unless you have your own money and you can finish a job and by using your connection. Without connection, from what I have seen, it is very difficult to complete jobs in NDDC and get paid.
“The present team handling this contract will not be able to complete it even in five years’ time. They have not shown the sign at all.
What we want from Omo-Agege, Manager, Ogor
“What I am saying is that, it is the only road that is called Emevor road. If you are coming from Orogun to Emevor, it is the road you will pass through. You are coming from Emevor and you want to go to Orogun to Abraka, it is also the road you will pass, it is so strategic and prominent.
“What we want is a road and not an awarded job. We call upon Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege, Senator James Manager and Hon. Leo Ogor, to intervene by calling on NDDC and putting pressure on the contractor to complete the project or hand it over to a more competent contractor.”
On the problems presently facing the commission, Agboro said: “Those are the already made excuses they now have, forensic audit is pursuing them, dissolution of board and all that.”
NDDC owing WEKAMA, didn’t fund project —Anonymous official
Speaking on behalf of the company, a top management personnel who craved anonymity said: “NDDC did not give us money to continue with that work and everybody knows what is going on in NDDC board right now.
“We have done a lot of work which certificates are in the system for that road expecting payment for job done so that we can continue. NDDC people have been there several times to inspect and check.
“We still have some other certificates in the system for other projects which have not also been paid. There is one we did in Emevor, Ogoba Street, which we have completed.”
Interim NDDC administration to scrutinize genuine contracts —Olorogun Egbo
Special Adviser to the Interim Administrator of NDDC on Media and Publicity, Olorogun Jaro Egbo, said: “I actually passed through the road recently and I raised it with them and they said they are working on it from the Orogun end.
“This new administration is taking so many things into consideration in trying to work out some of these things. With the forensic audit going on now, all contractors are advised to go back to site so that they can be paid. What the interim administration is doing now is to ensure that all those who have genuine contracts who have been cleared by the audit and certified that their work has been done, will be paid.
“Do not also forget that for a long time now there has been no budget, but the budget has just been passed and I think by next week, the management committee will sit down and analyse the budget and now arrangement for payment.
“They have a budget now. You know, because of the problem and controversy generated by the last interim management committee and the National Assembly, no budget was passed, so they are just trying to recover now and see what can be do done.”