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Anambra loses N30 billion to erosion menace •Snakes scare contractors away from site

By Pamela Eboh, Awka on 21/11/2015

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Anambra State lost well over N30 billion worth of property in the last one year. The State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, disclosed this while recently playing host to World Bank consultants who were in the state to supervise various on-going erosion control projects sponsored by the bank.

Chief Obiano, who was represented by the Anambra State Project Coordinator, Engr. Mike Ivenso Jnr., disclosed that worst hit are the riverine communities of the state. He regretted that some of those living in such communities have refused to vacate them even after collecting the compensations for the locations.

While giving his appraisal report on progress made between now and the last visit by the tWorld Bank consultants, Engr. Ivenso Jnr. complained of lack of trained and experienced manpower, saying that experienced officers in the unit have all retired and left service.

He identified other challenges they face to include the unusual heavy rains experienced this year, community interference – in some instances even arresting contractors and their workers – as well as the capacity of some contractors.

Relating the experiences of the World Bank team, the Chief Consultant, Mr. Silver Yance of SMEC International Ltd., said that about eight projects currently being undertaken in parts of the state were found to be progressing according to specifications but needed to be executed at an increased pace, especially now that it is the dry season.

He blamed inappropriate drainage systems that were often channeled into farmlands and residential quarters for the heavy flooding and gully erosion menace, adding that some of the erosion sites were all life-threatening because they were in densely populated areas.

The Chief Consultant disclosed that about six families have lost their homes in Ikenga Ogidi within the last six months. He also pointed out that delayed approval of designs negatively affected the intervention works as some of the erosion worsened from the time of design to the time of actual approval of project design.

Other challenges he listed include snake attacks on him and his officers at the sites, sudden collapse of gully walls during inspection, and the hurdles and delays in securing entry visas for some of the engineers and other experts.

The areas being covered by World Bank and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) intervention projects under the programme of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) include the erosion sites at Omagba-Onitsha, Umudunu/Abagana/Enugwu-Ukwu area both in Njikoka council area, Abidi Umuoji, Ugamuma Obosi, and Ndiagu Ikenga Ogidi – all in Idemili North Local Government Area, among others.

Speaking on the inspection programme, the visiting World Bank Team Leader, Dr. Amos Abu, who is also the head of the inspection experts from the World Bank, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO-UN) and Federal Government officials sent to monitor the progress of works going on at the various sites, said that about 15 life-threatening sites have been identified out of the more than 1,000 such sites in Anambra.

Dr. Abu called on contractors to stop bombarding his office and phones with calls over contract awards, explaining that the World Bank does not participate in the selection of locations or award of contracts.

In his words, “It is the state Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) that sets up the evaluation committee and thereafter makes recommendations to the World Bank.”

Abu pointed out that NEWMAP was focused on reducing land degradation in communities and has come up with tested designs geared towards restoring hopes, lives and joy to citizens.

He confirmed that despite the prevailing cash crunch, the Federal and Anambra State governments have provided their counterpart cash contributions of N500 million each and therefore commended them for their cooperation. Dr. Abu urged communities to cooperate and assist contractors instead of making things difficult for them.

•Photo shows Governor Obiano.

Source News Express

Posted 21/11/2015 2:13:40 PM

 

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