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Kidnap of expatriate construction worker, murder of 2 soldiers stall NDDC road project

By News Express on 13/04/2016

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Tuesday lamented the kidnapping of an expatriate and killing of two soldiers attached to SETRACO by gunmen last week at the site of the Ogbia-Nembe road project, as a result of which the construction firm has temporarily left site.

The N100 billion road project is being jointly funded by NDDC and Shell Petroleum Development Company while the Bayelsa State Government injected N3 billion to fast-track the project two years ago.

The commission lamented that the development would stall the commissioning of the project earlier scheduled for April 29, 2016.

In another devastating consequence of the insecurity in the Niger Delta, Julius Berger was compelled to pull out of the Port Harcourt-Warri flank of the East-West Road which was later re-awarded to SETRACO. The road remains uncompleted.

SETRACO relies heavily on deployment of soldiers and policemen who are, however, often attacked and killed in their efforts to protect foreign construction workers.

The two soldiers deployed from the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta came under attack last week while trying to protect a Lebanese who was eventually abducted.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Acting Managing Director of NDDC, said she was in Bayelsa to assess on-going projects and identify areas of immediate intervention.

According to her, the NDDC has awarded a total of 28 regional projects from its inception, out of which two have been commissioned, 20 on-going, while six are yet to kick off.

She explained that a total of 658 other projects have also been awarded covering shore protection, repair of roads, sand-filling, construction of jetties and electrification.

She said the abandoned Akenfa bridge project was awarded at the cost of N800 million out of which 50 per cent mobilisation has been paid.

Gov. Seriake Dickson, who received the NDDC team on Tuesday at the Government House in Yenagoa, advised the commission against being used as a platform for servicing political interests.

Dickson said the commission should be used to serve the interests of the Niger Delta people, while available resources should be channeled on projects that could affect the development and prosperity of the region.

He also suggested that the NDDC should collaborate with state governments in the region to execute priority projects that would serve as a catalyst for the socio-economic development of the region.

The Governor, who identified the three senatorial road projects in the state as key to creating access to the Atlantic Ocean and economic prosperity, stressed that the construction of such projects worth billions of naira would attract development and socio-economic progress to the state.

According to him, while the road from Nembe to Brass alone would gulp about N100 billion, “Bayelsa economy will remain stifled if there is no access to the sea where its wealth lies.”

The Governor commended NDDC for the award of contracts in Bayelsa but, however, decried the number of abandoned projects in the state, which he attributed to the over-politicisation of the activities of the commission.

“The NDDC should move away from the era of using the commission as a conduit to service the vested political interest, but rather NDDC should serve the interest of the Niger Delta people. It should channel available resources on projects that can affect the development and prosperity of the region.” Dickson said.

The Governor also called on the Federal Government to constitute the governing and advisory boards of the commission to enable governors and stakeholders of the region make inputs concerning the award of contracts for critical projects that are beneficial to the people.

“No doubt, contracts were awarded for development projects in Bayelsa but they were abandoned after the payment of mobilisation fees. So in Bayelsa, you have a litany of abandoned projects in every community, which is not fair,” Dickson said.

“Beneficiaries of these contracts, who thought that the NDDC was just there as a cash cow for them to enrich their pockets at the expense of the impoverished people, who are in need of development is very unfair,” the Governor added.

•Photo shows NDDC Acting MD, Ibim Semenitari.

Source News Express

Posted 13/04/2016 05:15:48 AM


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