Okowa Ifeanyi, Delta State governor, has taken a bold step to arrest the erosion menace in the State.
On Wednesday, he signed a contract of N3.2 billion for the commencement of the Obomkpa and Ukwunzu gully erosion control projects.
The control project is between Delta State Government and the Nigerian Erosion Watershed Management Project, NEWMAP.
Speaking, Chiedu Ebie Secretary to the State Government explained that the Obomkpa project was about N1.5 billion while that of Ukwunzu was about N2.4 billion. He added that the state government had made a counterpart donation of above N800 million for the projects.
Ebie said that the state government was partnering with the World Bank through NEWMAP to tackle erosion challenges in the state, while stating that the government had so far paid its counterpart funding of over 800 million naira for erosion control projects in the state.
FIRST EROSION CONTRACT
He expressed government’s satisfaction with progress achieved so far at the ongoing Owanta gully erosion project which he said was the first contract that was signed for the control of gully erosion in the state and charged the construction companies to ensure that the projects were executed on time and to specification.
“Gully erosion is something that has troubled us for decades here in Delta State. We have over 100 gully erosion sites and working with NEWMAP, through the State Ministry of Environment. We are gradually dealing with these problems.
“As a responsive governor, Okowa will continue to attend to the needs of our citizens. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the downturn in the economy, we are still doing our best to ensure that critical projects are on course.
“We do hope that as we move closer to the end of the year, things will improve. We will be able to embark on more projects. However, we will also do what we ought to as a government to ameliorate the sufferings of the people,’’
Ebie also thanked the World Bank and NEWMAP for partnering with Okowa led government. He expressed confidence in the contractors’ ability to handle the Obonkpa and Ukwunzu gully erosion projects. Both projects are in Anoicha North Local Government Area.
The Commissioner for Environment, Chris Onogba, said that the Owanta Gully Erosion Project is almost completed. The project is being undertaken by the state government and NEWMAP. He assured the state government’s commitment to ameliorating the sufferings of Deltans.
Onogba, who expressed worry that the state’s ecological funds were locked up by the Federal Government. He argued that if the process was decentralized, ‘’states will be able to arrest the ecological challenges ravaging them’’.
Earlier, Coordinator of NEWMAP in the state, Mr Isaac Ufiofio, explained that the contractors (Levante Construction and EmmyBless Construction) emerged through a transparent and competitive bidding, and charged them to ensure compliance with standards and time.
Responding, the Project Manager of Levante Construction Company, Mr Ghassan Fadel, assured of timely completion. In the same vein, his colleague from EmmyBless Construction Company, Prof. Arthur Essaghah, promised to leverage on international best practices in ensuring that the project was delivered.