By Irene Bassey
Following the devastating flood that hit the Niger Delta region, where so many lives were lost, property worth billions of Naira destroyed and the road linking Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states, on the East-West Road, cut off at several sections, a stakehokder in the region has called for the redesign of the road to meet current reality.
While baring his mind on that devastating flood, a former member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and a member of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Dr. Emmanuel Akpanobong, called on the federal government to redesign the East – West road, especially on the realisation of geological deficiencies arising from the low level of the area and the rising level of water.
According to him, the flood disaster is not a one-year matter. “Who knows what happens next year? My idea of redesigning means that it should be raised above what is usually said in Geography – sea level. Now, they shifted the goal post to another level all this sand-filling of water, you are pushing water to somewhere else and they are holding their meetings. They will come back to ask for their father’s land. I don’t know how far that idea has sunk into people; whether it is financially possible”.
Dr. Emmanuel Akpanobong was speaking in Uyo, where he had a chat with members of Niger Delta Network, a good governance and public accountability group in Niger Delta region.
When asked on various interests interplaying in the award of contracts, as a stakeholder over the years, he hinted that contract is business and setting up objective criteria for selection of contractors is key to ensuring delivery on time.
“If you say, companies must have registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, must have experience in doing that kind of a thing, and you lay these down from onset, whoever qualifies, takes it. If you say, in the last paragraph, that it must be given to an indigene of the Niger Delta. There is no crime about it. If you want it open to every Nigerian or even a foreigner that meets these conditions, he should be given. That’s my stake in it. That’s the only way you can objectively monitor performance.
“Again, look at road construction, when they say poor performance, the first blame goes to government, because every road design has details, in terms of thickness; in terms of width, in terms of what should be put and there is intermittent supervision from the Ministry to test after asphalting it, somebody would come and approve the tar, the drainage, the dressing, the tucking in of the edges.”
He pointed out that during the last flood, some parts of the East West road floating in water.
“Somebody that should have known that a sand- filled place needed more compaction and thickening, but whoever was the contractor, somebody was supervising it,” he said.
“If the purpose of a contract is to patronize people as it is normally done for supporters of government. You know, you give them something to do. The primary objective is to satisfy your supporters then good performance is secondary”.