N56Bn Rivers Unity Road divides Rivers people

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* Odili awarded the project at N11.8Bn for 37,7km (26% done)

* Amaechi revised it at N31Bn for 44.9km, paid N25.8Bn (83% done)

* Wike re-awarded it at N14Bn, paid N7Bn

* Wike camp: Peterside failed his people, will fail again

* Amaechi camp: Wike has caused loss of N8Bn on the project

 

The biggest road dream of the Rivers people in 1999 was how to put a road from Ogoni area to Opobo so that one quarter of the populace including the then deputy governor, Gabriel Toby, could go home by road or by cars.

Together with the ambition of enthroning an uninterrupted power supply system in the state, the young administration of Peter Odili, a medical doctor, flagged off the Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro Road project. He always briefed the people during stakeholders meetings about the progress of the sensitive road.

Believed that since the FG was about to award the Kono-Bonny Road that would fly across a stretch of water to Bonny Island, and the state government was ready to flag off another road in the Kalabari axis to connect the Buguma to the other western routes to link series of creek towns too, the entire Rivers State would be connected by road and end the idea of having towns only accessed by water. The dream looked real. Today, none of those roads is built. The FG is just struggling to start the Kono Bonny Road with N120Bn with the prodding of the NLNG which has put down N60Bn. The one in Kalabari for which N500m was allegedly paid to a Kalabari political figure never started. Now, the Unity Road that starts from Ogoni to Opobo and Nkoro near the Atlantic Ocean is busy dividing the people along the usual political divide of PDP and APC.

The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, who contested for governorship for the APC against PDP’s Nyesom Wike (and lost) has provoked attacks when he laid blames on Gov Wike. In reaction, the state government through the Commissioner of Information & communications, Emma Okah, hit back, saying he was the commissioner of works that failed under Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to complete the road after Odili.

The Amaechi/Peterside cam roared back with an update running on some social media platforms, accusing Wike of canceling the contract without recovering the paid sum. The figures being quoted by both sides, the length of the road, the payments, and the true administration that loves the people more have become contentious issues.

Emma Okah for Rivers Government:

The road caused Dakuku Peterside’s defeat in 2015, he will fail again

Rivers State Government issued a statement on March 6, 2018, calling on the APC Governorship Candidate in the 2015 election to apologize to the people of Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Areas for allegedly deliberately abandoning the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo (Unity) Road when he was the State Commissioner for Works. “The neglect of the road was the major reason why the people of Opobo/Nkoro LGA rejected their son Dakuku Peterside and voted massively for Governor Nyesom Wike from Obio/Akpor in 2015.”

Reacting to a press statement credited to Peterside, Okah said it was a political tragedy that Peterside has not learnt any lesson from his the 2015 Governorship election in his Ward and Opobo/Nkoro Local Government, saying the same fate would await him in the future if he did not apologize to the people of Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Areas for allegedly failing to complete the road at least up to Opobo town.

“I don’t take my friend Dakuku Peterside serious on many political issues because his arguments and claims are usually self destructive. He claimed that he drove to Kalaibiama during the 2015 electioneering campaigns. He was possibly using a flying car” Okah said

According to Okah, the previous administration had substantially built Bridge 8 before abandoning it. At that stage, ramps which slope the bridge level to the road level had not been built to enable vehicles pass the bridge level in descent to the road level. “So how did Peterside’s vehicle drive across the bridge without ramps and he did not summersault? Before the Wike administration did the work, the people of Kalaibiama were using planks as ramps to cross the bridge and maneuver their motorbikes.

“Besides, the distance from Bridge 8 to Kalaibiama town is about two Kilometers of extremely swampy and challenging terrain which was the reason why the previous government abandoned it. To the glory of God, Governor Wike has battled and successfully constructed the ramp and road from the bridge to Kalaibiama. This is a feat that Peterside seeks to appropriate.

“What Peterside did not inform Rivers People is that after abandoning Bridge 8, the previous administration initiated the process of secretly cancelling the Andoni – Opobo Road contract and to demonstrate this, they refused to fund the contractor any more. Is this an action of a man who loves the Opobo people?

“The Wike administration came on board and discontinued the cancellation of the contract but went ahead to revalidate it and has funded the contractor to the tune of 50 per cent of the revalidated contract price”.

The commissioner said this was the reason why work progressed to the point of vehicles driving into Opobo/Nkoro LGA and would get to Opobo town in due course.

“Governor Wike has been sincere in executing the Unity Road project and has matched words with action. Peterside should be ashamed that the administration he served as Commissioner for Works was receiving an average of N21Bn every month from federal allocation but only N14Bn was committed to the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo (Road) for the eight years of that government.

“On the contrary, the Governor Nyesom Wike administration has since committed the sum of N7Bn in less than three years towards the completion of project and the results are positive. So between that administration and the present one, who loves the people of Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Areas more?

“It is high time Peterside consulted well with his master before jumping into the public domain to make unfounded assertions and abuse others like an ill-bred child on matters he has scanty knowledge because those who live in glass houses do not throw stones.”

Dakuku Peterside camp:

Let facts speak for the Unity Road

As if taking the advice of the Information boss for Peterside to obtain facts from his boss (the former governor) before going to the press, the Peterside camp (Dapmedia) released what they claimed to be the file on the Unity Road, thereby deepening the controversy.

The contract was awarded in January, 2005 by Odili at the cost of N11.8Bn to Rivigo J.V Nigeria Limited with the following scope of work: The total road length was 37.71km traversing through from Ogoni to Opobo town through Ikuru town and a spur to Ngo town. As at the time of this award Nkoro was excluded from the project. Road width was 12.8m, and bridges were 10 totaling 28 spans at 34m per span, bringing the total bridge length to 952m.

From the above scope of work, Odili administration recorded 26 per cent work completion with only two bridges completed. And the road stopped at Iwoma Asarama community and the government wound up in May 2007.

The short government of Celestine Omehia recorded no work progress on the job.

On the assumption of office by Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi also in 2007, the road project was called up and between 2007-2013, there were three revisions of the contract from N11.8Bn to N31.Bn also with Rivigo J.V Nigeria Limited. This was as a result of great and overwhelming changes in the scope of the road project which include the introduction of Nkoro route to enable Nkoro people benefit from the road project. And this now changed the origin alignment of the road from passing Ikuru town to Opobo, meaning that the new route to Opobo town is now through Nkoro town with additional total length of 11.51km accompanied with four bridges which now increase the initial bridge numbers from 10 to 11. The new road length is now 44.091km as against 37.7km awarded by Odili in 2005.

Also, due to the positions of the abutments inside the river especially on Bridge 3 at Asarama & 4 at Ikum community all in Andoni LGA, an additional two spans each was added to increase the waterway head room of the bridge for navigation. This brings the total bridge length to 1.088km. Again additional retaining walls were approved using sheet piles to protect all the abutments of the bridges against massive erosion.

The width of the spur at Ngo town was increased from 10m to 15m, thus affecting buildings on the right of way making the government to pay additional compensation.

On the 12th August, 2014 Rivigo J.V Nigeria Limited submitted a chat showing price of material variation from the period the project was awarded, which has increased to an average of 97.25 per cent. This was also a factor necessitating the review of the contract.

Furthermore, additional culvert was constructed at Kpean in Khana LGA to link their old culvert to the Unity Road to ease flooding of farmlands. There was also no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project as at the time Odili awarded the project. This was included during Rotimi’s administration at an extra cost to the project.

As at the time Amaechi was leaving office in 2015, the status of the road project was 77.79 per cent completed; showing the following work done: Total site clearing was 88.5 per cent. Ogoni-Andoni axis was 50.5 per cent up to Ikuru town while Opobo-Nkoro axis was 38 per cent and was up to Opobo entrance through Kalabiama. Sharp sand filling was 77.98 per cent of which Ogoni-Andoni axis took 47.84 per cent and was up to Ngo town while Opobo-Nkoro axis took 30.14 per cent up to Kalabiama. Stone base stabilization was 66.28 per cent, with Ogoni-Andoni axis with 42 per cent while 24.28 per cent at Opobo-Nkoro axis. Asphalt binder course stood at 48 per cent on Ogoni-Andoni axis only. Bridge Numbers 1, 2,3 &4 were 100 per cent completed, while Bridge Numbers 9 and 10 were 70 per cent and 30 per cent completed respectively on Ogoni Andoni axis.

Bridge 5 was 100 per cent completed while Bridge 6, 7 and 8 were 80 per cent 60 per cent and 40 per cent completed respectively on Opobo-Nkoro axis.

Note that the entire pre-stress beams for the road project were completed at the company yard and ready for launching. Also all the sheet piles totaling 6,684 for the embankment of the abutments were ready in the contractor’s yard. On financial commitment by Amaechi administration, the contractor, Rivigo J.V.Nigeria Limited, had received a total of N25.795Bn out of N31Bn and that was 83.21 per cent of work of the revised contract sum. The value of work done by the contractor up till may 2014 stood at N24.161Bn only, representing 77.79 per cent work done.

Based on the said amount paid, the contractor was owing Rivers State government N1.634Bn. Despite above therefore, the contractor still closed down site on the 17th May, 2014 without prior notice to the ministry of works.

The supervision team promptly reported the event to the authority and this was followed by series of meetings presided over by the former Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, in his office on the 27th August, 2014. Also the former Governor, Amaechi, intervened and directed Rivigo J.V Nigeria Limited to go back to site or be sued for breach of contract, because they were owing Rivers State Government over N1.634Bn  but the contractor refused until Amaechi left.

On the 3rd of August, 2015 Rivers State Government cancelled the Unity Road contract with Rivigo J.V Nigeria Limited despite this indebtedness to the state. This paved way for the contract to be valued and re-awarded to Raffoul Nigeria Limited at the cost of N14Bn instead of compiling Rivigo J.V Nigeria Limited who had 22.21 per cent work to complete and deliver Unity Road project to the various destinations and pay them the N6.838Bn.

The Peterside camp said Raffoul Nigeria Limited has issues with handling pre-stress beam construction and launching. “As we speak they have not launched one beam, even when all the beams have been produced by the previous contractor. The pile caps extension for the bridge recommended to ease navigation could not be done. Furthermore, much work couldn’t be done because the N2Bn paid as mobilization was used to sponsor the current national party chairman of the party.”

Conclusion:

It is clear that the 2019 governorship elections may be fought on the divisive N56Bn Unity Road and the N150Bn Monorail projects, especially if Dakuku Peterside should lead the APC to the guber wars.