For the umpteenth time since 2017, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has announced readiness to commission its flagship partnership road project, the N24Bn Ogbia-Nembe Road, built in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC. It spans 29 kilometres through swampy terrains in Bayelsa State.
The NDDC then under an acting MD, Ibim Semenitari, worked hard to get the project ready and announced two commissioning dates that never materialized until she left office. When Nsima Ekere her successor came, nothing much was heard of it for a long before another commissioning date was given and shifted. The coming of Nelson Brambaifa saw increased effort to get it done but that was not to be until he left office. His successor, Akwagaga Enyia did not stay long enough to revisit it but with Joi Nunieh on the saddle, attention has returned to the project.
Speaking on behalf of the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Joi Nunieh, after inspecting the project, the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Cairo Ojougboh, affirmed that it aligns with the plans of the NDDC to revisit all legacy projects.
Ojougboh, who was accompanied by the Director Project Monitoring and Supervision, Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua; the Acting Director Utilities, Infrastructural Development and Waterways, Fredrick Ogbeide, and other directors, said the NDDC would make sure that key projects were completed for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta region.
Ojougboh said that the Ogbia-Nembe Road was handed over to the NDDC over a year ago and efforts were afoot for its commissioning in the shortest possible time. He added: “This is one of the legacy projects which the NDDC will like to showcase because it is a success story of what can be achieved through strategic partnership.
“The goal of the NDDC is to take development to the hinterland where the states governments and other development agencies may have failed to pay attention to. That is part of the mandate of the Commission.”
He observed that communities in the Niger Delta contribute immensely to the economic well-being of Nigeria and were, therefore, deserving of quality projects.
The NDDC Director Project Monitoring and Supervision, Audu-Ohwavborua, described the Ogbia-Nembe road as a model in partnership, with emphasis on quality job delivery, stating that the collaboration should be encouraged.
He declared: “This is the standard we will maintain for all our road projects. Going forward, we want to extend this to other areas such as shore protection and canalization projects.
“The Ogbia-Nembe road was a good demonstration of what could be achieved when development agencies, companies and state governments collaborate. It is a clarion call to all our development partners. They should take a cue from what Shell has done.”
The NDDC Ogbia-Nembe Road Project Manager, Onuoha Obeka noted that the project which was started in 2006, encountered many challenges.
He observed: “We are happy that in spite of the challenges, the project connecting about 14 communities in Ogbia-Nembe axis of Bayelsa State, has been completed. These communities were hitherto not accessible by road. This is the first connection between them and the upland and it will boost the socio-economic fortunes of the people.”
Obeka said that the project was an opportunity for the NDDC engineering crew to improve on their skills. He noted: “The challenges we met here could not have been met elsewhere, building a road in the mangrove swamp. You will notice that both sides of the road are filled with water. The road was actually built on a sand embankment of 2.5 million cubic metres of sand.”
He remarked that the road, which has seven bridges and 53 culverts across very difficult terrain, would impact many communities directly and open up to modern development.
According to him: “To get this project to this level, the contractor had to remove unsuitable materials for as deep as 2.5 metres in some portions. The project has also seen the use of vertical drains to take away ground water to allow the road to stabilise.”