By Nuel Suji – The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Amayanabo of Nembe in Bayelsa State have agreed to work together for the completion of the Ogbia-Nembe road. In her bid to return the contractor handling the multi-billion Naira project back to site and fast-track its completion, Ag. Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, on Monday met with His Royal Majesty, King Edmund Daukoru, Mingi X11, Amayanabo of Nembe, Bayelsa State.
Semenitari, who was accompanied on the visit by some Directors of the Commission, also had in her company Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Strategy Manager, Mr. David Anyanwu, and Project Engineer, Mr. Godwin Ikwue. The Nembe-Ogbia road project is a joint partnership between NDDC and SPDC. Gunmen _had on Tuesday, April 5, killed 2 soldiers and kidnapped an expatriate worker, a situation that forced SETRACO, the contractor handling the project, to de-mobilise from site.
The road, which is linking and opening-up about 14 communities in Bayelsa to development, is a mega-project which First Phase had been scheduled for commissioning this month, April.
Semenitari, who described the Nembe-Ogbia road as “full of history”, said that NDDC attached priority to the project which informed her directive as soon as she assumed office last December that funds be released to the contractor to return to site. “The Nembe-Ogbia road reminds us of history; tells our story and even the story of slavery. That area has the potential for the deepest seaport in Nigeria, and so the completion of that road will open the whole area to limitless business growth and opportunities”, Semenitari told King Daukoru.
According to Semenitari, the assistance of King Daukoru, as a foremost traditional ruler and prominent Nigerian, was key to the return of SETRACO to site. She regretted that the unfortunate incident had drawn back the completion deadline.
“Your Majesty, we had already fixed this April as the date for the commissioning of the First Phase before the ugly incident. Our schedule was to commission the Ogbia-Nembe section on April 29, then, flag-off the Second Phase that will link Brass to her neighbours by road. But all that had been drawn backwards.
And because we want that road to continue which is for the benefit of the people and the Niger Delta region, we have come to you to use your influence to resolve the circumstances behind the contractor’s de-mobilisation. To further prove out commitment to the completion of this Ogbia-Nembe-Brass road, we have included it in the 2016 budget,” Semenitari had told her host.
The MD noted that King Daukoru, a former Minister of State for Petroleum, had a huge role to play in driving NDDC’s development plan for the Niger Delta region, and called on him to use his vast experience in finding resolution to the abduction.
Semenitari noted that there was no short-cut to the development of the Niger Delta region except through provision of basic infrastructure and implementation of mega-projects such as the Nembe-Ogbia road. While reiterating her commitment to extending development to every part of the region, Semenitari called on communities where NDDC is undertaking projects to reciprocate such goodwill by protecting them and contractors.
King Daukoru, who commended Semenitari and prayed for her confirmation as substantive Managing Director of the Commission, agreed that the Ogbia-Nembe road was critical to the people of Nembe. He described Nembe as a well-structured society where its young men are capable of giving good account of themselves.
In recounting the transportation challenges people from the area face, the First Class traditional ruler promised to intervene in the crisis to ensure that the contractor returned to site.
The Amayanabo recalled with nostalgia how coastal communities were cut-off from their mainland neighbours. He, however, observed that the building of roads and bridges linking both sides had reduced the hardship. While praising Semenitari for her zeal to develop Niger Delta
and Nembe communities in particular through the road completion, the Amayanabo expressed delight at the prospect of completing the road. “With the zeal you have shown, I expect that this road will be completed”, the monarch stated.
The traditional pleaded with NDDC to consider completing an ongoing shoreline protection contracted as awarded in 2013 but had been abandoned and extend its development agenda to other areas of Nembe kingdom. The monarch commended the NDDC team for the visit and offered royal blessings on Semenitari whom he called “my good daughter.”