From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Except the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs gives urgent attention to the Niger Delta skills Acquisition Centre located at Ikot Nakanda in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State, the over N2bn project may be washed away by gully erosion.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that the skills acquisition centre was hurriedly awarded by the ministry of Niger Delta in 2010 without carrying out necessary test on soil textures and compositions.
The project has conference Centre, Hostel, ICT centre, Olympic standard swimming pool, indoor Games, Gallery and Staff quarters. The Goodluck Administration with Godsday Orubebe as the minister is implementing the project, which was part of the palliative measure to pacify and engage the youths of the Niger Delta and was initiated by the former Minister of Niger Delta, Ufot Ekaette, during the late Yar’Adua’s administration.
When Daily Sun visited the site, it was discovered the land housing the project is being threatened by big gully erosion as it has been divided, thereby fuelling speculation that the August deadline date for the completion and commissioning of the project might not be feasible.
Speaking to Daily Sun on the issue, one of the site engineer, Godwin Emprinkin, said “the problem of terrain is a huge challenge here, as you can see the land is threatened by gully erosion that almost divide the site into two.
The land itself was not made known to government before it paid, the gully is moving into the village and don’t forget that we are going into the raining season which is in torrent when commenced here. “
Another challenge we have here is the problem of fund which government is holding, they are giving us completion date without making a commensurate fund available, how do we marry the delay in payment and completion target given with this huge challenge of gully that has almost taken over the whole site? “On our part, the deadline date is realizable but we want government to address these challenges.
This Erosion problem should be a separate contract, but we are doing our palliative measure to make the work going, however variation into this contract sum is inevitable”, Emorinkin said.
The representative of the consultant of the project, Sunday Abu-Somuan, said “the gully came as a result of the way and manner in which the contract was awarded, the consultant was not allowed to inspect the project site by the community before the federal government through the ministry of Niger Delta paid them.
“By the time we see the mountain they described as a surface table land,the payment had been made and government said we must continue with the work. It’s like fighting nature; the result is what you are seeing today. “In fact, we have to redesign some of the Original plan, the work-in-progress of the building is going as speed but the Erosion is a challenge it is as bad as you see it yourself,” he stated.
One of the contractors, Mr. Alabi Aderemi, said all the building of staff quarters, ICT and indoor games are 95% completed, pointing out that the ICT building is being threatened by the feasible gully Erosion.
“The current of water is high here and as you can see, the ICT building is being threatened by the gully,” he said. Reacting, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, told journalists during his recent visit to Calabar, accepted that the Project is being threatened by erosion.
“Government did not considered the Erosion plan when the project was awarded, we are going to look into it, it’s before the ministry and it’s not about variation alone, the contract of that gully erosion must be awarded separately”, Orubebe said. On whether the promise of completing the projects within four months is still feasible, he minister said “I can assure you it will be completed and commissioned at the mentioned date.