• Urges Wike, Fubara to sheathe sword
  •  Fubara promises to deliver project

 

From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt

 

Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has flagged off the construction of the N222.1 billion Trans-Kalabari road project to be constructed by the Governor Siminalayi Fubara-led administration.

 

Performing the flag-off on Monday, Nigeria’s Jonathan, commended Governor Fubara for his vision, commitment and courage to take up the construction of such road that has numerous benefits of making movement easy, enhancing response time to security issues, promoting integration and economic growth.

He said: “When I was asked to come and flag-off this project, I felt that it is only a person who has vision, and the commitment to develop his people that can do this.

“Your Excellency, let me commend you for your vision and the courage to start this project. In fact, it is not going to be a tea party. If you must develop a nation, region or state, there are critical elements that count. These are good road network, airport, rail and water transport systems as well as security.”

He said that by providing these enablers, development would thrive in the State, and thanked the governor for daring to dream big, and venture into projects that previous administrations had avoided.

The former president, who commended efforts of some leaders who had intervened in the festering political crisis in Rivers State, also asked both Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, and Governor Fubara to ceasefire, so that the crisis does not snowball into a bigger regional and national challenge with greater consequences.

The former president noted the problems associated with transition of governments in Nigeria, and crisis that it has come with.

He explained that even at the centre, where presidents have taken over from presidents, it has been better managed, but regretted that it is worse at the state level, warning that it is not the best.

The former president emphasised that outgoing governors and incoming ones must know that they have to work together for the collective interest of the citizenry of their states, urging them to address their minds to the need for such mutual acceptance.

He added: “In this case of Rivers, Minister Nyesom Wike and Governor Siminalayi Fubara must work together for the development of the land and the people of Rivers State. The tension will not help us.

“Rivers State is very critical in this country. Rivers State is the heart of the Niger Delta. If Rivers State is destabilized, the whole Niger Delta will be destabilized, and it will not end within the Niger Delta alone because I am from this part of the country, and I know how the system works. We don’t want any crisis in Rivers State.”

The former president said: “Leaders most know that nobody takes 100 percent. You most learn the principle of give and take. So, our political actors most work together if you love Rivers people.

“And, I join the leaders of Rivers State and well-meaning Nigerians who have been calling for truce, who have been calling for ceasefire, to also re-emphasize that there is the need for a ceasefire. Let us do things that will rather project this State positively.”

Speaking further, the former president stated: “There is this common saying that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. Both the Governor and the Minister are young people, very young people but they are powerful, and if you continue to fight, Rivers people will suffer. We don’t want the Rivers people to suffer.

“So, we are calling on them to embrace themselves. One hand does not clap. It takes two hands to clap. So, we want them to work together for the collective interest of Rivers people.

“Whatever has happened, has passed. Let us move to a new phase for the interest of the State, for the interest of the Niger Delta, and indeed, the interest of the country.”

Earlier, Rivers State Governor, Fubara, assured that his administration was determined to deliver the Trans-Kalabari Road project to stimulate socio-economic activities in benefiting rural communities for overall development of the State.

The governor, therefore, advised the people to buy-in into the project and ensure that they ward-off any form of sabotage that may delay or frustrate timely completion of the project.

Governor Fubara spoke at the flag-off of the construction of the multi-billion naira Trans-Kalabari Road project, which was performed by Nigeria’s former President, Jonathan at Nkpor-Aker Road Roundabout, Rumuolumeni community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area on Monday.

The governor said he understands the difficult swampy terrain that the road will traverse, and the associated cost but has decided to embark on it, which signals the driving principle of his administration to put the wellbeing and advancement of the people first.

Governor Fubara maintained that there was fund saved from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and federal allocations to fund the project to completion without borrowing, which is why 30 percent of the contract sum had already been paid to mobilise the contract to site in order to deliver on schedule.

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He said: “When we went for campaign in the three local government areas of Kalabari Kingdom, we promised you that if you give us your votes and we succeed, we will embark on the Trans-Kalabari Road.

“And that is what we have come to do today. We are a government, when we make promise, we keep our promises.

“I understand the cost. I understand the difficult terrain and I also understand that somebody has to take this step. If it is not done by me, then another person can also do it. But within our time, it is proper for us to make a statement to our people.

“I don’t want to talk about politics on this project. I want us to look at the facts. It is a difficult terrain, it is going to be expensive, but we are equal to the task”, he said.

Governor Fubara also said: “Let me also say it for record purposes: We are not going to borrow to embark on this project. We have saved and we are using our savings to pay off the cost, which we have already done, the 30 percent initial advance payment. So, the contractor has no reason to delay, but to start off the project immediately.”

The governor appealed to the Rumuolumeni people to give the contractor the necessary support to enable them take off without much ado while also urging the Kalabari Kingdom to give the necessary support so that the project will be delivered without any sabotage.

Governor Fubara said he heard the Amanyanabo of Abonnema when he spoke, alluding to the cost of building in the riverine, which is four times the cost of building in the upland, adding that when completed, the project would have helped to solve the problems associated with cost of property development in the riverine communities.

He noted: “This road will bring development to our people. This road will bring economic advancement to our people. So, we need your buy-in. Your buy-in is not just standing here with us today, but giving all the necessary support.

“You need to also cooperate with the contractor, your leaders and chiefs, so that there will be no sabotage.

“Let me also say it clearly, for those of you who are planning to sabotage it, it is your business. If we don’t do it in our own time, I wonder when you are going to get it. So, you need to buy-in into this project. The advantage of this project is making life easy for our people.”

Governor Fubara emphasised: “For us as a government, our duty remains, people first. Those things that we know will make life easy for you, are the areas that we will pay attention to.

“So, please give us the necessary support so that this project will be achieved at a record time. This way, we can also look at other aspects of the state economy.

“We are not going to focus only on roads. But this particular road is important to the development of our State. That is why we are starting it now because of the time that is required to deliver it.”

Governor Fubara said the Trans-Kalabari Road project will have a lot of bridges, and will have deck-on-pile, being built on the swamp, adding that having started it early, it should be ready within the lifespan of his tenure for formal inauguration.

He also thanked former President Jonathan, for accepting to perform the flag-off of the project because he understood the magnitude of the project and the specific transportation needs that it will address.

 

In his description of the project, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Works, Atemea Briggs, said Governor Fubara was making true his commitment of providing infrastructure that promote socio-economic growth and urban expansion.

Briggs explained that the project that will link Kalabari land by road to the metropolis is 12.5 kilometres long, has four concrete bridges measuring 576 meters, 288 meters, 360 meters and 108 meters, separately.

He said: “The road commences from the Port Harcourt Ring Road at the Aker-Nkpor Road junction where we are currently seated, and extends through the swampy area behind Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.

“The road will include a series of bridge crossings, leading to Oguru-Ama, Bakana, Bukuma and Tombia. The first phase of the project is 12.5 kilometres long, and it is expected to be completed within 32 months.

“The road features are 7.3 metre carriage way, 2.5 metre surface concrete shoulders and solar street lighting. It also consist 100 millimetre asphaltic to concrete surface scene, 150 millimetre crush granite base course and a 200 millimetre cement stabilizer sub-base.

He said it would begin from the Port Harcourt Ring Road section of Aker-Nkpor junction through the swampy area by the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE) fence for a river crossing bridge onto Oguru-Ama, Bakana, Bukuma and Tombia communities.

In his remarks, Managing Director of Lubrik Construction Company Limited, Hadi Shihadi, said they have already mobilized to site, and are confident to deliver the project on schedule with the cooperation of host communities.

Highlights of the event were prayers for the Governor and Rivers State Government by traditional rulers from Rumuolumeni and Kalabari communities as well as the conventional turning on of the grader’s ignation to signal the commencement of construction work on the project.


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