By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa – Reprieve would soon come the way of motorists plying the ailing Tombia-Edepie road connecting the Niger Delta University, Amassoma in the Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State as the construction company handling the project, Enerco has returned to site.
The ailing route not only lead to the Bayelsa State government owned university at Amassoma but also connects several communities in the Gbaran-Ekpetiama axis as well as the multibillion naira Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Gbaran-Ubie integrated oil and gas project.
In spite of its very busy nature and importance to the nation oil and gas industry it has been a source of concern to most motorists in the last five years given its deplorable state.
The only federal presence in the area has been the connecting bridge across the Nun River which separate communities along the Amassoma-Ekpetiama axis from the mainland Yenagoa the state capital.
Troubled by public complaints about the deplorable state of the Tombia-Edepie stretch of the route the Bayelsa State government in partnership with the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the road to Enerco Construction Company last year.
Expectation that the project would be completed on record time was high given the speed at which the firm mobilized to site and the grading and erection of several connecting bridges on the road.
However this optimism gave way to despair when the firm pulled out of site during last rainy season ostensibly due to the swampy nature terrain leaving the road in terrible state.
Also some of the sand dumps around the base of the connecting bridges were eroded due to the recent flood experienced in the area.
Travelling on the road could be hellish as the entire stretch from Edepie junction in Yenagoa the state capital to Tombia is like riding on turbulent water.
Apart from contending with the deplorable state of the road, commuters are also subjected to offensive effluent being discharge into the adjoining creeks as well as refuse dump that is almost spilling into the road.
A journey on the road to the university community of Amassoma which ordinarily should not take more than 30 minutes, could stretch to well over one and half hours because of the several craters and failed portions on the route.
However the return of the construction firm to site last week has further rekindled the hope of the people that the project would be completed this time around in anticipation of the inauguration of the Gbaran-Ubie integrated oil and gas project which is expected to take place in 2010.
Interestingly, there was a beehive of activities at road project site last week when Sweet Crude visited the area as heavy duty vehicles and earth moving equipment were going about the length and breath of the road.
Also work has commenced on the base of the abandoned connecting bridges to replace the dangerously hanging narrow bailey bridges constructed over thirty years ago by SPDC team of engineers to enable their personnel access their location in the swamp.
A SPDC staff who spoke anonymously told Sweet Crude that though the project is a joint venture between with the state government he however said it was the desire of both partners to ensure the early completion of the project.
He expressed optimism that the completion of the road and the Gbaran-Ubie integrated oil and gas project would further boost the economy of the local communities and the state.
Some motorists plying the route who spoke to Sweet Crude expressed gratitude to the state government and SPDC for embarking on the rehabilitation of the road.
“Thank God the SPDC and Bayelsa State government have come together to fix the road. You can image the number of vehicles that have been grounded because of the bad road. Some of the our (NDU) shuttle buses have packed up and this is responsible for the long queues being experienced at the motor park outside the university campus,” said Macaulay John, a student of the NDU.
Also, a staff of the state government owned NDU who spoke anonymously pleaded with the authorities to ensure the speedy completion of the project given the strategic nature of the road not only to the state but also the nation oil and gas industry.