By Emma Amaize
WARRI, the oil city in Delta State, is, no doubt, one of the hotbeds of the Niger-Delta struggle and since ex-militants dropped arms in 2009 and accepted amnesty, the next task was for elected /appointed leaders, both at local and state levels, to develop the oil communities, which was the major basis for the agitation.
One of those saddled with this onerous responsibility is the chair, Caretaker Committee Warri South-West Local Government Area, Reverend Sam Ken. He spoke to Sunday Vanguard on how he was distributing development projects in the area, populated by Ijaws and Itsekiris, to stem unrest, militancy and other violent activities.
He said: “I am aware that the major reason advanced for militancy by youths in the region was underdevelopment and when I was appointed the caretaker chairman of Warri South-West local government, a critical segment in the Niger-Delta struggle by Governor Emmanuel Uduagha, I decided to spread projects in the 20 wards to bring development and checkmate militancy.
“Indeed, there is really underdevelopment in the riverside communities, so what we need because of inadequate resources was to carry out what I call a NEED assessment in all the communities on what the people believe is their most pressing need based on finances of a local government council.It is based on this that we are doing the 15 projects cutting across the 20 wards at the moment”..
Ken continued: “The people are happy that we are managing available resources prudently, we are doing the projects that they asked for and there is no unrest in Warri South-West. For example in Bateren community, an Itsekiri town, where to access the next compound, you have to use native flyovers because of the terrain, not to cross the river, the input that came from there form our NEED assessment is that they needed us to construct foot bridges across the entire community. As I speak, work is practically completed in the first phase and I have ordered that they should go into the second phase.
“At Akpakpa and Ajudaigbo communities in Ugborodo area, another Itsekiri area, the people said the waterways from the Ocean to access the community has become silted, covered with royal palms and causing flooding in the community. Our engineers said it is capital intensive, not local government project, but insisted, we hired a swamp boggy for millions of naira. Now, we have reopened the natural canal and people can now access the communities.
“At Isaba community, which has two segments of native and rural habitation, the king stays on dry land and the native settlement is in the swamp. They are close to each other, not too far from each other, but the community could not develop because they find it hard to go into the forest, so we have cut the forest into a new layout and we have constructed 17 earth roads, people now go and access plot and build houses.
“Batan is a sub clan of Diebiri community, right in Aladja, the NEED assessment from that place is for construction of public toilet. When the people, both men and women, go to toilet, they expose their nakedness to passersby. As we speak, the job is basically completed.
“We also have Desmond Island, Sandfill 1, called Warri corner, they too want public toilet, the work is also nearing completion. Recently, the Gbaramatu monarch said health center in Oporoza is unusable; work is currently on-the going on rehabilitation of Oporoza health centre.
“Let me tell you, there are these three communities in Gbaramatu – Azama, Enikorogha and Ubefan communities with a common old primary school in Ubefan. For the children in Azama and Enikorogha to access the school, they have to paddle against the ocean, but there is an earth road, which connects the three communities.
“Due to flood and lack, the children have to paddle through the ocean to come to Ubefan and it is a big challenge. However, there is over 3 kilometers of earth road divided by creeks and I asked if we could not construct wooden bridges. Engineers said the project is above what the council can do, I said we have to do it. The reconstruction of Ubefan, Azama –Enikorogha road with wooden bridges to connect the portions divided by creeks is under construction right now.