By Chris Ochayi
ABUJAâ€”TO ensure it fulfill promises made to the people of the Niger Delta region in the wake of the amnesty programme, the Federal Government, yesterday, started a process for the design and construction of the multi-billion naira East-West railway and the inland waterways transportation system in the region.
Besides, the government has also approved N18 billion for the construction of six inter-state roads across the region.
Chairman of the Infrastructural Sub-Committee of the Amnesty programme and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Ufot Ekaete who disclosed this in Abuja at a meeting with members of the sub-committee, explained that the projects were part of the post amnesty infrastructural projects approved by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
Yesterdayâ€™s meeting which was attended by the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio, his counterpart in the Finance Ministry, Dr. Mansur Muhtar and two other new members appointed by the government from the oil producing communities of Rivers and Ondo states .
Ekaete said the sub-committee was to review the progress made so far since the inaugural meeting held in January 2010 where it unveiled development guidelines for deepening critical infrastructural growth for the region.
He noted that the development programme under the post amnesty projects also include construction of new towns in each of the nine states in the region.
Stressing that the new moves were meant to work out developmental strategy for the region, Ekaete said, â€œin the wake of the post amnesty programme, Mr. President approved that the ministry should undertake new infrastructural programmes namely: new towns development programme, inland waterways transportation programme and the west-east railway transportation system.
â€œAccordingly, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has begun consultations with the nine states to get the New Towns Development programmes started. On Friday (today), I will be meeting with Works Commissioners of the nine states to brainstorm on how best to carry out the project.
â€œIn the same vein, we are working with the Ministry of Transport to design and construct the East-West Railway Transportation system as well as the Inland Waterways transportation system.â€
Reviewing achievements of the ministry so far, Ekaete said the ministry had awarded contracts for the construction of 360 units of two and three bedroom houses in the nine states of the region.
He explained that each state has a total of 40 units under the first phase of the ministryâ€™s housing scheme and the contractors were expected to mobilize to the sites once the team now in the respective states takes over the land meant for the project.
On the road, Ekaete who noted the ministryâ€™s commitment towards reducing the suffering of the people through opening up the region, added, â€œwe have completed the design of no fewer than 36 roads across the region.â€