RIGHT of REPLY
I WANT to take this opportunity to respond to an article published in the Tuesday May 28, 2013 edition of the Vanguard Newspaper, captioned “Group Writes Okorocha on Ekemmegbu Oha – Afor Uzoagba Road.”
It is utterly reprehensible that any individual or group of persons will go to this extent to malign a company’s reputation without any facts regarding the subject matter.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am a citizen of Uzoagba, the community where this project is being implemented, and without sounding conceited, I consider myself part of the privileged elite in this community and have had a decent track record of success within and outside Nigeria. Furthermore, I come from a family whose previous generations were active community leaders and successful public servants who contributed more to the growth and development of Uzoagba and Ikeduru in general.
My father, Chief Maurice Irobiegbulam Ibe, KSM, of blessed memory, had the singular honour of grading our community roads every December as far as I could remember, till he retired from the civil service. This was just one of the numerous community projects he engaged in, not to talk about ensuring the existence of our community schools, employment for the youths and scholarships for those who could not afford a basic education. My Grand Father, Major James Ibeawuchi, was the first President General of Uzoagba Town Union. Under him, Uzoagba laid the foundation for its present day development. Again his community deeds are too numerous to mention in this article, neither are these the bone of contention within this piece.
Therefore I do not need attention seekers or any group to lecture me on the importance of community development because while these individuals are just waking up to its importance, I have lived with it all my life. This is a sponsored and a calculated attempt to tarnish my hard earned reputation and drag my good name to the mud.
Todah Links, the contractor handling the Ekemmegbu Oha-Afor Uzoagba Road project, is a division of a larger multinational corporation with extensive track record in Nigeria and beyond, therefore its competence or ability to perform can hardly be in doubt or be questioned.
The contractor did not seek or lobby for this road project, but was invited to undertake this and various other projects in and around the state because of its track record and capacity on a multiplicity of projects executed over the years for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Messrs Todah Links Ventures mobilised to the Ekemmegbu Oha-Afor Uzoagba Road on January 12, 2012. The company began by conducting a land and topographic survey of the area with a chain measurement of the 6.5 kilometre road starting at Ekemmegbuoha in Uratta Owerri North Local Government Area and ending at Afor Uzoagba in Ikeduru Local Government Area both in Imo State. For general information and the avoidance of doubt, Todah Links Ventures was not paid one kobo to mobilise to site, neither was it given an award letter, design or bill of quantities by the State or Local Government when this project took off.
Todah Links heeded the call of our governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha that Imo citizens should come home and assist his government in developing Imo State. He also warned that no one will be given a Kobo till one has mobilised equipment and manpower to the site, after which an inspection will be conducted before any funds were approved for the company. These were the circumstances under which Todah Links Ventures mobilised to site and started work.
Todah Links simultaneously deployed earth moving equipments to begin clearing and the removal of shrubs and trees on the 2.5 kilometre portion of the road from Ekemmegbuoha to Umualumaku/Obokwe junction in Uzoagba. This portion comprised of a 30 meters wide virgin clearing, removal of trees and shrubs to capture the road as originally designed by the Sam Mbakwe administration. Incidentally, the government of Sam Mbakwe could not get the two communities to agree to the construction of this road even when Dr. Ray Ofoegbu, a native son, was a Commissioner in his government. It is therefore a great credit to the present government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha that the award and construction of this road even became a reality.
Firstly, Todah Links Ventures proceeded to construct a Culvert/Bridge over the Okitankwo River to join the two communities of Uratta and Uzoagba and enable the communities to start utilising the road immediately. Following the completion of the clearing and grading of this section, the company now focused on the grading and expansion of the Umualumaku/Obokwe to Afor Uzoagba section. Furthermore, the company completed 4.5 kilometres of earth work which included the application of laterite on the Uzoagba section and was about to embark on the construction of drainages in the erosion prone areas around Afor Uzoagba when the rains started in 2012.
It is therefore slander and callousness of the worst kind to claim that “the contractor has only bulldozed (cleared) the site even when an appreciable sum of money has been released and absconded”. Nothing could be further from the truth. As of today, Todah Links Ventures has received less than 3.5% (three and a half percent) payment of the total value the project.
Dr. MAURICE G’NEWS is group executive chairman of Todah Links Ventures.