By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
Works and Infrastructure Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Hon. Lawrence Ewhrudjako, speaks on how Governor Seriake Dickson has turned the state into a huge construction site.
What has the Dickson administration been able to put in place so far in order to develop the state and attract investments?
Well, what His Excellency, Governor Seriake Dickson, has put in place is quite massive; massive to the extent that all the facets of development and tourism have been well greased by the governor. I say this because even in the tourism sub-sector, there is a lot of work going on there. We are developing our infrastructure in two categories: what we call the social infrastructural and then the investment infrastructural development.
The investment infrastructural development is intended to attract investments while the social infrastructural investment development is undertaken as a duty and obligation of government, which has a duty to provide social amenities to the people of the state. In that vein, we have the Outer Ring Road, which is under construction- the outer Ring Road is like the Nnamdi Azikiwe Road that is around Abuja and the essence of the road is to decongest the Yenagoa City Centre so that people are not held up unnecessarily.
To ensure that that is achieved, we are developing another six-side profiled roads; we call them Road 24, Road 30, Road 38, Road 21, Road 27c, Road 31 and Road 28. These roads are all emptying from the Isaac Boro Road, which we are dualising into the outer ring road so if there is traffic congestion anywhere, you can just sneak through any of the dualised roads into the outer ring road.
What we are doing in Yenagoa is that all internal roads have dual carriageways. We have taken note of all the single-lane roads in the capital and we are going to expand them because some of them are less than six metres. All we want to do is to construct standard 8-metres road across the capital so that we can have standard drive ways, walk ways, flowers, street light and drainage.
For the investment infrastructural development, we are building an airport at Amassoma and we are also building a deep seaport at Agge. To ensure that the hinterlands are also taken care of, we are constructing the Three Senatorial Road. One of the roads is the 38-Km Oporoama Road, which we started early this year. Already we have done four kms with asphalt and 6.6 kms with stone base and 9.8km sand filling.
At km 15 of the road, we are putting a major bridge that will be crossing to Oporoma. So with that, we are sure, we are opening up that part of the state for investment and development. Towards Bayelsa West, we are doing the Tororowa-Ekeremo-Agge Road. On that road, we have achieved 3.5 kms of sand filling and they are working hard to do the first level of asphalting. We are stockpiling sand for them to backfill and quicken the work.
After that we will take the next road to ensure that all the three Senatorial districts in the state are provided with major roads that will open the areas up.
What is the state doing to checkmate crime?
We are also providing adequate security across the state because we cannot do anything without security. Synonymous with development is peace and security and we have consciously built the Integrated Security and Command Centre, which will enable us to monitor what is going on across the state and we are also installing Closed Circuit Television Cameras in all strategic places in the state.
There is already a law that may compel all hotel operators in the state to mount CCTV cameras in their facilities to monitor what goes on in those places at all times. You know that before now criminality was walking on the streets of Yenagoa but today, that has been effectively contained by the present administration of Governor Seriake Dickson. So nobody can commit a crime in the state and successfully hide away.
So in terms of infrastructure, the government is laying a very solid base in the city and across the state. We are also constructing two major flyovers in the capital, Yenaoga to ease traffic and make life very easy for road users. In the next few weeks we are going to pay compensation to those whose houses have been affected by the flyover project. We are going to pay over N1.2 billion to house owners, whose details have been worked out.
It is quite huge because the area is built-up already. I can say that since we came into office, we have paid over N3.4 billion as compensation to enable us to undertake our development projects. We are having two problems in the course of development of infrastructure. The first is difficult terrain that makes our cost of construction very high and built up areas which require payment of compensation to demolish and build.
So in terms of preparation, I think the necessary foundation has been laid in the past one year and we are building on that foundation. I believe that in the next two years given the speed that the governor is going in his silent revolution in infrastructural development, a new Dubai would have emerged in Bayelsa State.
The Impression outsiders have is that there is only one road in Bayelsa and the rest is water. So what has the administration done to increase accessibility to and from Yenagoa?
We have done a lot. First, the Outer Ring Road is one and the other is the road to Amassoma. We are constructing a bridge at Torogbeni, which has 12-span. Work on the bridge is progressing and once the water recedes, more attention would be paid to it. Before the end of March, that road would have been completed. That road will take us strait to Sagbama. We are not going to have only one road coming into Bayelsa.
We are going to have three roads into Bayelsa. Even the Glory Land Drive Phase 2 is part of what we are doing to open up another vista from which you can get into Yenagoa not necessarily from Mbiama. We are trying to diversify the roads through which one can access Yenagoa, the state capital with ease.
What are you doing to industrialise the state?
We believe that after putting a conducive atmosphere in place, the investments will roll in. We have done a lot in terms of attracting investments. There is no week that passes without the governor receiving requests from groups and individuals for investment. We are looking at investments from two fronts: tourism and the oil industry and agro-based industry.
As we speak we have established a starch production plant in Eberebiri and a Cassava farm, a banana farm, and green farm and an aquaculture farm for production and export. We also have plans to revive our palm estates. We have put up at least 50 houses in each of the Local Government Areas and major towns. Within Yenagoa, we have three major housing estates and the Golf Estate that is coming up for the big players and a tourist island.
In case of power generation, the state has just signed a contract with IPP America for the generation of additional 120 megawatts of power to add to what we have. We are also looking at power clusters scheme with hydro electricity.