After waiting for over four decades to get their community linked to the rest of the country by road, the people of the coast city of Nembe in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State a week ago, had cause to celebrate when the state Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah made history as the first public office holder to visit the ancient kingdom in a four wheel vehicle.
The trip marked an important milestone in the construction of the key highway in the Niger Delta.
The Nembe Kingdom alone, which produces over two hundred thousand (200,000) barrels of oil per day, is not linked to any part of the country by road; a development that had forced the natives to stage series of protest over the years on the noticeable neglect of their area by the federal government.
Phase 1 of the project linking Imiringi and Ogbia, involved a 38-kilometre stretch with two major bridges and was completed in 2005, funded solely by the SPDC Joint Venture.
Phase 2 links Ogbia and Nembe, measuring a distance of over 27 kilometres with six bridges and more than 50 culverts across very difficult swamp terrain.
Sweet Crude findings revealed that, the contract for the phase 2 was awarded in December 2005 and work commenced in February the following year, but has been disrupted several times by security challenges.
Phase 2 it was further learnt costs N24.4 billion of which the SPDC JV is funding 70 per cent with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) responsible for the remaining 30 per cent.
However work on the road was abandoned due to lack of funding by the intervention partners, especially from the NDDC, until the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson intervened with a support funding of N3billion.
The financial instrument was handed a fortnight ago to the construction company by the state government.
The Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), while on inspection tour of the Ogbia-Nembe road, drove in a four-wheel vehicle to get to Nembe City for the first time to the admiration of the people of the kingdom, who over the years have had to contend with travelling on the turbulent waters with the attendant loss of lives to boat mishaps and pirates’ attacks.
Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), had attributed the feat to the sincere commitment of Governor Seriake Dickson, towards delivering the project in terms of pushing the funding partners that include Shell Petroleum Development Company and the Niger Delta Development Commission.
According to him, the commitment of the state government to the completion of the Ogbia-Nembe road project was as a result of its proximity to Brass, the emerging business hub of Bayelsa State, which play host to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, the Liquefied Natural Gas Project, the Nigerian Navy and other maritime activities.
He urged the people of Nembe Kingdom to continue to support the Restoration Government of Governor Dickson by maintaining the existing peace in the area as there can be no meaningful development without peace.