By Sunny Ikhioya
ABRACADABRA! That sums up the story of Obire and Ereku streets, both located at the Odion area, off cemetery road, Warri, Delta state. They are both access roads to the Warri main stadium and according to Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA’s requirements, such roads must be in good condition before the stadium can be approved for international competitions. So by all ramifications, according to FIFA, both Obire and Ereku streets in Warri must be in good motorable conditions, with free access to the stadium always. How they managed to convince FIFA officials to conduct an international youth competition without this vital requirement being fulfilled is a modern day wonder. But, that is not the focus of this piece.
For several years, the Obire street was in deplorable conditions with successive governments’ being nonchalant about its conditions. The residents of the street became condemned to their plight. It was therefore, a pleasant surprise to the people when they saw tractors and tippers mobilised to site sometime in year 2016. The excitement that greeted the mobilisation to site cannot be described. The people had waited for over four decades for this.
According to sources, the project had been scheduled to last for two weeks – 800-1000 metres road rehabilitation – but it will take about another one year for a semblance of completion to be achieved. We were told that this project has been contracted out for at least three times and each time nothing happenes. The rumour was that, they had to quickly mobilise to site in response to the Vice President’s threat to deal with erring Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC’s contractors who abandoned their projects.
The first abnormality witnessed in the project was the absence of the contractor’s signpost on site. As a result, people were left guessing who owns the project – the state government, DESOPADEC, NDDC, Federal government, community, etc The hide and seek games the contractors were up to in the course of the project became another cause for worry.
Today, they are on site, tomorrow they are not. A project of two weeks lingered on for months turning the initial excitement turned into despair for the people. At last it became clear that the project belongs to NDDC and when finally, they did leave the site, the people are left in disbelief on what manner of road construction this has turned out to be. The question to ask is: Who is the NDDC’s engineer assigned to supervise the project? Three months after the so called “completion” of the project, what was meant to be a succour in terms of better access road and drainage, has turned out to be a mirage. Potholes that have become breeding grounds for mosquitos dot the entire stretch. How can a company, in the name of contractors to NDDC be so fraudulent? How can employees assigned to supervise community projects be so treacherous? Today, the people of Obire and Ereku streets in Odion, Warri are now left on their own, they hope only on the Almighty God because there is no “big man” to fight their cause.
This is the story of so many deprived communities in Nigeria today. Those assigned to oversee our commonwealth have turned it into avenues for personal aggrandisement. This is the story of a project that has been awarded at least thrice, and each time the job was abandoned. This time, they did mobilise to site and actually did the grading of the road, mixing sand, granite and cement. Unfortunately, the cement used was far less than the quantity required to hold the mix together. So, three months after construction, with the first rain, the cement is washed off, leaving the granite and sand which that put vehicles and pedestrians plying that road. As it was in the beginning, so it is presently; for Obire is back to its old state – flooding during the rainy season.
If urgent steps are not taken to remedy the situation, these potholes, will soon become gullies with environmental consequences. The NDDC management must call the contractors back to site to complete the assignment. The only remedy for the moment is to tar the surface with bitumen so that the sand and granite can hold underneath or the road would have to be graded again with the correct cement mix. The project as it is presently is a sham and such things can only happen in banana republics, where the people have no say. It is really an insult on the intelligence of the people in the community and all of those responsible for this must be properly brought to book.
The other day, the governor of the state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was at a gathering were several speakers spoke about rebuilding Warri and its environs. The issue again is; the rebirth of Warri must begin with the people in leadership, to set the correct examples. As it is now, it is only those in government and politics that are visible, all other aspect of Warri is stagnant.
This is because, those assigned to take care of the public good have turned it to personal business(s) to the detriment of the people; the common goal is being subsumed for personal interests. We must as a people begin to reject fraudsters amongst us, especially those ones that affect the living conditions of the people. How can a contractor who lives in Warri, construct an NDDC road in Warri that could not last for three months? It is indeed a shame!