The Ijaw Youth Council has called on the Federal Government to fast track the completion of the East West road project, especially Bayelsa State axis to reduce sufferings of the people in the area.
Mr Stephen Kilebi, Deputy Director of Press, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, disclosed in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
Kilebi quoted Mr Kennedy Olorogun, Chairman, Central Zone of Ijaw Youth Council as making the call at a Strategic Community Engagement for Sustainable Peace in the Niger Delta, held at Biogbolo Community, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Olorogun expressed displeasure at the slow pace of work on the Bayelsa axis of the East West road, which according to him, had been responsible for a number of accidents and loss of lives on the road.
“The Bayelsa State axis of the East West road spans from Ahoada in Rivers State to Kiama in Bayelsa State, which is section 2, sub-section 2 of the flagship project.
“The Federal Government should speed up the completion of the project as well as shift its attention to the development of the rural communities in the Niger Delta region,” he said.
He underscored the need for the Federal Government to provide social-infrastructural facilities in the rural communities such as potable water, electricity, health centres, school buildings and employment opportunities among others.
He added that the rural people borne much of the burdens of development challenges in the oil-rich region.
In the same vein, the Paramount Ruler of Biogbolo community, His Royal Highness, Osain Paul, said that the Niger Delta region was the poorest in the Federation.
Osain appealed to the Federal Government to equip the Ministry with needed resources to carry out its mandate of developing the region.
He attributed the level of poverty to the major cause of kidnappings, vandalism of public assets and other prevailing vices in the Niger Delta region.
In his remark, Mr Aminu Bisalla, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, attributed financial constraints to the completion of the East West road and other ongoing projects in the region.
Represented by the Director Legal Services of the Ministry, Barrister Gregory Zi, he said that more efforts would be put in place to complete the East West road Project.
He said that the project has been ongoing for years, adding that apart from the East West road many other development projects were ongoing in Bayelsa and other states in the region.
He listed some of the projects to include Kolokuma, Amassoma-Igbedi road, shore protection of Igbounbiri and Oboribeighe in Kolokuma Local Government Area.
Other were provision of water/reticulation in Odoni Community, Sagbama Local Government Area, design of Jetty at Kuala, among others.
“It is pertinent for stakeholders to work together at this crucial time in order to eliminate obstacles to development in the region,” Bisalla reiterated.
Earlier, Mrs Lauren Braide, Director Community Development and Education in the ministry said that a clear understanding of the dynamics of developmental challenges in the region and collaboration with communities were key to achieving a peaceful and better secured Niger Delta.
Braide, who was represented by Mr Muktar Garki, Assistant Director in the ministry, added that the community engagements by the Ministry were necessitated by the need to further enlighten the people of the region on policies that were geared towards regional development and stability. (NAN)