…As forum alleges marginalisation of Kalabari Kingdom
By Davies Iheamnachor
Group, Kengema Unity Forum, KUF, an apolitical group in the Kalabari Kingdom, has criticised the Rivers State Government on the N13.48 billion Trans-Kalabari road Project.
The Rivers State Government on the 25th of March, 2021, announced the commencement of the first phase of 13 kilometers Tran-Kalabari road that would connect communities of the Kalabari axis of the state, awarding the project to Lubriks Construction Compan at 13.48 billion Naria.
However, the leader of KUF, Amb. Sobomabo Jackrich, during a meeting of the body at Buguma in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of the state, questioned how the government arrived at the N13.48 billion for the project.
Sobomabo claimed that the project was not the true representation of the said Tran-Kalabari road, explaining that in the true sense, ‘Tran-Kalabari road’ should connect the island communities to the mainland and not just roads linking communities of the island.
Jackrich in a speech titled: ‘Halt Perpetuation of Injustice against Kalabari People,’ alleged marginalization of the Kalabari people by the state government, expressing concerns over the bidding procedure and how the state government arrived at the proposed N13.48 billion for the road project.
He maintained that the forum was not in opposition or at war with the governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, adding that it was only engaging the government in constructive criticism for better development.
Jackrich said constructing a road to link up Krakrama, Omekwe-ama, Angulama, Omekwe Tari-Ama, Sangama, Mina-Ama, and others known as Central Group, can best be described as Asari-Toru or Central Group internal link roads and not Trans-Kalabari road.
He said: “However, it is worrisome that the overall description of the said contract by the Rivers State Government does not in any way align or reflect the reality of what the Trans-Kalabari road ought to be.
“The Central Group is an island surrounded by water and each of the communities of Krakrama, Omekwe-ama, Angulama, Omekwe Tari-Ama, Sangama, and Mina-Ama already have bushy road track connections (though not tarred), that motorbikes or cars could drive through if available.
“Clearing up bushes to create and construct roads in the Central Group should not be translated to calling such project Trans Kalabari road.”
The KUF leader queried how the government arrived at the said N13.48 billion for the road when it constructed three flyovers in Port Harcourt with over N21 billion, noting that the Trans-Kalabari road would have been given better attention.
He said: “Let us even leave the issue of the starting point of the road and focus on the project funding. The state government said the projected cost of the road is N13.48 Billion and will be funded at N1 Billion monthly by an irrevocable standing payment order against the state’s internally generated revenue.
“How did the Rivers State Government arrive at the said N13.48 Billion contract sum for the project? Which firm carried out the bill of quantities survey?
“The Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rebisi and Rumuogba flyovers at Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor awarded to Julius Berger were at the cost of N21 Billion according to the government, and seventy percent of the contract sum as and that of the rest flyovers were paid upfront, flouting the law of the state restricting down payment of contract sum to thirty percent (that was yet to be reviewed at the time).”