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Agip Flyover Construction Peaks

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Construction work at the Agip flyover bridge along the busy Ikwerre Road in the Port Harcourt metropolis is going on at an increased pace.

The construction work is these days peaking, as the construction firm, RIVOC which is handling the project seems to have woken up from slumber to give the flyover project the expected push.

As it were, the flyover bridge is taking shape, as the Model Girls Secondary School axis of it is gradually been filled with sharp white sand on a daily basis. The pillars holding the fly over bridge in the midst of solid iron rods and powerful walls on both sides have been firmly put in place.

Equipment and machines driving heavy iron rods into the ground are daily found at the construction site doing what they know best, to give the flyover bridge the much-desired impetus. Men who are moving and operating the machines are equally putting hands on the deck to ensure that the flyover bridge takes shape.

While some of the men  were busy directing tippers and trucks to pour loads of sharp white sand on top of the flyover bridge when The Tide on Sunday visited the site last Thursday, others were busy guiding machines to force down heavy iron pillars into the ground.

Caterpillars and bulldozers were also seen doing one thing or the other to increase the  tempo of work at the site.

As was expected, the secondary school axis of the road, was closed for traffic that Thursday morning to enable construction work to go on with ease, and without interruption by road users especially motorists. The road remained closed till about 2 pm when it was opened for motorists and other road users. Closure of the road has, these days, been the trend, particularly during the morning hours of each day.

Work is equally progressing at an increased pace at the other end of the flyover bridge close to the office of the Rivers State Environmental Sanitation Authority (RSESA). Several workers were also seen at the site in the afternoon doing their jobs to ensure that the flyover bridge takes shape in no distant time.

The rate at which the construction work at the site has progressed in recent times may have confounded several residents of the city. This is because the situation today at the site is different from what it was a few months ago when work was apparently going on at a snail speed, giving the residents the impression that the construction firm handling the flyover bridge project may after all not be serious in handling the project.

For sure, those who had some negative comments for the firm and its workers may be forced to swallow their words going by the progress currently being made at the site as all hands seem to be on the deck to complete the project in record time.

Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi had during the Accountability Forum recently in Port Harcourt declared that several road projects going on across the state would be delivered in December. Nobody is however, sure whether the Agip flyover bridge would  be among the government’s sponsored projects to be completed next month.

Also speaking with The Tide on Sunday in an exclusive interview recently, Hon Augustine Ngo, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Projects explained that the state government would as from November be on the neck of contractors handling various projects to ensure that they deliver quality jobs.

According to him, the administration was also poised to ensure that all ongoing projects across the state were completed next year.

The Special Adviser further indicated that the state government would intensify the supervision and monitoring of the various projects to ensure that quality jobs were executed. The Agip flyover bridge is unarguably one of the road projects embarked upon by the state government to decongest traffic around the Agip junction along the busy Ikwerre Road in the Port Harcourt metropolis. Right now, the roads around the construction site are in a bad shape as they are being literally taken over by bumps and potholes. As it is expected, the construction firm would do ample justice to the entire road as it works assiduously hard these days to complete the flyover bridge.

Another good point is that the Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi Drive which begins at the Rumueme Civic Centre and terminates at the back of Timber Shade within the Abuja By-Pass axis of the city is now handy and useful for vehicles diverted from the ongoing Agip flyover as the construction of the flyover enters a critical stage.

Whenever the Ikwerre Road and the site where the job is going on is closed for traffic, traffic is diverted to the Drive. Such traffic diversions, however, cause traffic jams every day within the Civic Centre axis, as cars and other vehicles scramble for space with each other.

The traffic jams particularly in the morning hours along the route are known to have given both motorists and commuters a hectic time as several residents of the city who go to their offices through the route are held up for hours to the point that they often get to their offices late.

For sure, the completion of the Agip flyover bridge would provide the expected panacea to the hydra-headed traffic bottle necks  that were often noticed at Agip junction particularly in the past. There will be a big relief in the coming months when RIVOC delivers the flyover bridge to the government at the end of the day.

 

Donatus Ebi

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Press Centre: Eye-sore, Of Port Harcourt?

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We have travelled round the country and there is nowhere you can see this kind of thing as press centre.

It is a sight that would have filled the late journalist and lawmaker, Ernest Ikoli with revulsion and perhaps drawn base reactions from him. And to think that the dilapidated centre was actually named to immortalise him is a disservice to the memory of a great statesman.

It is hard to imagine if his weather beaten statue that reinforces the claim that the centre is named after him would not have walked away in disgust and leave curses in its trail, if it could just look back at the neglect accentuated after the rainstorm of April 6, 2010.

But alas, only visitors to this centre of Port Harcourt, where all the arms of government are in touching distance, look in shock and disbelief and sometimes voice out their consternation at the desolate state of the NUJ Secretariat/Press Centre.

One visitor was over heard wondering how the skyline could be allowed to be so defaced by such a structure that should otherwise have been prided as a bastion of democracy rightly positioned adjacent to the magisterial Rivers State House of Assembly complex and by the imposing Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC zonal secretariat.

Or indeed, some metres away from the judiciary complex where magnificent structures seem to sprout.

There is no gain saying the grandeur of the Rivers State Government House. The axis boasts a sky line that only reminds or alarms any perfunctory observer about the neglect of the Fourth Estate of the Realm,. The torch bearer of democracy that we all benefit from.

It would be seen that the government even with members that had worked in that secretariat and the elite of the state, especially the loud public analysts on radio have not only turned a blind eye to the centre that now looks like an old war relic.

Perhaps, it was what pushed the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr Opaka Dokubo, to take his case to the popular “Nigerian pidgin language radio station Wazobia FM, to further drive his appeal for assistance.

However, Mr Dokubo averred that the union had actually made a request to the governor, through the Commissioner for Information, Mrs Ibim Seminatari, a journalists and was still in the process of securing the desired assistance.

The state secretary of the union, Mr Stanley Job told The Tide on Sunday that it was the wish of the body to have a completely new structure that would complement the architectural pieces in that axis, match the expectations of people on what a state press centre should look like and add glory to Rivers State, but for now it has decided to scale down its ambition. The long and short of the representation to the government is that there has been no word other than a non – definitive date in July to discuss the issue.

It is short of expectations of a union with a sizeable number of their members in government.

Though Mr Dokubo admitted that there were professional colleagues in government, he said, members of the union in the state were aware and all had a responsibility to the development of the union and its infrastructure whether they have been formally solicited or not. The fact is that the union had since held meetings on the issue and former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and former commissioner for Information, Mr Ogbonna Nwuke had attended the meetings and made useful contribution. Mr Dokubo disclosed that the only other entity that it visited so far, the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency  (RSSDA) had responded with reasonable donation that was still not enough.

He explained that the body had decided to do a simple renovation but the estimates were beyond what the union, even with the RSSDA support, could deploy to meet the cost for now.

The thinking of some members has been that though there may be no formal budgetary ties, as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the government could help. “We have travelled round the country and there is nowhere you can see this kind of thing as press centre,” said one journalist. And that was even before the constant seeping of water from the de-roofed floor started leaving watermarks in the offices below  and causing other damages.

In the views of the state council chairman, any government or entity that treasures democracy, good governance and the relevance of the fourth estate to its success had a responsibility to contribute to its growth.

“Anywhere in the world, government should have a hand in building a vibrant press,” the chairman said.

He explained that what the state council needs to fix the roof is N3,2 million, even if their ambition is a structure that will help raise funds and assist the union fulfill other obligations. What the executive of the union seems to have  is a healthy dose of optimism. However, unless something is done fast, the structure will continue to send wrong signals about the attitude to the press in Port Harcourt and remain a drawback on general efforts to restore the Garden City.

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Unease In Yenagoa Over Gun Attacks

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In the past few weeks, something akin to the thug of War has been taking place in different parts of the Bayelsa State. There has been cult related fighting. Anxiety and tension has been at its peak at the state capital, Yenagoa while the stories coming from the coastal communities of the state are not different.

The incidence of atrocities and other abnormalities has become the other of the day as violence and illegalities have seemed the norm since the last two weeks in the state.

Last Weekend, unknown gunmen attacked the maternal home of the Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva in Okpoma Community of Brass Local Government councils, while the governor’s uncle, an 83 years-old retired major was Manhandled. The attack on the governor’s maternal home, Okpoma Community, is coming few days after the men of the Joint Military Task Force code named Operation Restore Hope were deployed into the streets of the state capital following rising cases of attacks on homes of political office holders and alleged cult killings of over seven persons in the state.

The home of the impeached Deputy Governor, Peremobowei Ebebi at Aleibiri community of Ekeremor Local Government, the home of the State chairman of the Sanitation Authority, Chief Reginal Dede in Akassa Local Council and the Senior Special Assistants to the Governor on Conflict Resolution, Mike were also attacked in the last few days.

The attack on the Okpoma home of the governor was reportedly launched at about 4.30am on Saturday by unidentified men in two speed boats. The armed youths, numbering about eighteen invaded the community and vandalised homes.

Some indigenes of the community, including the state governor, who visited the community to assess the extent of damage, claimed that though no life was lost in the incident, the State Commissioner for Information, Strategy and Orientation, Hon. Nathan Egba told newsmen after the tour of the governor to his maternal home in Okpoma to assess the damage, said the series of attacks and violent actions in the state maybe a coordinated effort by some persons to disrupt the existing peace in the state and embarrass the state governor. Egba,s aid “it is obvious that may be part of a coordinated attack to make the Bayelsa environment unsafe. The state has enjoyed peace because the state governor has invested much in sustenance of the peace and development of the state. The governor’s record at achieving and maintaining peace in the state may have threatened some individuals.”

Similarly, at the early hours of Monday, the country home of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Nestor Binabor was attacked, even as a dynamite attack at his house did not have the desired effect on his building due to the resistance put up by the youths of the community which equally led to the killing of Mr. Esanpou Nainar in the clash at the waterside, investigations by newsmen revealed that the attackers of the home of the Speaker, situated close to the waterside of the Okunbiri Community, arrived the town at about 12.30 am in two speed boats and immediately moved to the old building owned by the Speaker to plant dynamites.

But some youths of Okunbiri, according to indigenes of the community, had mobilised and moved in two directions to stop the attack and apprehend those involved. But the invaders, according to the youths, sighted the movement and rained volley of gun shots at the youth group in the counter force boat.

The Speaker, who was deputy Speaker during the impeachment of the former deputy governor Peremobowei, however in his recuperating mood said though the threats received by the members of the house of Assembly during the impeachment exercise were reported to the State Commissioner of Police and other relevant agencies in the state, saying we received lots of text messages on plans to terminate, damage and injure many of us, even as he added that the continued violence in the state is as a result of the recent impeachment of the former deputy governor Peremobowei Ebebi.

Just as the story of insecurity was dying down, the attack on King Johnny Tumer, a close confident of Mr. President, broke out. The report was that the attackers invaded private home at Opueme in Ogbia local government area while vital documents were removed and police guiding the house were dispossessed of the weapons.

But what would have caused such large scale of violence within a short space of time in the state. Some pundits have averred that because of crunch facing the state “free money” from government unlike before are no longer vailable. This, many people believed is because government official tight hand and “chop alone’ hence the violence to draw attention. One school of thought also point to the velvet glove treatment being given to ex-militant leaders who live like kings in the government House to the exclusion of so many of their followers now roaming about in the streets.

However, The On Sunday Tide gathered that most government functionaries no longer keep money in the banks hence they constructed reservoir in the homes. This new method of keeping their loots far from the prying eyes of EFCC, was leaked to the boys. In fact this was the reason for the Akasa raid. The raid paid up handsomely, hence the attack at Okpoama and Oupeme.

The Tide On Sunday further learnt that more top functionaries may face attacks on their country homes as most of the boys they used are disenchanted because of the peanuts they are getting.

On the killings in the streets of Yenagoa, it was discovered that far from what Police described as cult war. It is something more than that. A source told The Tide On Sunday that before  the  impeachment of the former deputy governor, some ‘bad’ boys were contracted to do some jobs with promise that each of them will get two million and a ticket to travel outside the country for safety. The masters that contracted them reneged on the promised and the boys threatened to talk, and the ploy to silent them led to what has been seen as cult war.

However, a retired army colonel from the state who chose to be anonymous was of a different opinion, he said there could be fifth columnists in Chief Sylva’s administration that are sponsoring all the atrocities in other to discredit the administration. The earlier the governor fishes out this columnist the better for him.

The ex-army intelligence officer said he has spotted about three different groups working at cross-purpose; they all belong to Mr Governor’s group. According to him each of this group are competing for recognition, hence carry out a lot of activities that the governor may not be aware but is telling on his administration.

However, no matter who is responsible for the insecurity in the state, a lot of social, economic and political harm has been done. In the first place the much talked about investors may be difficult to convince on the safety of their investment in a state that more in the news for the wrong developments.

It is on this note that many believed that Chief Sylva should hearken to the suggestion of those who advocate for a cabinet reshufflement.

Political pundits are of the opinion that if nothing is done to address the situation in the state, state of emergency would not be a far fetched scenario.

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Press Centre: Eye-sore Of Port Harcourt?

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Unless something is done fast, the structure will continue to send wrong signals about the attitude to the press in Port Harcourt and remain a drawback on general efforts to restore the garden city.

It is a sight that would have filled the late journalist and lawmaker, Ernest Ikoli with revulsion and perhaps drawn base reactions from him. And to think that the dilapidated centre was actually named to immortalise him.It is hard to imagine if his weather beaten statue that  reinforces the claim that the centre is named after him would not have walked away in disgust and leave curses in its trail, if it could just look back at the neglect accentuated after the rainstorm of April 6, 2010.

But alas, only visitors to this centre of Port Harcourt, where all the arms of government are in touching distance, look in shock and disbelief and sometimes voice out their consternation at the desolate state of the NUJ Secretariat/Press Centre. One visitor was overheard wondering how the skyline could be allowed to be so defaced by such a structure that should otherwise have been prided as a bastion of democracy  rightly positioned adjacent to the magistral Rivers State House of Assembly complex and by the imposing  Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC zonal secretariat. Or indeed, some metres away from the judiciary complex where magnificent structures seem to sprout. There is no gainsaying the grandeur of the Rivers State Government House. The axis boasts a skyline that only reminds or alarms any perfunctory observer about the neglect of the fourth Estate of the Realm, the torch bearer of democracy that we all benefit from. It would be seen that the government even with members that use to work in that secretariat and the elite of the state, especially the loud public analysts on radio have not only turned a blind eye to the centre that now looks like an old war relic.

Perhaps, it was what pushed the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Opaka Dokubo, to take his case to the popular “Nigerian pidgin language radio station Wazobia FM, to further drive his appeal for assistance.

However, Mr. Dokubo averred that the union had actually made a request to the governor, through the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Seminatari, a journalist and was still in the process of securing  the desired assistance. The state secretary of the union, Mr. Stanley Job told The Tide On Sunday that it was the wish of the body to have completely new structure that would complement the architectural  pieces in that axis, match the expectations of people on what a state press centre should look like and add glory to Rivers State, but for now it has decided to scale down its ambition. The long and short of the representation to the government is that there has been no word other than a non-definitive date in July to discuss the issue. It is short of expectations of a union with a sizeable number of their  members in government.

Though Mr. Dokubo admitted that there were professional colleagues in government, he said, members of the union in the state were aware and all had a responsibility to the development of the union and its infrastructure whether they have been formally solicited or not. The fact is that the union has since held meetings on the issue and only the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and former Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke had attended the meetings and made useful contributions. Mr. Dokubo disclosed that the only other entity that it visited so far, the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) had responded with reasonable donation that was still not enough. He explained that the body had decided to do a simple renovation but the estimates were beyond what the union, even with the RSSDA support, could deploy to meet the cost for now.

The thinking of some members has been that, though there may be no formal budgetary ties, as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the government could help. “We have travelled round the country and there is nowhere you can see this kind of thing as press centre”,  said one journalist. And that was even before the constant seeping of water from the de-roofed floor started leaving watermarks in the offices below and causing other damages.

In the views of the state council chairman, any government or entity that treasures democracy, good governance and the relevance of the fourth estate to its success had a responsibility to contribute to its growth. “Anywhere in the world, government should have a hand in building a vibrant press,” the chairman said.

He explained that what the state council needs to fix the roof is N3.2 million, even if their ambition is a structure  that will help raise funds and assist the union fulfill other obligations.

What the executive of the union seems to have is a healthy dose of optimism. However, unless, something is done fast, the structure will continue to send wrong signals about the attitude to the press in Port Harcourt and remain a drawback on general efforts to restore the garden city.

 

Noble Ikpamii

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