The Rivers State Government has said that it will construct some 400 kilometres of water reticulation pipelines, a significant number of public water kiosks and yard taps to deliver clean water to the huge population of residents of the state capital in the next two years.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who said this in Port Harcourt, at the official launch of the Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor water supply and sanitation project, added that the government aims to encourage access to safe drinking water for the vulnerable groups, while putting in place strategic measures targeted at addressing the poor sanitation challenges in the two local government areas.
The governor, who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Onimim Jack, said the project is key to the government’s plan to unlock the great potential of the state, and create thousands of temporary and permanent employment opportunities for unskilled and skilled youth of the state, thereby helping to reduce the burden of unemployment and alleviate poverty in the state.
He regretted that although the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have classified the initiative as a category one project, with studies showing its capacity to cause the displacement of some 200 persons, the state government has already put in place proactive measures to mitigate the negative impacts of the project on the people.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Chief Ibibia Walter, said that the essence of the project was to correct the poor and unacceptable habits of the past where most private residences, government institutions and commercial areas in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor practice sanitation devoid of international best practices.
Walter noted that there was significant incongruence in non-adherence to borehole and septic tank regulations, including general hygiene, while in some areas, pit latrines are used, just as open defecation is brazenly practiced, explaining that the project has in-built mechanisms to discourage open defecation, sub-standard sanitation and unhygienic activities in the state capital.
The Tide investigation show that the project has four main components, including water and sanitation infrastructure development through the rehabilitation and expansion of water supply system, building modern environmental protection infrastructure and sanitation facilities in public places, such as markets, motor parks and some waterfronts, as well as construction of pilot sewage project.
In addition, the government has also factored in projects to improve urban hygiene and downstream prevention of environmental degradation, including pollution of the groundwater resources, improve hygienic behavior among school pupils and residents, hygiene and sanitation promotion, and construction of hygienic toilets at household level, among others.
The Tide further learnt that a full Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) and Resettlement and Compensation Plan (RAP) have already been finalized, and the project’s negative impacts, including construction-related issues such as dust, noise, solid waste, traffic, access blocking and hazards to communities on pipeline right of way; possible damage to other utility lines, which may incur service interruptions, disruption of socio-economic activities as well as workers’ health and safety, carefully identified.
While acknowledging the huge benefits of the project, the government said that the positive impacts far outweigh the negatives, but stressed that mitigating measures have already been put in place to cushion the impact on the people.
The Tide gathered that the government’s strategy is to use the project to improve the health and safety imperatives of residents by ensuring that the unprotected sources of water and sanitation, which had hitherto caused more than 90 per cent of diseases, such as dysentery, typhoid, and cholera, are eliminated, to reduce the healthcare burden on government and residents of the state.
The government also plans to provide modern sanitation facilities in markets places, motor parks, and launch an aggressive hygiene and sanitation promotion campaign to further reduce the spread of water and sanitation-related diseases in the state capital.
Besides, it hopes to use the project to reduce the number of school drop-outs and absenteeism currently on the increase due to domestic activities and selling of water on the streets by children, thus minimizing the water stress, and encouraging children of school age to go to school.
The government, in addition, plans to use the project to ensure social inclusion for poor households and pragmatic delivery mechanisms that include significant number of yard taps and public kiosks to cater for low income residents.
The Tide investigation also revealed that the project has a complete conscious package to provide vocational training for water vendors by opening alternative employment opportunities for them, as their present source of income may be threatened as a result.
The project, the government said, will further enhance youth employment opportunities in the state through a fresh graduate attachment scheme to project-hired consultants and contractors, while providing thousands of temporary construction jobs for the teeming unemployed youth, thereby reducing the level of criminality and insecurity in the state.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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