Connect with us

Focus

John Bazia: Confessions Of A Debtor And Kleptomaniac

Published

on

Our attention has been drawn to the ranting of John Bazia, former Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs in Governor Nyesom Wike’s first tenure, published in some national Dailies.
In the said publications, Mr Bazia, who has started masquerading as a saint, was responding to the now confirmed accusation that he, Bazia, collected 80 percent of the “Kolanut” offered to traditional rulers during a Presidential campaign in 2015.
He tried so hard to convince Nigerians that he is not a thief and debtor. One of his points of defence was that Governor Wike appointed him Commissioner even when he knew he was appointing a thief as commissioner.
Well, the answer to that poser is succinctly captured in this famous quote by the writer and philosopher, C. JoyBell: “Don’t let a thief into your house three times. The first time was enough. The second time was a chance. The third time means you’re stupid.”
Simply put, John Bazia served as Member of the House of Assembly (the first time in the PDP House) and those who knew him at that time confirm that he had a frosty and hostile relationship with the then Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, which was one of the reasons, he, a two term legislator, did not return to the House and was disdainfully left in the political wilderness from 2007 – 2015, when his Speaker became Governor for two terms.
Governor Nyesom Wike rehabilitated John Bazia, gave him another chance in the PDP House in 2015, by appointing him as Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, even after his shameless and ignoble kleptocracy and ineptitude as head of the Presidential Campaign in his LGA.
His tenure as Commissioner was also largely uneventful, uninspiring and neither added any meaningful value to the Cabinet nor improved the fortunes of the PDP in any remarkable way.
So, when it was time to invite him a third time, Governor Wike wisely followed the advise of C. JoyBell and refused to reappoint Bazia as Commissioner in his cabinet. The reason for not reappointing him as Commissioner, was aptly and comprehensively explained by Governor Wike in an interview titled: “WIKE ON BAZIA: Who Would Reappoint Loafers As Commissioners?” published in the Vanguard Newspaper on December 22, 2020.
Governor Wike, in the interview spoke on the state of Rivers politics and described copiously and with verifiable instances, the characters and misdemeanours of the two former Commissioners; John Bazia of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs and his Transport counterpart, Ibinabo Michael West, who decamped from the PDP House to APC.
He said: “When we talk about defection, who and who defected? What are the qualities of those who defected? The two people who defected, who knew them in my cabinet? Have you ever seen them speak on behalf of the party one day? Have you heard them speak about my administration?
“There are people who defect and it will worry the government because these are internal members of the cabinet. Not everybody who is a Commissioner is a Commissioner. Chidi Lloyd defected to PDP, we knew who he was in APC. Who are these people who defected from the PDP?” Governor Wike asked rhetorically.
Indeed the thieving and debtor character of John Bazia was revealed and the records set straight by the very man he himself confessed of collecting a loan from, Mr. Lesi Maol, a Rivers Oil Magnate and Managing Director, Giolee Global Resources.
In an interview, published in the INSIDE NIGER DELTA Page of Sunday Vanguard, December 27, 2020, titled: “Euro Debt Controversy: HOW WIKE PAID LOAN TAKEN BY AMAECHI LOYALIST”, Mr. Maol simply took John Bazia to the cleaners, revealing how the former Commissioner and lawmaker, who was also his kinsman, begged him for a loan to settle a problem involving his son’s school abroad, and how after collecting the loan, he started playing a dubious game of delay tactics and even threatening him.
It was only when a counter threat to arrest the dubious former Commissioner with the Police eventually got to Governor Wike’s ears, that the Rivers Governor benevolently paid off the loan to avoid any further embarrassment to the State Government.
Indeed, the advise which Mr. Maol offered to John Bazia is priceless and actually explains perfectly, the kleptomaniac nature which may have prompted the stealing of “Kolanuts” meant for traditional rulers, by a former Commissioner and lawmaker. He advised Bazia thus: “People should cut their coat according to their cloth. Bring your children back from abroad and put them in a school here that you can afford. Do not borrow to feed family and pay school fees. Don’t borrow money for family use. You can borrow money for business,” the oil magnate cautioned the disgraced former commissioner.
It is also interesting and quite revealing that John Bazia, in the said publications confessed and pleaded guilty to all the accusations levelled against him. First, he confessed that the Traditional Rulers’ “Kolanut” was tampered with and after trying dubiously to put the blame on his driver and insisting that the money was eventually returned by the same driver, then went on to attempt to undermine the amount ‘stolen’ from the ‘Kolanut’ just like every serial thief would do.
It has been confirmed that the driver who has been a partner in crime was acting the script of his dubious master. He acted on specific instructions from him, to remove 80 percent of the ‘Kolanut’, no matter the value. How silly can one be?
John Bazia also confessed that he took a loan from Mr. Lesi Maol, even though he tried with his convoluted argument, like all typical debtors who do not intend to repay loans would do, to deny the amount collected. He instituted the diversionary court cases and litigation to attract public sympathy and cleverly get a reprieve, which he eventually did, when Governor Wike stepped in to offset his debt.
He equally confirmed that he did not pay back the loan after a very long time, which he attributed to a delay in payment of his salary as Commissioner, as though the repayment was tied to his appointment, and while admitting that it was actually Governor Wike who repayed the loan for him, went on like all ungrateful people, to insinuate that the involvement of the Governor may have been a set up by his political opponents to smear his name.
But then, he conveniently forgot too that he was a Commissioner and was also a debtor and that his imminent arrest by a citizen and businessman would have been a huge embarrassment to the State Government and Rivers people.
As for the flippant coinage of emptiness which Bazia alluded to Governor Wike’s administration, suffice it to note that the lies and deceit which surrounded most of those white elephant projects of the past he is celebrating, have already been exposed for the whole world to see.
One can only sympathise with the myopia and stagnated mindset of people like Bazia who deliberately refuse to acknowledge the amazing transformation going on in Rivers State, under the firm, astute, determined and unwavering leadership of Governor Wike.
We can only assure them that the marvellous infrastructural legacy projects, some of which have already been commissioned and the solid achievements and accomplishments in other sectors, which the Governor Wike administration is delivering across the length and breadth of Rivers State, will stand the test of time.
Referring to the obvious metamorphosis which has taken place in the PDP, since after the 2015 general elections, we need not remind the likes of Bazia, that this change was prompted by the actions of some persons who deliberately wanted to cripple and destroy the party to achieve their selfish interest in 2014.
It had to take the herculean courage, bravery and strategic political brilliance of Governor Wike to retain the identity of PDP, maintain the structure and sustain the existence and goodwill all of which have been the hallmarks of rebuilding the party in the last five years.
The fact that the likes of Bazia have found themselves on the periphery of a dynamic metamorphosis in the PDP and have gradually become irrelevant, redundant and valueless in the emerging structure, is clearly written for all to see and their decision to join a fractured, dismembered, confused and already crumbled political party, speaks volumes for their political calculations.
As far as the PDP is concerned, Bazia and his likes remain good riddance to bad rubbish.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.

Continue Reading

Focus

Re-Igniting Rivers Agricultural Stakes

Published

on

Let us agree on this: prima facie, in many parts of the world, Nigeria and Rivers State inclusive, agriculture has not been maximally harnessed. This is so because, what we have seen happen in the sector has not contributed to fulfilling the vital function of feeding the people sufficiently. It has also not provided basic commodities as required, or helped desirably, in the generation of stable income too.
But this is not what it should be, neither should it be allowed to be so. This is why productive hands should not remain idle and germane efforts merely wished away when deliberate and consistently implemented policies can coordinate robust agricultural activities, necessarily so, to ensure support for human survival and promote enduring well-being. Perhaps, this is what sane leaders do in any society that plans to grow and also feed its people.
administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State is in such ranking: forward-looking and mindful of those things to do, that can help real growth of all facets of the society, howbeit, agriculture. It has taken decisions on what must be done in order to increase attention for agriculture, and mobilising requisite resources that will support in refocusing the interest of majority of Rivers youths, and indeed, agro-actors, towards harnessing agriculture potentials in Rivers State.
Nigeria has, regrettably remained a consumption-dependent economy, and Rivers State is a part of this quagmire. The reason for this is clear: age-long, chronic and troubling lack of holistic attention to public policy implementation on a consistent basis to achieve sustained progress. But pulling off from such stance, the Governor Fubara-led administration is resolved to strengthen the comparative advantage of Rivers State in the agriculture value chain. It is a herculean task but not impossible because the potentials are glaring. So, there has been careful examination of what should be done, and how it should to be done to achieve an agricultural growth status that will make the State stand out.
To start, Governor Fubara has taken a critical look at the level of existing support previously offered by the State Government to promoting agriculture before he assumed office. Books may not lie, even when there could be disparities in what is recorded and what can be seen on ground. That, in itself, does offer a bearing. So, at least, what is clear is that such support was often driven by the quest to achieve economic development, promote key target interests, set out the prescriptions and requirements that would boost agricultural production.
With mind set on the mantra of “Consolidation and Continuity”, vital decisions are being taken, arising from those critical scrutinies, not necessarily to undermine what existed but to establish a path for continuity. With a policy direction that should stimulate commercial farming, and let it signpost the level of awareness that should be created in achieving food security in the State, there has been a determined posture secured without ineluctably falling to the trappings of incoherence and poor coordination most policy initiatives had suffered.
So, to have a holistic perspective for the required results that are expected, the decisions being taken took into cognizance: the need to identify support or collaborations where none existed, commence one, and gear up efforts in seeking requisite and workable collaborations to achieve success. In areas where such support did exist, but were incongruous, a review has been streamlined to give a new direction. Where there was abandonment of any process, a revitalization has been decided and production capacities of endeavours of agro-actors strengthened.
There is also a focus on small holder farmers because their concerns are in keen consideration of what the administration intends to do in the sector. These farmers belong to the brackets of small and medium enterprises that do need greater opportunities facilitated for their agribusinesses in other for them to access credit that would enable them expand their portfolio. More efforts are being harnessed with a search for an effective synergy within favourable environment to attract investors and financial institutions into funnelling credit to farming endeavours and the process of having an updated databank is being formalised. Regardless, the Rivers State Government has brokered partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI) in the disbursement of N4billion to small scale entrepreneurs in the State. This is an initiative that should impact on the sector, nonetheless, if the beneficiaries were true to tact.
But of note is the review embarked upon by the government concerning its agricultural investment in the Songhai Integrated Farms. This farm is located in Bunu community, Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State. The Songhai Integrated Farms sits on a vast expanse of land measuring 314 hectares. Where it sits was, in 1985 established as part of the School-to-Land Farms project. But it was repurposed in 2011 to become Songhai Integrated Farms.
It had distinct production sections that included livestock production, crop cultivation, fisheries, forestry, engineering services, agro-industrialization, and the training of aspiring farmers. The farm started off with an environmentally-sustainable agricultural production system that harnessed a holistic value-chain approach to ensure higher incomes for farmers and processors, as well as other agro-actors to guarantee social and economic prosperity.
It was set up to operate a self-driven zero waste farming model designed to protect the natural environment by mitigating the impacts of climate change. So, each production section was made up of different units, overseen by specialists who work in synergy. Within the production line, nothing became discard-able waste since the finished products/byproducts were sent from one production unit to another in a sequential manner to further transform them into other useful products for human use. It was a continuous circle, and consistently so to promote sustainable economy.
Those features had been carefully enumerated to have a proper understanding of the venture that was to make Rivers economy bigger and more progressive. But either by commission or omission, it became lame because it was driven into despicable condition, or rather, because it was abandoned. Every facility became decrepit as a result. For almost a decade, it remained so, and nothing was operational there. The hope that once soared, about all the potentials and contributions it was to make towards food security, and to provide gainful employment for the teeming Rivers youths, died, albeit, for the time it was in limbo.
Also, laid in waste were all the structures, those that were constructed with concrete, metallic, or wooden, and others that were installed, over the ground and underground. Most office equipment were stolen too, and carted away by vandals. The entire premises of the Songhai Integrated Farms became overgrown with short and tall grasses. And it was dangerously bushy too.
Those were the sorry sight that Governor Fubara beheld when he visited the farm on Saturday, October 7, 2023. The billions of naira in Rivers tax-payers’ money that was invested in the Songhai Integrated Farms project by the State Government went down the drains. So, the visit availed Governor Fubara the opportunity to do an on-the-spot assessment of the present condition of the farm, and ascertain what possible ways to bring it back to production stream again. On that visit, the Governor was conducted round the facility by the Manager of the Songhai Integrated Farms Project, Dr. Tammy Jaja. The revitalisation works to be done looked massive and very demanding but nothing is insoluble with political will, wisdom and courage.
In his explanation, Governor Fubara asserted the urgency that is required in restoring and repositioning the State for sustainable economic growth and development. With his visit, arising from the resolution reached when they last had the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, where they had considered the exigency of diversifying the nation’s economy and harped on the need to cushion current economic hardship experienced by the citizenry, he was determined to kickstart the version for the State. In his words, Governor Fubara said: “In our last National Economic Council meeting, because of the present situation of our economy, which you are aware; the issue of removal of fuel subsidy and other economic bites affecting everyone, everybody was advised to diversify. The other option is agriculture, and we were all advised to see what we can do to improve on food sufficiency.”
The Governor had assured that his Administration was determined to use the Songhai Integrated Farms as a launching pad to revolutionise agriculture in Rivers State. To achieve that, everything would be done to revamp the Songhai Farms. And when revitalized, the economy of the State could then be diversified, providing foundation for the people to be engaged meaningfully while also increasing the food sufficiency capacity of the State.
Governor Fubara assured: “As I leave here now, we are going to bring in all the stakeholders to discuss the way forward. What I am seeing here will require long-term planning and going back to the site to reinstate the installed facilities that have become desolate. The State Government will not just do that, we will bring in people who have the resources, expertise, strength and commitment to partner with us to bring back this place to life. The advantages to be derived when this place comes back to life include food sufficiency and employment generation. It will also address issues of youth restiveness.”
That process has begun. The people who had been identified to have the strength and commitment to partner the State Government were already in touch, and brought to the negotiation table. The talking has been extensive and intensive. The best among them with more enduring approach and sustainable model are at the verge of being engaged. Songhai Integrated Farms must be revitalized. That is the commitment and it remains unwavering.
While the discussions were ongoing, the farm has been repossessed by the Government. It would no longer be accessed freely as thorough fare to members of the public as it was in the days of abandonment. Gradually, the clearing of the short and tall grasses and trees are ongoing, and would be concluded, eventually. What shall be done with that project would be devoid of a lack of clarity and the adopted plan, nothing of abrupt disruption is anticipated. For this farm, the level of independence with which it would operate would be such that it could remain dogged, contest its place within the sector and drive food sufficiency process at a pace more sustaining and enviable for the State.
Another investment that is of critical concern to the Government is the 45,000-metric tonnes Rivers Cassava Processing Company, which is located in Afam Community, Oyigbo Local Government Area. This is a multi-billion-naira investment that was engineered as a public-private partnership (PPP) venture between the Rivers State Government, Shell, Vieux Manioc BV of the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Embassy. Understandably, the motivation for establishing this processing factory was to address the challenges of value addition of the cassava crop in the value chain sub-sector. So, the factory was inaugurated on May 28, 2021, as a company that will support the economy of Rivers State to earn more revenue from the cassava value chain. The company then had a board of directors in place, which helped in the preliminary stages of preparations leading to its inauguration. But barely within the first two months of start of production, the subsisting administration then dissolved the board, which left the company without adequate supervision to help it actualize its core mandate.
Things remained so until March 7, 2024, when Governor Fubara visited the factory. The visit, the Governor explained, was propelled by the desire to see the level of effectiveness and efficiency of the existing production line. He explained that the team managing the factory, led by the Managing Director of the Rivers Cassava Processing Plant, Ruben Giesen, had requested financial support, in a letter sent to him. This, the team said, would enable them complete two more production lines at the factory to increase capacity utilisation in order to churn out more products.
Governor Fubara said: “I got a request from the people who are managing the cassava processing plant that we need to extend our support for them to complete two production lines that will give them a standard that they can start to supply in earnest to a lot of distributors who need the products from this plant. And I felt it would be proper for me to see what we have already invested, the stage they are at, so that it will encourage us to give more support.”
Governor Fubara further said: “From what I have seen here today, it is really impressive. I can assure them that we are going to give the financial support to ensure that the production lines are all completed. This is to encourage them to go into full supply of the products with international standards to anywhere in the world.”
The promise given by Governor Fubara to inject more funds is with the aim of revitalising this mega cassava processing factory in order to ensure that the finished products meet internationally accepted standards. Of course, these are well intended responses, and the drive is to ensure an increase in quantum of food production capability and attain the level of sufficiency while also creating gainful employment for the growing youthful population of the State.
It is obvious that the Governor Fubara-led administration clearly understands that Nigeria is the largest cassava producer at the global level. It is on record, that Nigeria accounts for about one-fifth (20%) of total cassava production worldwide. Indeed, Rivers ranked among the Top Five Cassava Producing States in Nigeria. It is, therefore, of necessity and thoughtful of a Government that cares for its farmers, to keep keen interest on this factory, and ensure that it is supported to enhance value addition, and guarantee employment for the people.
In fact, Governor Fubara knows that this factory would also promote adoption and the use of 10 per cent high quality cassava flour (HQCF) in bread and confectionery businesses, so as to reduce wheat importation and conserve foreign exchange earnings to meet other needs. Indeed, cassava is one of the defining ingredients of our family lives in this region, and it is a valued crop in Niger Delta and in other parts of Nigeria. So, this factory, with the promised support from the Governor Fubara-led administration, will attain full operational status. This will further be propelled by feedstock from about 3,000 farmers within the farming communities and other far away farmers in neighbouring communities.
What the people need to understand is that, as long as this factory’s capacity is not fully strengthened, it will be difficult for it to receive uninterrupted supply of raw materials from the thousands of hectares that could be cultivated to service it. By extension, this means massive waste of hundreds of jobs its prospect assures, particularly the over 20,000 farm families that will earn income to enhance their livelihoods and improve their standard of living.
Even as the threat to food security continues to alarm watchers in Nigeria with food inflation rate rising from 33.93% in December, 2023 to 35.41% in January, 2024, and not yet abating, these efforts of the Rivers State Government are to ensure that people do not spend more money before they can afford enough food for themselves and their families. Instructively, if there is no change in focus and the required actions are taken, guided by well-thought-out policy and implemented with the right political will, the threat to acute food security will be reversed.
It is possible that at the end of the day, these measures geared towards building sustainable food systems will feed everyone, everywhere, and every day. The cry of hunger is loud and palpably so. And Governor Fubara understands that only a focused attention on finding enduring solutions through strategic investments in boosting agricultural yields and increasing its value chain would address the needs of the people. This is why the Government sees the initiatives as a task that must be done. The Governor’s eyes will remain on the ball, until desired results are achieved with maximum impact. That is a promise he made to the people, a SIMple promise he has vowed to fulfil without fear of intimidation or favour.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

Continue Reading

Focus

Dissecting Benefits, Opportunities, Challenges Of PH Ring Road

Published

on

This is the concluding part of this article first published on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

It is a huge signature infrastructure development initiative, driven by the Fubara-led administration, to stimulate and contribute to economic growth of the State in general, and to the impacted communities in particular. The assurances it brings, in part, are these: to enable a sustained social integration, which is a given, facilitating the acceptance process that would ease interaction among the people across the LGAs for social support, friendship, and foster intimacy. This single but far stretching road will also create a transportation connectivity that will ultimately ease mobility. This will enable people to have the ability to travel to work or business places, if such place of employment or business was in distant communities across the six LGAs that the road connects. In fact, the road promises to make the categorisation of Rivers State in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking very easy.
This is not a project stuck in the city. It is a major transportation artery that all motorists, and indeed, road users are gearing up to enjoy the reduced travel time benefit it will offer. Access to essential services like healthcare and education, including leisure will be made easier from the catchment communities into the city and in reverse. When there is good connectivity through roads, people more likely travel farther and explore new opportunities. This definitely leads to a better quality of life, and life expectancy.
Since the day of flag-off and with actual construction work commenced, the progress achieved has been heart-warming. The start point of the road is at the UTC Junction axis, off the AbonnemaWhaff Road. A transformational construction work is ongoing, meaning a redefinition of the entire landscape, including adjourning Abonnema Wharf area. From there, the road runs along and branches off into Njamanze Street, and with a quadrant curve, it turns to connect Rumuji and Sabagiriya streets. From there, it links Illoabuchi Street, and onward to Opobo Street. All of these are in Mile One and Two Diobu axis in Port Harcourt. It drives on to Eagle Island, then turns rightwards towards the back fence of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), from where the river-crossing bridge of 350 meters takes off, rising, crossing over the creek and descending to link Mgbuodohia community.
Again, the road runs from Mgbuodohia unto Aker Road. At St. John’s Catholic Church axis of the IAUE/Rumuepirikom Road, the first flyover is mounted. The second flyover is at the Ozuoba Junction axis of NTA/Mgbuoba/Choba road. The third flyover begins from the Rumuosi axis of the East-West Road and descends unto Rumuekeni community. The fourth flyover is at Rukpokwu and crosses over Port Harcourt Airport-Owerre Road unto Eneka, with a roundabout and trumpet arms on the Rumuokurusi-Igwuruta Road. The fifth flyover is elliptical in nature and rises from the Igbo-Etche community axis over the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway unto Iriebe Community at Elelenwo. The sixth flyover is at Alesa-Eleme, and runs across the East-West Road unto Abam-Ama in Okrika.
Specifically, the ring road criss-crosses many communities in six LGAs, including Port Harcourt City, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Etche, Eleme and Okrika. Rivers State has 23 LGAs, and the road traverses six of 23 LGAs, representing approximately 24.38percent. In terms of population projection, Rivers State had 7,476,800 people as at 2022, occupying 9,669km² area, with 773.3/km² density, and has annual population change of 2.3% from 2006 to 2022. This also means that in terms of population growth, these six LGAs have seen significant rise in population, rising from 1,852,256 recorded in 2006 census to a projected 2,664,000 in 2022, out of a total state-wide population of 5,198,716 in 2006, and 7,476,800 in 2022. A further look shows that Port Harcourt City had 774,600 population in 2022 against 538,558 in 2006; Obio/Akpor had 665,000 in 2022 against 462,350 in 2006; and Eleme had 273,500 in 2022 against 190,194 in 2006. Also, Etche had a population of 249,939 in 2006 against 359,500 in 2022; Okrika had 222,285 in 2006 against 319,700 in 2022; and Ikwerre had 188,930 in 2006 against 271,700 in 2022. Even as conservative as these population figures show, the numbers exhibit signs of explosion in concentration owing to inflow of economic activities and concerns, thereby justifying the urgency for a good network of roads linking all six LGAs to facilitate interactions between their peoples, investments therein as well as goods and services.
Therefore, the ring road serves as to connect other roads, creating a perfect linkage between communities that will surely advance rural connectivity while offering multiplier gains that could reflect in growth in local employment, livelihood enhancements and other enablers of sustainable development. When such local employment opportunities are identified and accessible, a much-needed safety net would have been created to reduce financial distress that weigh so heavily on the people.
Of course, adequate compensation has also been paid to owners of property on the right of way and affected by the construction. Estate valuers had done proper evaluation and assessment of each property so affected. Payment is still ongoing, but is being done after all the certifications have been verified. No one is short-changed, and it is only when payment has been done that affected property are pulled down and the site cleared.
Expectedly, those negatively affected by the construction work are wont to complain, particularly of low value of compensation payment. It is human to so do. But the truth is: No amount of compensation by government can offset the cost of building new structures either for residential, industrial or corporate business purposes. That is one of the sacrifices people make for new infrastructure development projects to take place, especially in populated areas. Another inconvenience is traffic diversion and disruptions, occasioning stress and manhours lost in travel time, especially when it comes to road construction projects. Again, such pains and sufferings are natural in heavily populated areas, and remain the price we pay for development to take place.
In Rivers State, the people have made similar sacrifices in the past for government development projects to come on stream. Whether it is under the military junta from 1967 to 1979, 1984 to 1991, or 1993 to 1999; or under the civilian administrations from 1979 to 1983, 1992 to 1993, or 1999 to date; history is replete with moments of human sufferings triggered by the execution of road infrastructure development projects, including flyovers, interchanges and bridges. In recent memory, the Dr Peter Odili, Chibuike Amaechi and Nyesom Wike governments are characterised by many such undertaking resulting in demolition of structures along project rights of way and or diversion of traffic thereof. Residents, landlords, business owners and motorists impacted by the Ikwerre Road expansion from Education Bus Stop in Port Harcourt City to Airport Junction in Ikwerre LGA by former Governor Peter Odili can remember vividly what they went through. Or is it the impacts of the dualization of Peter Odili Road, Rumuobiakani-Oginigba-Slaughter Road, Artillery-Rumuomasi Old Aba Road, Woji-Okporo-Rumuodara Road, Rumuomasi-Elekahia-Waja Junction Road, Nkpogu-Amadi-Ama/Nkpogu-NLNG Roads, Rumuokurusi-Elimgbu-Eneka-Igwuruta Road, Rumuola Road, Rumuokwuta-Mgbuoba-Ozuoba-Choba Road, Eliozu flyover, AGIP Junction flyover, and Eleme Junction Interchange, among others by the Chibuike Amaechi administration? Or the sufferings that the construction of Oro-Abali, Rebisi, Rumuogba, Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rumuokwuta, Rumuepirikom, GRA Junction, Oroworukwo, and Rumuola flyovers, among others, unleashed on the people during the Nyesom Wike years? All are signposts of the impact, whether negative or positive, that the execution of infrastructure development projects in populated areas bring.
Now, to the specifics of the ongoing construction work: The project sites have been cleared, piers, including the vertical support structures of the flyover bridges have been cast and mounted. At some sections that have been so cleared, top soils have been removed to allow for unbound mixture of coarse, fine crushed stones, together with crushed sand have been laid in most areas. These will enable the road to achieve the desired load-bearing capacity and prevent the underlying subgrade from being deformed while absorbing traffic loads. And across many sections of the road, massive construction activities are ongoing at high intensity. Of course, the ring road comes with walkways, and street lighting too.
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, visited two sections of the construction site and was conducted round by the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Lars Richter. The Governor took a ride on a section of the stretch of the road, pulling off from the Obiri-Ikwerre-Airport Road axis, through the Jesuit Memorial School in Elikpokwuodu Community unto Rukpokwu on the Port Harcourt Airport-Owerre Road intersection. From there, he moved on through Rumuodomaya – Rumuokoro to Rumuosi and Ozuoba communities before terminating the inspection tour at the UTC Junction.
At the end of the inspection tour, the Governor expressed satisfaction with the progress of work achieved thus far. He said: “I think that we are good, considering the understanding that we had with Julius Berger Nigeria PLC. We signed off that in 36 months, this project will be done and delivered. And with what I have seen, they are meeting up that target. I think that we have a few issues: the price rate of things at that time we signed the contract and what subsists presently is not the same due to high inflation and the exchange rate spike.
“But whatever it is, I have assured the contractor that we are going to provide the necessary support to make sure that we deliver. You know this project is very important to us. It is one of the first things that I signed off when I came in as the Governor of this State. It is a signature project for me, whichever way anybody wants to look at it. We signed on for it. We are paying dearly for it, and it is one of the objectives of this administration to make sure that we deliver it to our people”, he noted.
In his remarks, Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Lars Richter, gave explanation of the milestone achieved by the company. He said: “I think we went along various alignments of the road. We could see several spots where we are working: Is it on the U-channels? Is it on the road construction? Or even on the two flyovers? Over the East-West Road, we had started with laying of the first beams on one of the flyovers. On the other flyover, we will soon finish drilling; we are using two drilling rigs to complete the piling. We are moving to the second flyover already.
“So, you can see, the first flyover we started on January 15, 2024. Two months later, we are already laying the beams. So, we are on track. We are on schedule as we promised His Excellency. I am really satisfied with the work, with my team. Of course, I am satisfied with His Excellency for his support. I am excited that we had the opportunity today to inspect the road together, and to discuss also the challenges; for example, compensation and relocation. He has assured me that everything will be done as soon as possible so that we can also meet our timeline. I am really happy and satisfied with the work here”, he said.
Indeed, his assurance is testament that Governor Fubara means well for Rivers State, and that his administration is working tirelessly to deliver quality good governance to the people. This road, among others, is a genuine proof of that commitment! Increasingly, Rivers people will not be burdened with limited access to road infrastructure that they had suffered when this road is finally delivered. This is particularly as it relates to urban-rural connectivity because such limited access to road had inhibited easier mobility of people, and undoubtedly delayed their access to the benefits of development. So, the disproportionate disadvantages that people likely suffer will be over soon. I dare say that the Port Harcourt Ring Road will improve rural infrastructure. Governor Fubara makes me see it so because he knows it as much as that, which is why he has designed it in a manner that it is seen as a crucial pathway to alleviating poverty.
Also, to be noted is that this road adds to the long-sought after solution to resolving the traffic congestions experienced in parts of Diobu axis of Port Harcourt, particularly on Ikwerre Road. Such traffic jams, over and again, had caused unnecessary pollution, and arguably, raises environmental concerns, and other levels of disruption on economic development.
A well-constructed road, as we are seeing of the ring road, assures that travel time will be reduced for motorists, and indeed, all road users getting out of the city centre. Another is the fact that there will be increase in the speed limits that motorists will apply, while also providing smoother driving experience. There will be overall transportation efficiency within the benefitting communities. What else can be a good respite for motorists other than knowing that the derivable benefits extend to enjoying reduced fuel consumption rate, lower vehicle maintenance costs, and increased productivity level for businesses.
The truism about this is remarkable: When a city is beautiful in outlay, it is 80percent a reflection of the good roads that have been provided, well developed and maintained. Without a doubt, the city of Port Harcourt is growing and expanding. So should the road infrastructure, essentially so that it does not only accommodate the increasing population density and the associated urbanization but diffuse same to border communities in none urban LGAs so as to decongest the metropolis. By all means, Governor Fubara is using this road to contribute to the socio-economic and cultural development of rural communities in particular and the state in general.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

 

 

Continue Reading

Focus

Dissecting Benefits, Opportunities, Challenges Of PH Ring Road

Published

on

It is massive. It is gigantic.
It is expensive. It is first of its kind. It is a legacy signature impression. It is the single largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by any sub-national government in Nigeria. It is the Port Harcourt Ring Road!
The Port Harcourt Ring Road project is a clear evidence of Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara’s resilience, foresight and exhibition of political will to take tough decisions. The project shows a convincing strength of courage. Moving what was once a concept on the drawing board for decades into the sphere of reality, does not depict weakness but strong commitment and determination to dare, and do extraordinary things.
Lest we forget, this ring road project for Port Harcourt was first contemplated decades ago. The initial proposals were made in the 1970s during the military era. When the administration of Chief Rufus Ada-George superintended the State between January 1992 and November 1993, the idea was birthed again. At the time, Port Harcourt City was not as expansive as it is now, and some of the areas were forested and uninhabited.
With the Ada-George’s concept, the ring road was to run from then Slaughter at Oginigba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area through Okujagu to Abuloma, Amadi-Ama, and connect Eastern Bypass to Amadi Flats, Old GRA to Aba Road by Abali Park, all in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area. He also thought of linking Borokiri to Okrika by road and bridges. Another section was to begin from Njemanze, connect Nanka to Illoabuchi, link Eagle Island also in Port Harcourt City to Rumueme. But that link was not finalised. However, he okayed the Rumueme-Rumuepirikom-Mgbuoba link road connecting Ozuoba through the popular Rumuokwuta-Ozuoba-Choba Road. It was to via off at Ozuoba to East-West Road in Obio/Akpor. It also was to connect Port Harcourt-Owerri Road by Airport Junction in Ikwerre Local Government. Here again, the administration could not take the project off the drawing board.
The administration of Dr Peter Odili, between 1999 and 2007, understood the importance of the ring road to the economic rejuvenation, and revived the project to attract investments to the State. It actually executed the first stretch of the road from Slaughter through Okujagu to Abuloma, and then, linked Amadi-Ama to Eastern Bypass and Amadi Flats. It completed that section of the road on a single lane ticket. It further connected Mgbuoba to East-West Road by now Obiri-Ikwerre. The project was not 100 percent completed.
During the Chibuike Amaechi’s eight years in the saddle between 2007 and 2015, the administration dualised the Peter Odili Road, reckoning with its potential benefits in opening up the city of Port Harcourt to accelerated development. It also embarked on the construction of the Ada-George Road, and dualised it, linking it to Rumuokwuta-Mgbuoba-Ozuoba-Choba road. He completed it. He also completed the Mgbuoba-East-West link road by Obiri-Ikwerre. Amaechi constructed an interchange on East-West Road by Obiri-Ikwerre, and began the dualisation of Obiri-Ikwerre-Airport Road, which he named after Prof Tam David-West. He did not complete the road before the expiration of his tenure.
In addition to that, Amaechi initiated the extension of the ring road by connecting Prof Tam David-West Road in Greater Port Harcourt City Area through Igwuruta, with a flyover across Port Harcourt-Owerre Road by Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) office in Ikwerre Local Government Area. That new design was to take the road from Ikwerre Local Government through Eneka in Obio/Akpor, to Etche Local Government; again, connecting Iriebe in Obio/Akpor, across Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, and link Agbonchia, Ebubu, Ogale to Onne in Eleme Local Government Area. The project was also commenced but abandoned by the administration.
On arrival in office in 2015 as Governor, Nyesom Wike took up Obiri-Ikwerre-Airport Road, and completed it. He did that because he bought into the idea tapping into the obvious benefits of the ring road to the sustainable development of the State. The current ring road project was first suggested in 2019, but gained approval from the Rivers State Executive Council in 2020. Wike reasoned that redesigning the route will better serve the overall interest of the State. He contracted Julius Berger Nigeria Plc to do the design. What the contractor put out was inconclusive before Wike left office on May 29, 2023. Little wonder he did not factor the project into the 2023 budget.
But the paradigm shift in concept made the new project unique in many ways. The route traverses six local government areas – Port Harcourt City, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Etche, Eleme and Okrika – and connects Port Harcourt in a circular form. It covers 50.15km dual carriageway, with varied widths of between 7.6m and 29.2m where there are service lanes. It also has six flyovers, and one major river crossing bridge. In addition, it has not less than 19 roundabouts. But despite the importance attached to it by Wike, he did not make any budgetary allocation to the project in the 2023 Appropriation Act.
Indeed, it took the administration of Sir Siminalayi Fubara to take the project off the drawing board, and ensure that the N195billion project was actually flagged-off on Monday, July 17, 2023. How did it happen? Governor Fubara awarded the contract for the project to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc in July, 2023, barely 50 days into the new administration, with a target completion date of 36 months, which draws into 2025.
The Governor did that because he understood the importance of the project. For this reason, he sent a supplementary budget of N200billion to the Rivers State House of Assembly because funding of the project was not provided for in the budget he inherited. On the day he assented to the supplementary budget in Government House, Governor Fubara stated: “Let me on behalf of the Executive arm of government commend you for your prompt response to the supplementary budget. We are a product of Consolidation and Continuity. We will implement every good idea by the previous administration geared towards improving the lives of Rivers people.”
On the day of flag-off of the project at UTC Junction in Port Harcourt, Governor Fubara said, “When all these places are opened up, people, including real estate investors, will start moving in, and businesses will open up the areas because people have started acquiring land there”. He also said that the road will not only facilitate travels, decongest traffic in the city centre, but will further boost interactions, social and cultural exchanges between communities and populations in the various LGAs along the 50.15km route.
Honestly, successive governments from 1970s to 2023, had seen the importance and overarching benefits of the ring road to the socio-economic growth and development of the State. This is why any discerning minds would reckon with the serious attention past governors and administrators placed on bringing to fruition the life of the Port Harcourt Ring Road as a key to fast tracking the overall development of the State. Therefore, dismissing the project as “not of any significant economic benefit to the State”, shows how short-sighted purveyors of this negative narrative definitely are. Even more laughable is the assumption that “the project is not fundamentally different from the 12 flyovers built by the immediate past administration of Nyesom Wike”.
Let’s take a tour of the benefits a little bit. The project signals a pivotal milestone for Rivers State. It has the potential to enhance the quality of life for residents and stimulate substantial economic growth in the region. It stands as a valuable asset for the State, facilitating smoother transportation and communication between its various LGAs. By addressing traffic congestion, enhancing transportation linkages, generating employment opportunities, and stimulating economic growth, this signature infrastructure project will undoubtedly leave a lasting positive impact on the State for generations to come.
The road will decongest traffic in Port Harcourt, providing an effective bypass route for inner city traffic, alleviating congestion and significantly improving traffic flow within the city. No doubt, this will reduce travel times and improve air quality, making the city more livable for residents.
It will improve transportation link between different parts of the state, by facilitating seamless logistics connectivity for different areas, promoting greater mobility for both people and goods. It will also boost economic activities, make investment decisions easy, and help reduce poverty in the land. Another plank of its benefits is the fact that the road will create a substantial number of direct and indirect employment opportunities, stimulate economic growth and uplift thousands of livelihoods. The local communities will boom and unemployment will reduce. The economic benefits include the fact that it is a major investment that gives hope to thousands of people; just as it will open up new areas for development and influx of new businesses, increasing ease of doing business and accelerating investors’ confidence in the state.
Now, let’s dig a little bit into the details of the project. The ring road, understandably, is an essential component required to achieve sustained socio-economic development. In fact, roads make movements easier, of a person, goods or services, from one point to another. This road will be doing just more than that because it is not just a path secluded within the city, it is of a diverse nature, conveying traffic more out of the city centre, to six LGAs on a seamless drive. To be able to navigate one’s way easily in and out of the metropolis on such road cannot be dismissed as a waste of scarce resources. Obviously not! On the contrary, the decision-making process for the project must have been guided by sound wisdom, political will and foresight.
This road, like well-planned routes, make urban areas rampantly inhabited, which is why they flourish. The ring road, sprouting out from the city centre, offers any travellers a chance to criss-cross several communities on one smooth drive while not pulling off; and can return to the city in a circular drive. It is a far stretching, wide enough road. With a length that is 50.15km, out of which 45km is dual carriageway, the road has six distinct flyovers, measuring 4.8km, and one river-crossing bridge of 350m. There are four lanes on each side. Altogether, there are 19 roundabouts and rotary intersections.

 

 

It is a huge signature infrastructure development initiative, driven by the Fubara-led administration, to stimulate and contribute to economic growth of the State in general, and to the impacted communities in particular. The assurances it brings, in part, are these: to enable a sustained social integration, which is a given, facilitating the acceptance process that would ease interaction among the people across the LGAs for social support, friendship, and foster intimacy. This single but far stretching road will also create a transportation connectivity that will ultimately ease mobility. This will enable people to have the ability to travel to work or business places, if such place of employment or business was in distant communities across the six LGAs that the road connects. In fact, the road promises to make the categorisation of Rivers State in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking very easy.
This is not a project stuck in the city. It is a major transportation artery that all motorists, and indeed, road users are gearing up to enjoy the reduced travel time benefit it will offer. Access to essential services like

healthcare and education, including leisure will be made easier from the catchment communities into the city and in reverse. When there is good connectivity through roads, people more likely travel farther and explore new opportunities. This definitely leads to a better quality of life, and life expectancy.
Since the day of flag-off and with actual construction work commenced, the progress achieved has been heart-warming. The start point of the road is at the UTC Junction axis, off the Abonnema Whaff Road. A transformational construction work is ongoing, meaning a redefinition of the entire landscape, including adjourning Abonnema Wharf area. From there, the road runs along and branches off into Njamanze Street, and with a quadrant curve, it turns to connect Rumuji and Sabagiriya streets. From there, it links Illoabuchi Street, and onward to Opobo Street. All of these are in Mile One and Two Diobu axis in Port Harcourt. It drives on to Eagle Island, then turns rightwards towards the back fence of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), from where the river-crossing bridge of 350 meters takes off, rising, crossing over the creek and descending to link Mgbuodohia community.
Again, the road runs from Mgbuodohia unto Aker Road. At St. John’s Catholic Church axis of the IAUE/Rumuepirikom Road, the first flyover is mounted. The second flyover is at the Ozuoba Junction axis of NTA/Mgbuoba/Choba road. The third flyover begins from the Rumuosi axis of the East-West Road and descends unto Rumuekeni community. The fourth flyover is at Rukpokwu and crosses over Port Harcourt Airport-Owerre Road unto Eneka, with a roundabout and trumpet arms on the Rumuokurusi-Igwuruta Road. The fifth flyover is elliptical in nature and rises from the Igbo-Etche community axis over the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway unto Iriebe Community at Elelenwo. The sixth flyover is at Alesa-Eleme, and runs across the East-West Road unto Abam-Ama in Okrika.
Specifically, the ring road criss-crosses many communities in six LGAs, including Port Harcourt City, Obio/Akpor, Ikwerre, Etche, Eleme and Okrika. Rivers State has 23 LGAs, and the road traverses six of 23 LGAs, representing approximately 24.38percent. In terms of population projection, Rivers State had 7,476,800 people as at 2022, occupying 9,669km² area, with 773.3/km² density, and has annual population change of 2.3% from 2006 to 2022. This also means that in terms of population growth, these six LGAs have seen significant rise in population, rising from 1,852,256 recorded in 2006 census to a projected 2,664,000 in 2022, out of a total state-wide population of 5,198,716 in 2006, and 7,476,800 in 2022. A further look shows that Port Harcourt City had 774,600 population in 2022 against 538,558 in 2006; Obio/Akpor had 665,000 in 2022 against 462,350 in 2006; and Eleme had 273,500 in 2022 against 190,194 in 2006. Also, Etche had a population of 249,939 in 2006 against 359,500 in 2022; Okrika had 222,285 in 2006 against 319,700 in 2022; and Ikwerre had 188,930 in 2006 against 271,700 in 2022. Even as conservative as these population figures show, the numbers exhibit signs of explosion in concentration owing to inflow of economic activities and concerns, thereby justifying the urgency for a good network of roads linking all six LGAs to facilitate interactions between their peoples, investments therein as well as goods and services.
Therefore, the ring road serves as to connect other roads, creating a perfect linkage between communities that will surely advance rural connectivity while offering multiplier gains that could reflect in growth in local employment, livelihood enhancements and other enablers of sustainable development. When such local employment opportunities are identified and accessible, a much-needed safety net would have been created to reduce financial distress that weigh so heavily on the people.
Of course, adequate compensation has also been paid to owners of property on the right of way and affected by the construction. Estate valuers had done proper evaluation and assessment of each property so affected. Payment is still ongoing, but is being done after all the certifications have been verified. No one is short-changed, and it is only when payment has been done that affected property are pulled down and the site cleared.
Expectedly, those negatively affected by the construction work are wont to complain, particularly of low value of compensation payment. It is human to so do. But the truth is: No amount of compensation by government can offset the cost of building new structures either for residential, industrial or corporate business purposes. That is one of the sacrifices people make for new infrastructure development projects to take place, especially in populated areas. Another inconvenience is traffic diversion and disruptions, occasioning stress and manhours lost in travel time, especially when it comes to road construction projects. Again, such pains and sufferings are natural in heavily populated areas, and remain the price we pay for development to take place.
In Rivers State, the people have made similar sacrifices in the past for government development projects to come on stream. Whether it is under the military junta from 1967 to 1979, 1984 to 1991, or 1993 to 1999; or under the civilian administrations from 1979 to 1983, 1992 to 1993, or 1999 to date; history is replete with moments of human sufferings triggered by the execution of road infrastructure development projects, including flyovers, interchanges and bridges. In recent memory, the Dr Peter Odili, Chibuike Amaechi and Nyesom Wike governments are characterised by many such undertaking resulting in demolition of structures along project rights of way and or diversion of traffic thereof. Residents, landlords, business owners and motorists impacted by the Ikwerre Road expansion from Education Bus Stop in Port Harcourt City to Airport Junction in Ikwerre LGA by former Governor Peter Odili can remember vividly what they went through. Or is it the impacts of the dualization of Peter Odili Road, Rumuobiakani-Oginigba-Slaughter Road, Artillery-Rumuomasi Old Aba Road, Woji-Okporo-Rumuodara Road, Rumuomasi-Elekahia-Waja Junction Road, Nkpogu-Amadi-Ama/Nkpogu-NLNG Roads, Rumuokurusi-Elimgbu-Eneka-Igwuruta Road, Rumuola Road, Rumuokwuta-Mgbuoba-Ozuoba-Choba Road, Eliozu flyover, AGIP Junction flyover, and Eleme Junction Interchange, among others by the Chibuike Amaechi administration? Or the sufferings that the construction of Oro-Abali, Rebisi, Rumuogba, Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rumuokwuta, Rumuepirikom, GRA Junction, Oroworukwo, and Rumuola flyovers, among others, unleashed on the people during the Nyesom Wike years? All are signposts of the impact, whether negative or positive, that the execution of infrastructure development projects in populated areas bring.
Now, to the specifics of the ongoing construction work: The project sites have been cleared, piers, including the vertical support structures of the flyover bridges have been cast and mounted. At some sections that have been so cleared, top soils have been removed to allow for unbound mixture of coarse, fine crushed stones, together with crushed sand have been laid in most areas. These will enable the road to achieve the desired load-bearing capacity and prevent the underlying subgrade from being deformed while absorbing traffic loads. And across many sections of the road, massive construction activities are ongoing at high intensity. Of course, the ring road comes with walkways, and street lighting too.
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, visited two sections of the construction site and was conducted round by the Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Lars Richter. The Governor took a ride on a section of the stretch of the road, pulling off from the Obiri-Ikwerre-Airport Road axis, through the Jesuit Memorial School in Elikpokwuodu Community unto Rukpokwu on the Port Harcourt Airport-Owerre Road intersection. From there, he moved on through Rumuodomaya – Rumuokoro to Rumuosi and Ozuoba communities before terminating the inspection tour at the UTC Junction.
At the end of the inspection tour, the Governor expressed satisfaction with the progress of work achieved thus far. He said: “I think that we are good, considering the understanding that we had with Julius Berger Nigeria PLC. We signed off that in 36 months, this project will be done and delivered. And with what I have seen, they are meeting up that target. I think that we have a few issues: the price rate of things at that time we signed the contract and what subsists presently is not the same due to high inflation and the exchange rate spike.
“But whatever it is, I have assured the contractor that we are going to provide the necessary support to make sure that we deliver. You know this project is very important to us. It is one of the first things that I signed off when I came in as the Governor of this State. It is a signature project for me, whichever way anybody wants to look at it. We signed on for it. We are paying dearly for it, and it is one of the objectives of this administration to make sure that we deliver it to our people”, he noted.
In his remarks, Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr. Lars Richter, gave explanation of the milestone achieved by the company. He said: “I think we went along various alignments of the road. We could see several spots where we are working: Is it on the U-channels? Is it on the road construction? Or even on the two flyovers? Over the East-West Road, we had started with laying of the first beams on one of the flyovers. On the other flyover, we will soon finish drilling; we are using two drilling rigs to complete the piling. We are moving to the second flyover already.
“So, you can see, the first flyover we started on January 15, 2024. Two months later, we are already laying the beams. So, we are on track. We are on schedule as we promised His Excellency. I am really satisfied with the work, with my team. Of course, I am satisfied with His Excellency for his support. I am excited that we had the opportunity today to inspect the road together, and to discuss also the challenges; for example, compensation and relocation. He has assured me that everything will be done as soon as possible so that we can also meet our timeline. I am really happy and satisfied with the work here”, he said.
Indeed, his assurance is testament that Governor Fubara means well for Rivers State, and that his administration is working tirelessly to deliver quality good governance to the people. This road, among others, is a genuine proof of that commitment! Increasingly, Rivers people will not be burdened with limited access to road infrastructure that they had suffered when this road is finally delivered. This is particularly as it relates to urban-rural connectivity because such limited access to road had inhibited easier mobility of people, and undoubtedly delayed their access to the benefits of development. So, the disproportionate disadvantages that people likely suffer will be over soon. I dare say that the Port Harcourt Ring Road will improve rural infrastructure. Governor Fubara makes me see it so because he knows it as much as that, which is why he has designed it in a manner that it is seen as a crucial pathway to alleviating poverty.
Also, to be noted is that this road adds to the long-sought after solution to resolving the traffic congestions experienced in parts of Diobu axis of Port Harcourt, particularly on Ikwerre Road. Such traffic jams, over and again, had caused unnecessary pollution, and arguably, raises environmental concerns, and other levels of disruption on economic development.
A well-constructed road, as we are seeing of the ring road, assures that travel time will be reduced for motorists, and indeed, all road users getting out of the city centre. Another is the fact that there will be increase in the speed limits that motorists will apply, while also providing smoother driving experience. There will be overall transportation efficiency within the benefitting communities. What else can be a good respite for motorists other than knowing that the derivable benefits extend to enjoying reduced fuel consumption rate, lower vehicle maintenance costs, and increased productivity level for businesses.
The truism about this is remarkable: When a city is beautiful in outlay, it is 80percent a reflection of the good roads that have been provided, well developed and maintained. Without a doubt, the city of Port Harcourt is growing and expanding. So should the road infrastructure, essentially so that it does not only accommodate the increasing population density and the associated urbanization but diffuse same to border communities in none urban LGAs so as to decongest the metropolis. By all means, Governor Fubara is using this road to contribute to the socio-economic and cultural development of rural communities in particular and the state in general.

Nelson Chukwudi is the Chief Press Secretary to the Rivers State Governor, and writes from Government House, Port Harcourt.

Continue Reading

Trending