…Gives Host Communities two weeks To Embrace Peace
The federal government has given communities playing host to the Bonny-Bodo road project in the Niger Delta region which was awarded last year a two-week ultimatum to resolve their differences and allow peace to reign for the contractor to resume construction work, or lose the project.
The Hon. Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola handed down the ultimatum in Abuja yesterday while meeting with a delegation of traditional leaders from the communities, the contractor-Julius Berger Plc and the co-financier-NLNG over the face-off between the communities and the contractor which has halt work on the project for two months now.
Following the flag-off of the n120 billion roadproject by the federal government, there were reports of threats to smooth construction of the road by Julius Berger allegedly posed by the host communities- Bonny, Ataba, Gokana and Bodo which ultimately led to an alleged attack on the barges of the contractor sometime in November, 2017 and the consequent stoppage of work. This meeting was convened at the instance of the minister to listen to all sides and come up with a position.
The minister urged the traditional leaders to go back home and resolve any internal problems for peaceful and timely execution of the project.
“If there are internal issues, and you really appreciate the future benefit of this project to your communities as you said, try to resolve them among yourselves in two weeks and come up with a memorandum of understanding so that Julius Berger can return to work, otherwise we may have to divert the money to other projects which are on course but lack funds,” Fashola said.
Urging them to tame the “so-called creek boys who are your children and lives among you”, Fashola said the East-West road being talked about is not his ministry’s responsibility but that of the Niger Delta ministry.
Speaking ealier on the host communities’ side, the Chairman of the Traditional Heads, Jumbo Major House of Bonny, Chief (Prof.) Jasper Jumbo who thanked the federal government for the project said: “We are passionate about the project because this is the first time we are having such being executed on land, but what we are not happy with is that we are being neglected by the contractor to the extent that they don’t let us know what they are doing and our people are not being employed in line with the local content policy.”
The Okaan Ama of Ataba Kingdom in Rivers State, HRH Benson Egwenre, JP who collaborated what was said by Chief Jumbo said the people of Ataba are demanding that a spur be constructed to link them with the major highway which is some distance away from the community. Same was part of the demand put forward on behalf of the Gokana people by HRH Mene Tekuru-porobunu.
On his part the Federal Controller of Roads in Rivers State said the demands and agitations are too many and very difficult to satisfy, a situation he said does not allow for work to progress at its pace. He said some sections of Bodo community are claiming some government properties, describing it as regrettable.
The Bonny-Bodo is a public-private 40km road from Bodo to Bonny Island. In between it there bridges-a 1, 000 metre bridge across the Opobo Creek, a 640 metre bridge over the Nanabie Creek, and another one which is 550 metre long. The federal government is co-financing the project 50-50 with NLNG.
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