Close to 17,000 projects are currently being monitored by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in its nine states.
This was disclosed by Nelson Onwo, an engineer and director, Project Monitoring and Supervision (PMS), while speaking in Port Harcourt.
Onwo disclosed that 30 percent of the 17,000 projects have been completed, while about 50 percent were at different stages of completion.
The director was reacting to insinuations that NDDC projects were substandard. He rejected the notion but blamed the breakdown of roads to the tendency of trucks to divert to community roads when state and federal roads break down, which is often in the region.
He said the commission visits the states from the headquarters during preparation of interim payment certificates (IPCs) while state offices do direct supervision of projects in various communities.
“We complement them and also supervise what they are doing and ensure that what they send to us are double-checked to ensure compliance with our specifications.”
The director noted that NDDC had a very robust project monitoring procedure which ensures that no one engineer was able to determine what was going to happen to a project.
“The state office engineers are the ones that will raise the project evaluation. They are the first contact point between the projects and the contractors.
“We have a challenge of over usage of our roads. We have a situation where heavy-duty trucks are plying community roads because of lack of railways and waterways. This puts a lot of stress on the roads which now carry loads far beyond their designed capacities.
“Another factor to consider is the difficult terrain of the Niger Delta region. We are working in a region where you have highly saturated surface and so if you subject the roads to axle loads that they were not designed to carry, they will fail before there estimated lifespan,” he stated.
Onwo promised that the NDDC would complete many more projects in 2024, especially in the energy sector, stating: “We are lighting up the Niger Delta region with our solar-powered street light project and we are going to cover many communities in the region this year.”
He attributed the delay in the completion of some of the Commission’s projects to escalating costs.
“We are currently reviewing our rates because the prevailing cost of materials is hampering the implementation of our projects. When we produce the new rates, we will be able to get more contractors back to site and revive our stalled projects.”
Speaking on the Okrika-Borokiri Road with three bridges, connecting several communities to Port Harcourt, Onwo said that NDDC was collaborating with the Rivers State Government to complete the project. He said that the scope of the project had been expanded considerably.
Onwo, assured that the Commission had a well-defined structure that would ensure a high level of efficiency in project delivery.
Meanwhile, the Commission said it is set to resume its Free Healthcare Programme which caters to the needs of rural communities, as part of the Commission’s commitment to enhance healthcare delivery to the people of the Niger Delta region.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, George Uzonwanne, Commission’s director for Education, Health and Social Services, , said that all necessary arrangements had been made to put the programme back on track.
According to him; “The award and procurement processes for all the medical services have been concluded and we are hoping to re-start the programme towards the end of this month or early in February.”
The director noted that the Free Healthcare Programme used to be the flagship of the Commission. “Unfortunately, because of funding challenges, it was suspended for a couple of years. But I am happy and excited to announce that it has been resuscitated by the current Board and Management of the NDDC.
“It is a programme that the people of the Niger Delta region have been waiting for. In fact, many communities have been writing to us, requesting to have the free healthcare programme in their localities. The medical professionals needed for the effective implementation of the free medical outreach are already being mobilised for the programme which would cover the nine NDDC mandate states.”
Uzonwanne said that the NDDC was focused on bringing succour to the people of the Niger Delta region, assuring that the Commission would spare no effort to ensure that the people had access to quality healthcare. In this wise, he said that arrangements had been concluded to distribute drugs and hospital equipment to health institutions in the Niger Delta region.
He stated: “One of the health programmes that has taken a life of its own is the medical assistance programme, where we have been treating people whose ailments could not be handled in the free medical programme or where the affected individuals cannot afford the medical bills.
“In the past, we worked with the private sector, but we are now considering working with government hospitals as well. The whole essence of our intervention in healthcare is to treat indigent people who cannot afford basic healthcare.”
The NDDC director said that the Commission was currently registering indigent people in the Niger Delta region to enable them to have access to healthcare.