• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Rivers eyes $7 trillion blue economy with roads’ construction to the ocean

I will rather fight back with projects and economic prosperity – Fubara

... The road to Oyorokoto and the Trans-Kalabari Highway are now in focus

In Rivers State, towns such as Soku, Belema, Bonny, Down Below, and Oyorokoto jut into the Atlantic Ocean. They form the centre of fish stock, fresh from the waters, and they provide rare tourism and other backbones of the economic treasure that form the bedrock of the blue economy.

The Federal Government has at last identified the blue economy as a segment that can transform Nigeria’s economic landscape and thus outlines a thrust or push to exploit this sector by creating a ministry to manage it. It is estimated that the sector holds more than $7 trillion in treasure.

Q: “The Federal Government has at last identified the blue economy as a segment that can transform Nigeria’s economic landscape and thus outlines a thrust or push to exploit this sector by creating a ministry to manage it.”

States that know their onions have started laying initial planks, and this is seen to be through intentional road projects that would open up the oceanic towns and integrate them into the economies of the main cities.

Read also: Expectations high on signing deals at Rivers Economic Summit

The blue economy will also be boosted with the N225.1 billion Trans-Kalabari Highway, which will connect the major towns in Kalabari (which shares a boundary with the Atlantic Ocean). The N120 billion FG/NLNG Road that will soon open up Bonny Island to the state capital will also create a route to the ocean and open up the economy on that axis.

On May 18, 2024, the Rivers State Government, led by Governor Sim Fubara, inaugurated a segment of the Unity Road, which cost his one-year-old administration some N11.1 billion, all fully paid up. This segment is called Ngo Town. This road tracks off from the main Unity Road that begins in Ogoni, goes to Opobo, and then to Andoni. The Ngo leg takes it nearer the ocean.

Now, Governor Sim Fubara has announced a plan to extend the road to Oyorokoto.

This town is almost inside the ocean, and most people dream of spending time in it to caress the ocean and watch elephants that walk about. The town is seen as pure treasure land.

During the inauguration, one of the dignitaries on hand, Uche Secondus, the former national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), gave insights into the Ngo and Oyorokoto wings of the important road.

He said it was important to explain that the Unity Road, initiated by Peter Odili, had its inaugural foundation stone laid on January 3, 2005.

Secondus, however, thanked Governor Fubara for completing the project, which he described as a miracle, enabling the people to drive on land to Andoni from the city.

According to a government source (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works), the Andoni section of the Ogoni-Andoni/Opobo Unity Road project is 27.5km long, 7.3 metres wide, and has side drains of 2.5 km in length.

The project, which was re-awarded on July 13, 2023, by Governor Fubara to MCC, had the contract sum reviewed from N9.984 billion to N11.1 billion because of the escalation of prices of materials and petroleum products.

The Permanent Secretary said: “Many of us know the story of this road, but it took the bold step of His Excellency to finally deliver the road that the Andoni people have long yearned for.

“This road may only be 27.5km long, but the construction is sophisticated because it is close to the ocean. It thus has a width of 7.3 metres. The asphalt thickness is 100 millimetres; that is made up of 60 millimetres of binder course and 40 millimetres of asphaltic wearing course.

“It has side drainages within the community, totaling 2.5 kilometres long. It has a side case totaling 12.6 kilometres and a bridge of 3 spans of 20, 20, and 20 metres long, for a total of 60 metres.

“Today marks a special occasion as this road stands as a significant gift to the Andoni people. It fulfils His Excellency’s promise and commitment to deliver it within his first year in office. Now, that promise has become a reality, delivered within a record time of five months,” he added.

Throwing some light on the Ngo Town and now Oyorokoto road projects, Governor Fubara said the Ngo Town project had been delivered successfully.

He applauded Odili, the initiator of the project, the former governor, and successive administrations that, he said, contributed their quota to realising the Unity Road for the people.

Governor Fubara stated that his driving principle remains putting the people first, which he said was why he would not renege on the promise of internal roads that he made to Andoni people during electioneering campaigns.

The governor, therefore, directed the Ministry of Works to liaise with Monier Construction Company (MCC) to do scoping for the commencement of reconstruction of Ngo internal roads and a new contract for the extension of the road to Oyorokoto Town.

He said, “But I just want to say this: what is important today is that the section of the Unity Road that connects Andoni to Ogoni and Opobo/Nkoro has come to reality. That is the important thing.

“It is important we set this record straight. The Permanent Secretary has mentioned the cost of the job and the review cost. The beauty of it is that we are not owing any dime on this particular project.”

Governor Fubara said, “We are happy that it is happening in our own time. Our motto remains ‘The People First’, and anything that has to do with the people, we must take very seriously.

“I know that if it is this road, we are already done with the road. The planning of the road is already done. I don’t want to politick on this road anymore.

“I want to say here that we need to develop our own, and if we have to do it, we have to do it ourselves. So, I promise my people that we are going to do more jobs and more connecting roads for the Andonis by the special grace of God.

“I remember when we came for a campaign, we promised our people that when you support us, we are going to give you the internal roads. And by the special grace of God, the Andonis gave us their support, and the election was won.

“So, let me use this opportunity to thank you first for that support. Thank you that even after the election, you have continued to support the government, not minding the situation that we find ourselves in.

“A lot of people were thinking that this place would be empty today. Some people had other plans. But to the glory of God, we are getting natural support; people that we didn’t pay money to are here to say that they are identifying with this government, and we appreciate what this government is doing.

“For that alone, I want to direct the Permanent Secretary to immediately liaise with the contractor to ensure first that the internal roads in Ngo and connecting this road to Oyorokoto are immediately awarded.”

Governor Fubara urged the people to have good faith in the administration of President Bola Tinubu and appealed for total support from the federal government so that it could continue to undertake life-changing programmes that would trickle down to the state and local government areas.

He said, “I am also aware that we have issues in the other communities in Andoni. Some of them are flooding issues, which is an even more critical issue.

“I know of a place called Oronija. They are having very serious erosion and flood issues in other places. We are going to do something about it. It is my promise to my dear people today.

“It shows that we are contributing positively, and we understand the meaning and importance of peace. So, let me enjoin you: continue to show this good faith and be a good host.

“In the governance of this country, the success of the centre is the success of the sub-national. And when the sub-national succeeds, which is the state, the local governments will succeed. And when the local governments succeed, it means more projects and more life-changing activities will be seen in your domain.”

Earlier, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, a member representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, said the road is less than 30km long but regrettably took three different contractors: Rivigo Construction Company, RAFFOUL Nigeria Limited, and eventually Monier Construction Company (MCC) to deliver it after 24 years.

Abiante explained that this was the first time, since the dawn of the current democratic dispensation, that the Andoni people would gather for the inauguration of a development project within Ogbolo land.

He, therefore, expressed gratitude to Governor Fubara for making it happen and remarked that more critical infrastructure projects were needed in the area to place the people in a good position to be part of activities in the blue economy sector, whose potentials abound in the area.

Abiante, who expressed gratitude to Governor Fubara for accomplishing the feat and making it possible for them to drive on land from the city to their various communities, assured that the people would work to ensure the success of his administration.