The Oasis Reporters
May 10, 2021
By Greg Abolo.
With the best of intentions, then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo set up intervention agencies to address long infrastructure injustices against the Niger Delta region.
Niger Delta has seen historic environmental degradations due to crude oil exploration that effectively powers Nigeria’s economy. While the economy boomed, the region that yields the wealth, continued to die.
Part of the political arrangement was to set up a Ministry of the Niger Delta, and an agency, The Niger Delta Development Agency, NDDC.
An unwritten part of the arrangement was to empower start-up engineering firms to scale up, do perfect jobs and possibly compete on the global level. That is exactly what the likes of Julius Berger Construction firm from Germany, CCECC from China, a huge nation that saw no proper bridge, before General Babangida’s construction of Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, built by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC and opened by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990, measuring about 11.8km in length.
Thirty one year’s after, Nigerian engineers are finding it difficult to construct a mini standard bridge of a few metres long across a creek in the Niger Delta.
Thirty one years ago the Chinese who knew no proper bridge at home have scaled up and now build both roads and bridges all over Niger and Africa. They even offer fantastic loans to do the job first for the country to pay at any convenient date.
Quo Vadis, Niger Delta engineers?
Read the very sad stories of abandoned construction works after collecting upfront payments by engineering construction firms owned by extremely powerful people in the land.
Interbau Engineering company got a road contract to construct a road that should link Isoko land to Ase in Ndokwa East, Delta State.
These are areas that never had a tarred road from time immemorial.
It was a comprehensive road construction contract from Isoko land through Ase in Ndokwa East. Interbau at least did the road.
The road was supposed to continue after the Ekregbesi Creek onto Asaba Ase that ought to have been a one stretch road along coastal Niger Delta..
Interbau was said to have commenced the bridge work across the Ekregbesi Creek before they abandoned the job for unclear reasons.
Investigations reveal that the contract was re-awarded to Workson Engineering company, rumoured to be owned or associated with Delta State’s first 2nd Republic governor, James Ibori.
Once again, payment was made upfront to Worksons. Like Interbau.
Both companies got paid upfront. Yet almost two decades after, the work remains abandoned. Forsaken.
The same bridge across Ekregbesi Creek has proven to be the albatross. Whereas in that same region, Julius Berger has constructed a bridge across Ase River, four times wider than the Ekregbesi Creek, a tributary of Ase River in Ndokwa East.
Is it that Chinese engineers and Julius Berger Engineers from Germany are made of superior stuff?
Quo Vadis, Niger Delta engineers?
Meanwhile, all the money is spent, bridge users, confused and shortchanged.
How long shall we continue like this?
Another same story in Ozoro, Isoko North local government area.
We followed the story in 2015 of a new primary school to be called Desopadec Primary school that was directed home by a local politician. The need for the school had become critical, as the population of Ozoro continues to grow in leaps and bounds, as a significant local government headquarter in Delta State.
Fanfare followed the award of the construction contract said to be in eye popping figures of hundreds of millions in naira. A whopping huge amount of money was as usual, collected upfront and a post made about it on Facebook.
Four years after, the post popped up again and an Ozoro born political watcher picked on the post to ask pertinent questions, since the job had been abandoned and the project had become a haven for hemp smoking youths and other criminals, making the once peaceful road in the area very unsafe for passersby.
The original poster who was jubilant about the construction project four years ago, lamely explained that after collecting hundreds of millions in upfront payment, they asked for a contract variation which wasn’t given, so the project was abandoned.
How much did they really need to build just a block of classrooms, or where they constructing a brand new city?
The moment readers of the post continued to ask more pertinent questions, the poster promptly deleted the post!
Father!! (in the voice of Nigeria’s supergirl Youtube sensation, Adeola Fayehun)
Many Nigerians were filled with nostalgia in a Facebook group post recently of a selfless British couple who came to teach and work at Onitsha in the 40s. The male teacher came with his wife, a medical doctor to Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha.
While at Onitsha, they were transferred after many years to a little known village called Emevor to pioneer another new grammar school called James Welch Grammar School, Emevor. The town is a few kilometres from Ozoro. The medical doctor wife decided to volunteer as a Science teacher since the new school had none. Selfless service, you’d say.
The couple lived their lives in Nigeria and they fathered no children of their own.
When those selfless builders of James Welch Grammar, Emevor ( which is now one of Delta State’s most iconic colleges) died one after the other in retirement at their home country, old boys association of both Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha and James Welch Grammar School sent delegations to London for the burial of Mr. Philip and his wife, Dr. Mrs Philip.
They loved Nigeria and gave their all.
But see what home based contractors are doing with the money and trust given them to build their own communities.