To control effects of flood water on Deltans, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has said the state government will spend more than N30 billion for the construction of storm drains.
According to the Governor, the amount would take care of eight storm drainage channels in the state including their discharge points.
The Governor made the disclosure in Asaba during the first quarterly interactive session with Journalists for the year, 2018.
“We have taken the bull by the horn as regards the flood control in the state; we wanted to be sure that we were on the right path, we did not just want to start constructing drains all over again without bringing solutions to the flood issues in Asaba so our consultants worked with the Nigerian Society of Engineers to provide us with eight options of drains,” he said.
“Storm drainages that we had to undertake as a state which was put at a total cost of a little above N30 Billion and out of the eight strategic network of Drains we chose to work with three as they were very critical and the total cost of the three is about N11 Billion.”
He continued, “the first one we started with was the one that is going to be within the area of DLA road through Jesus Saves road, the Agric Road area and that is the construction that is ongoing straight from that area through the Nnebisi road to the Amilimocha river and I think that the project has gone very far; we have been promised that the project will be delivered by the end of May this year and we are happy to announce that from my inspections, the project is going on very well and I am sure that a lot of us would have had the opportunity to see this construction and for those of us who may not have, I must appeal that for us to be able to do proper reporting, there is a need for us to visit projects to see what is on going.”
“There are two other projects, one of them is the drainage project that will take us through Ambassador Ralph Uwechie road to discharge to the Anwai stream and that project is already ongoing; the project was awarded about a month ago and work is ongoing and it will take 12 months to complete, so, we may not be getting all the relief within the Okpanam areas all through the rainy season but, it is our hope that before the next rainy season they would have completed the project so hopefully the project will be delivered by God’s grace by the end of February 2019 and once it is completed it is going to drain the larger part of Okpanam while part of the water coming from Okpanam will be drained through the project that has a discharge point at the Iyi-Abi stream that is across the Asaba/Onitsha expressway and I am happy to announce that the company working on the Okpanam project has stepped up their pace of work; the third of the storm drainage projects is the one that is going to drain DBS area and the adjoining areas around the DBS and that project is a 12 month project and I hope that they all will be delivered on time because the impact of the projects will only be fully felt in the year 2019 and it is my hope that we can reasonably go far enough before the rains sets in this year.”
Speaking further, the governor described the numerous clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the country as a great threat to sustainable food production.
According to the Governor, “if we are going to encourage agriculture in this country, we must address the loss of farm produce from these security challenges posed by the herdsmen/farmers clashes” all over the country.
While disclosing that his administration had taken proactive steps, including setting up interventionist committees to ensure that the clashes do not escalate as is being witnessed in some other states of the federation, Governor Okowa expressed confidence that the Presidential Committee set up on the issue will proffer solutions for the Federal Government to give policy trust for Nigerians to follow.
He also clarified that the issue of herdsmen taking over Uwheru community in Ughelli North local government area was being taken care of by security operatives, asserting that his administration will always employ diplomacy to avoid loss of life as a result of the activities of herdsmen.
On the issue of tractors being hired to farmers at exorbitant cost, the Governor expressed joy that most Deltans were into farming, noting that farmers’ co-operative societies took charge of the hiring of tractors, but promised that more would be procured to cater for those who could not access tractors being run by the co-operative societies.
Fielding question from Journalists on the taking over of land belonging to Umutu community by the Edo State government, Governor Okowa stated that the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice had been directed to liaise with Umutu community because the issue was before the court.
The governor reiterated that his administration was committed to the overall socio-economic development of the state and markets, especially in rural communities where such markets play vital roles in the development of the areas.
He said, “we are trying to assist our people through rural markets because, that helps to grow commerce and the local government councils that are directly in charge of markets may not be very strong financially and if we continue to leave them, that means we will be impacting very badly on the economy of the state and in the course of this year, we are building markets, one of which is the Ozoro market which was just recently awarded, it was a promise made and it is a huge market; the other is the Oghara market which was in very bad shape; we are also building the market in Burutu town and others.”
At the well-attended session, Governor Okowa lauded the synergy that exists between his government and the media, stating, “without that partnership (with the press), it will be difficult for the world to know exactly what we are doing as a state either in terms of projects or the challenges that we have in the course of this administration.”
He disclosed that the revenue to the state has greatly improved which led to the state not owing salaries of workers and also, complementing local government councils to offset backlog of salaries owed their staff.
“I know that when we spoke the last time, that we were anticipating things will gradually get better and I want to confirm to us that by the special grace of God in terms of receipts from Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocation as it concerns the state, and by God’s grace a lot has been done in the course of time; it has been confirmed that at the end of December 2017, in terms of salaries, we have paid all our salaries at the state level up to date; we have even begun as a state to give support to the local government councils to enable them to pay their salaries more regularly and we are beginning to find ways to settle some of the backlog of salaries; we are committed to that and it is going to be a gradual process and we hope that the councils that owe will eventually be able to settle the backlog of salaries,” the Governor assured.
On the issue of security generally in the state, Governor Okowa thanked Deltans for their peaceful dispositions which has ensured effective take off the multi-billion naira Premium Steel Rolling Mill, formerly, Delta Steel Company, Aladja. He attributed the performance of ground-breaking ceremony for the take-off of companies in the state and the flooding of the state by investors to the peaceful atmosphere in the state.
He observed that the state was peaceful, adding that his administration also, holds regular Security Council meetings to nip security challenges in the bud.
Governor Okowa who reeled out some of the achievements of his administration, urged Deltans to key into the compulsory health insurance scheme of his administration, adding that the contract for the construction of phase I of Oko road in Oshimili South local government area have been awarded.