All is now set for the commencement of 7.2km Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Avenue flood control project in Uyo.
The N12 billion World Bank assisted project awarded to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) cuts across 17 communities in three local government areas – Uyo, Nsit Ibom and Ibesikpo Asutan.
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Sir. Charles Udoh, who made the disclosure on Monday, in a radio programme, ‘Dakkada Akwa Ibom’ noted that his ministry has commenced the process of first phase of payment of compensations for the project which is expected to be completed in 18 months.
He said Governor Udom Emmanuel was moved becuse for over 15 years several communities including parts of the State Secretariat, the Mechanic Village, the Police Headquarters at Ikot Akpan Abia, and the Babangida Avenue, among others, have been impassable during rainy days.
“The project costs so much, and the state government could not handle it all alone. We made an appealed to Federal Government but there was no response.
“However the Governor was able to secure the support of World bank to partner with the state on the project. Don’t forget Governor Emmanuel has been a top executive in one of the best banks in the country, and so his high integrity profile was able to secure the deal with world bank.
“The Governor made a promise, today we are grateful because we are in the process of evacuating the flood. We will start paying compensation through counterpart funds released by the state government and evacuation will commence soonest at that site as the contractors have started ground mappings.”
He said that Akwa Ibom State Government is so meticulous in project delivery as standard environmental impact assessment have been carried out.
He said the drainage projects will comprise both underground and surface drains which are 6.8m wide and 3.4 m deep, while fences will be built to cover open drains, with culvates available.
He said apart from compensation in cash, mini water projects would be executed in communities where sources of drinking water are affected by the project.
The Commissioner noted that this administration inherited a lot of liabilities as humongous amount of money had been invested on flood control by previous administrations who unfortunately did not follow the master plan for development as most drainage systems were not properly done and are currently non functional.
On the issues raise by the activities of multinational oil companies in the state, Mr Udoh said that the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources will continue to serve as a mediator between communities and International Oil Companies, IOCs to ensure that a standardised MoU template is signed to enable oil companies carry out their cooperate social responsibilities like projects, taxes, employment quota to host communities as well as other measures to arrest restiveness in those areas.
Sir Charles Udoh, also hinted that Nigeria content law would soon be domesticated in the state as a draft has been sent to the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko,SAN for vetting which would subsequently be sent to the State House of Assembly as well as Petroleum Industry Bill which is also being looked into.
He maintained that environmental health is one of the priorities of Governor Emmanuel’s administration, and noted that he has set up a committee to act as an interface between host communities and the oil companies.