David T.J. Amusa, Port Harcourt
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has charged its design and project supervision consultants to keep to the Commission’s specified standards and best practises in the construction of its projects.
Speaking at a one-day interactive meeting with the consultants at the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Mr.Nsima Ekere, the Managing Director of the Commission stated that there had been complaints by people in the Niger Delta with regard to substandard projects executed by the Commission.
He said this ought not to be as the Commission is indigenous to the region, pointing out that it ought to know the terrain of the area.
Mr. Ekere said that such was not the case as the projects are not constructed to the standard that will survive the weather and time.
“One of the things that confronts us daily working in NDDC is the way Nigerians laugh at NDDC and at NDDC projects. I called this meeting today because I want this narrative to change. Whatever project, infrastructure that NDDC is building must stand out as the very best in this country. And we have every reason to make our projects that way.”
He said the Niger Delta region is an area where projects to be constructed should take cognizance that it rains for an upward of 10 months in a year thus requiring good drainage system
He wondered why consultants of the Commission would not take into consideration these challenges in specifying the drainage system.
Ekere pointed out that once there was inadequate drainage in size and depth, the roads were bound to be flooded and overtime will develop embarrassing potholes.
“’The Niger Delta region is not a very friendly region. We have a lot of natural challenges. About 70 percent of the terrain lie below sea level. We have rain virtually 9-10 months of the year. Because our terrain, the topography of the Niger Delta as challenging as it is, it is necessary that whatever it is we want to do, the roads we want to build, the drainages we want to do, must be the best. So, they can stand the test of time and challenges of weather. That is where you come in. That is why we decided to have this meeting. We have seen projects done by NDDC that barely a couple of months after completion and commissioning, when you pass on those roads for instance, you see the roads they will begin to smile at you, they will open their mouth and laugh and they are telling you really this job wasn’t well done. Some of what we do could pass in other parts of the country where terrain is good. But in the Niger Delta region, because of our peculiar circumstances, we expect higher standards. Over the years, we have received a lot of flak. I have had cases to interact with people who tell me that NDDC was doing a road in their communities and the drainage is this small and is this deep and you will be wondering with the kind of rainfall that we have in this part, how can that road survive? I hate to agree that some of these projects right from the onset are designed to fail. This is what we must change and this must no more be the norm”, Ekere stated.
Speaking further, the managing director assured that payment to consultants would receive the priority it deserves, adding that arrangements are already in place to achieve this.
Ekere also said NDDC was striving to complete many of its projects, stating that to this end, the Ogbia-Nembe road will be completed in November to mark the one year anniversary of the present management board of NDDC.