By Festus Ahon
For residents of the twin cities of Warri and Effurun, Delta State commercial nerve centre, the good times are back with the announcement of the State Executive Council’s approval for the award of contract worth N78 billion to construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Limited, for the construction of three flyover bridges, cloverleaf and road expansion.
Having endured years of neglect, decay and dilapidating infrastructure, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori’s big move to renew, regenerate and create new structure for the cities have elicited joy and celebrations among the residents.
Their joy stems from the fact that the megalopolis which, no doubt, remains one of the leading commercial centre of the state has been in a state of comatose and a shadow of its past.
The megalopolis, signposted by bad roads, an unkempt environment and protracted traffic, has become a source of worry to the people. The immediate administration of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa gave reasons why he couldn’t do much in Warri, saying it was a result of the construction of stormwater drains to curb flooding in the metropolis. Having achieved a percentage of the project, he was able to complete the widening of the Effurun Sapele Road before exiting office.
During his electioneering campaigns, Oborevwori made it succinctly clear that Warri and Effurun would be given a face-lift, a pledge he reiterated in his inauguration speech on May 29, 2023, and I quote him, “Warri, the commercial nerve centre of the State, will be given special attention under this administration. The process has already commenced with the establishment of Warri, Uvwie, and Environs Development Agency (WUEDA).
“Before the ongoing Storm Water Project will be completed, the government will commence efforts at giving Warri and its environs a total facelift. Similarly, the ongoing rehabilitation work on the Warri Township Stadium will be expedited”.
The governor made good his promise to the people of Warri and Uvwie when, on Tuesday, the Delta State Executive Council, at its 2nd meeting under his watch, announced the approval of N78bn contracts for three flyovers, one cloverleaf and road expansion works within the Warri and Effurun metropolis.
Briefing journalists at the end of the Exco meeting, Commissioner for Works (Highways and Urban Roads), Comrade Reuben Izeze, said Oborevwori’s approval of the projects was in fulfillment of his promise to give Warri/Uvwie a facelift.
Izeze said the justification for choosing Julius Berger was due to their experience and competitive pricing in relation to the quality of work and timely delivery of projects.
State Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, on his part, said the contract was worth N78 billion while the state government would make 25 percent advance payment of N19.5 billion with the balance paid through an ISPO for 30 months.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Engr Fred Edafiogho, who gave details of the projects, said approval of the contracts was aimed at solving the gridlock often experienced in the twin cities.
Edafiogho said the contracts included the design and construction of a flyover bridge from Enerhen junction to Marine Gate; study, design and construction of road expansion and improvement works on the section of the DSC/NPA Expressway from Effurun roundabout to DSC roundabout including construction of a 3/4 Cloverleaf interchange at the existing Effurun flyover bridge as well as two pedestrian bridges.
Others are the design and construction of a flyover bridge at PTI junction and DSC roundabout along the Effurun/Patani, East-West highway, Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area.
Edafiogho further said that the project road expansion works on the DSC/NPA Expressway will provide two lanes of restricted carriageway at the centre for through traffic and another two lanes of service road in each travel direction bring the current capacity of the road from four lanes to eight lanes. He added that the four projects have a duration of 27 months with a probable completion date of Dec. 2025.
The coming of Julius Berger to work in Delta for the first time in many decades has elicited commendation from leaders and members of opposition parties.
A leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and erstwhile member of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Silas Buowe, hailed Oborevwori for taking the bold step to bring Julius Berger Nigeria Limited to construct flyovers and roads in Warri and Effurun.
Buowe, one-time Secretary of the APC in Delta State, has been moved to concede that the governor is a man of great vision, capacity and commitment to the development of the state.
The APC stalwart was particularly impressed with Oborevwori’s bold move for the construction of flyovers to reshape Warri, Uvwie and environs and his commitment to standard delivery by contracting one of the best construction firms in Nigeria to handle the projects.
In an open letter of commendation to the governor titled: ‘Heartfelt Gratitude for Your Remarkable Commitment to Infrastructure Development’, Buowe noted that Oborevwori has not only come prepared but is also a listening governor whose actions and approach have demonstrated his foresight and commitment to the well-being of the citizens of Delta State.
Reiterating the desire of his administration to do more for the people of the state as promised during the electioneering campaign, Oborevwori, on Wednesday, said his administration was poised to break new grounds in infrastructural development, inclusive economic growth, and sustainable development in the state.
Speaking during the swearing-in of nine new Special Advisers, the governor called on the appointees to put in their best to actualize his administration’s M.O.R.E Agenda for the people of the state.
He said the appointment of the Special Advisers was part of efforts towards building a strong team of technocrats and policy experts for the implementation of his administration’s policies and programmes, and charged the appointees to work with a sense of urgency, creativity, and innovation necessary to successfully execute policies and programmes for the greater good of all.
Oborevwori, also on Wednesday, also played host to the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Non-remittance of the National Housing Fund, NHF, and the utilisation of the fund from 2011, led by Hon. Dachung Bagos, at Government House, Asaba.
The Committee lauded the governor and Delta State government for their commitment to ensuring prompt remittance of workers’ contributions to the NHF.
Bagos said with over 40 percent housing deficit in the country, the House of Representatives decided to tackle the challenge as most workers were retiring without a roof over their heads. He said their visit to Delta was informed by the state’s prompt remittance to the NHF and called on the governor to urge local government councils in the state to comply with the remittances.
The Reps Committee also commended Oborevwori for awarding multi-billion flyovers and road expansion contracts to Julius Berger to solve the perennial gridlock often experienced by residents of Warri and Effurun in Warri South and Uvwie Local Government Areas of the state.
“When we were doing our analysis on security checks before coming, we saw that you could be able to award the contract of three flyovers and other road expansion works to Julius Berger at a cost of over N78 billion, it shows that we have a leader that is truly looking into the plight of his people,” Bagos stated.
-Ahon is the Chief Press Secretary to Delta State Governor